Stratcom adding value to info ops

Earlier this year U.S. Strategic Command acquired four new missions, and now the leader of that command is working to streamline those areas.

One of those missions is oversight of the Defense Department's information operations, an area that Navy Adm. James Ellis Jr. says has been "oversold and undervalued up to now, and it's time to reverse that."

The Stratcom commander added that he'd prefer it if IO stood for "integrated operations" rather than information operations.

The other added missions are missile defense, global strike, and global command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR).

Ellis said a number of initiatives are under way at Stratcom to make the Defense Department's IO and C4ISR capabilities as efficient as possible, including:

* Conducting an internal re-organization aimed at streamlining the warfighting and business processes associated with the command's myriad missions.

* Developing an organizational structure with direct integration of National Security Agency personnel and capabilities.

* Re-allocating ISR assets as they return from wartime deployments in order to best protect the nation.

"We must get beyond the 'pee-wee soccer' approach to ISR," Ellis said, comparing the games where kids flock after the ball to DOD putting all of its sensors in one region of the world when a problem occurs. He said that bunching the sensors this way leaves two-thirds of the world vulnerable and invites conflict.

"One year from now, if we're not doing ISR better, I'll hand it over to someone else," he said. "It's not about ownership."

Another goal is to build Stratcom's staff a secure network, which would include secure phones and be available around the clock. That has not been accomplished, but Ellis said his staff is working with the Defense Information Systems Agency and the assistant secretary of defense for command, control, communications and intelligence (C3I) to make that happen.

Ellis said he is also concerned with the notion of removing bandwidth constraints, because the military can never truly estimate its future needs and "we'll always find a way to use it and want more."

Stratcom, which has its headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., merged with U.S. Space Command in October 2002 but retained its own space operations responsibilities and its nuclear triad of submarine, bomber and missile forces. The command was an active participant in Operation Iraqi Freedom, particularly in collecting and disseminating battle damage assessments after Central Command handed over that duty, Ellis said.

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