Death of 'C4ISR'

In Defense Department lingo, C4ISR stands for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. But there are some DOD intelligence officers who think it's time to retire the term.

C4ISR is "virtually meaningless," said Keith Masback, director of ISR integration in the office of the Army deputy chief of staff for intelligence, during last week's ISR in the Urban Environment conference sponsored by Defense Week in Washington, D.C.

C4ISR was an important term when it was created because it gave more weight to the power of information, "but now it's time to pin the awards on and allow it to retire," he said.

Masback said he and other DOD officials would like to drive a wedge between the "C4" and "ISR" portions of the term to more accurately portray what happens during military activities, which is battle command enabled by intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. "ISR is one of the demanding customers of C4," along with logistics and others, he said.

The Interceptor has heard other DOD officials griping about the C4ISR moniker at recent conferences, and Masback said the Army is "doctrinally working to kill the term."

Stay tuned.

Sophomoric Talk

Urban warfare requires tools for communicating, collaborating and understanding complex city environments, but many of the conversations focused on those topics are "sophomoric," according to the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Just before delivering his May 21 lunchtime speech at the ISR conference, retired Army Lt. Gen. Patrick Hughes, who left active duty as DIA director in October 1999, said he had been having a discussion about using wireless phones in urban warfare operations.

Hughes dismissed the idea as ridiculous because nearly every word of a wireless phone conversation can be monitored and simply picking up the device can enable the enemy to track the person holding the phone. He added that public forums attended by journalists, like the one he was speaking at, were not the right place to discuss such issues "in the right technical detail."

"We need to move beyond these low-level, open-source conversations," Hughes said. "If it has to be classified, then it has to be classified."

Just when we thought that embedded journalists had made media fans of all DOD personnel...

Intell Policy Catch-Up

The services and the intelligence community need to come up with a better way to get classified intelligence information to troops long before they board helicopters to head into the battle zone.

According to Lt. Col. Mike Hanley, chief of the Doctrine Division at the Army's Infantry School, Fort Benning, Ga., during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, one unit was handed satellite maps of the area they were about to enter just as their air transport was preparing to take off. But because the raw images were classified as secret, the troops could not take the paper maps with them to prevent the information from falling into enemy hands.

Instead, the U.S. troops had to rely on sketches, "and that's not good enough," Hanley said. To add insult to injury, the secret maps blew away and other personnel had to chase them down.

"We need to find ways of providing information that doesn't require a classification," Hanley said during last week's ISR conference. Being handed raw, classified material minutes before deployment is not sufficient. "We need to clean it up."

Intell Policy Catch-Up

Along those lines, the policy-makers that own the nation's intelligence information are still operating in the Industrial Age, and industry experts must bring them into the Information Age so warfighters can use new technology as soon as it's available, according to an Air Force intelligence official.

Col. Allen Roby, director of the intelligence directorate at the Air Force Command and Control, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance Center at Langley Air Force Base, Va., said there are huge security concerns when it comes to sharing ISR data with coalition forces. However, technology is not the problem.

"We have the technology now for multilevel security," Roby said during last week's conference. "We need a policy to let it work."

He asked the industry members in the audience — though there weren't many among the 50 or so attendees — to make sure policy- makers are comfortable enough with the new solutions that the defense intelligence community can use them.

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