Admiral emphasizes joint apps

SAN DIEGO — The importance of joint applications to wartime operations has never been greater than it is today, according to one of the Navy's top officers.

Navy Adm. Walter Doran, commander of the Pacific Fleet and Joint Task Force 519, speaking Feb. 3 at the West 2004 conference sponsored by AFCEA and the U.S. Naval Institute, drew comparisons between the armed forces and the recent Super Bowl football game.

"These were the best two teams in the NFL because they emphasized teamwork," Doran said. "They were not built around superstars, but rather around a group of players that work better together."

Doran commanded a two-part exercise called Terminal Fury late last year, which was designed to test the limits of connectivity and interoperability among the services. He said the exercise provided a fresh perspective of the importance of joint applications in the command and control arena.

Terminal Fury 1 took place in October, with the second part following in December. The exercise called for the Navy Marine Corps Intranet to be rolled out to not only Navy and Marine participants but also those from the Air Force and the Army. Doran said after a makeover of NMCI to accommodate the new services, the participants worked in a joint, seamless environment.

Terminal Force 1 "gave us the confidence and flexibility to operate wherever necessary," Doran said.

The second part of the operation was designed to determine the flexibility of the network if users were forced to relocate the command post from one area to another. The operation started in Hawaii and then moved to Japan on board an Air Force C-17 cargo plane, which was specially outfitted to provide voice, data and video conferencing capabilities while en route to the Pacific Rim.

"We had constant [command, control, communications and computers] and operational awareness while in transit," Doran said. "On the plane we had both secure and nonsecure access, and we could browse the [Joint Task Force] Web pages."

Interoperable software means members of the different armed services no longer have to take long periods of time to train on new systems when they are thrown into a joint operation, Doran said.

"I am looking forward to the day when an airman can [come] aboard the U.S.S. Blue Ridge and go to work with reacquainting himself with the systems," he said. "We need to dedicate ourselves to making every C4I system joint first."

"Future technologies must be born joint if they are to be relevant," he added. "For too long, we have asked our young men and women who are on the front lines defending our country to develop work-around solutions to our collective inability to provide truly joint C4I solutions."

The next piece of the interoperability puzzle will come by adding the forces of allied and coalition nations to the mix, Doran said. Already initiatives are underway to navigate that piece of the joint maze, he said.

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