Defense Information Systems Agency – Commanding General

It’s truly a pleasure to be with you today in one of the world’s most beautiful and exotic places, Honolulu, Hawaii – home of the United States Pacific Command and the 25th Infantry Division. I hail from a more humble locale. I’m a good ol’ boy from rural Georgia. Growing up, not only could I never imagine that I would go from enlisted infantryman to the senior signal officer in the United States Army, it was difficult to imagine what lay beyond the county line. But I didn’t have to worry too much about what was in store for me. I felt comfortable in my family and with the honest people who lived in the small town were I was raised. They were – and still are – the kind of people who take care of one another. My parents instilled lessons. More than anything else, I was taught right from wrong. And I was taught the value of patriotism – along with an appreciation of football, the ultimate team sport – and, of course, a love of country music.

I’ve lived the American dream in the service of our country, and I could not be more thankful. I’m thankful America affords her citizens with boundless opportunities to succeed. If you’re lucky enough to be an American or live in a freedom-loving nation, you might say it’s the most sublime lottery you actually won – because you just can’t put a dollar sign on freedom. Freedom is priceless.

Thank you for attending. How to think about command and control of cyberspace in the Asia-Pacific theater … I must confess that I’m always a little uncomfortable giving such a speech to a room full of technical experts. It would be a bold person to do what I’m charged with doing, which is trying to enlighten a group so knowledgeable. But I propose to be for about 20 minutes as bold as the little first-grader named Suzie who was in a class where the teacher said “I want all of you children to draw a picture.” And all the children set about doing it, and the teacher walked around the room and she came to little Suzie and said “Suzie, of what are you drawing a picture?” And Suzie said “I’m drawing a picture of God.” The teacher said “Well, Suzie no one knows what God looks like.” And Suzie said “They will in a few minutes.”

In my few minutes I want put a finer point on the fairly broad theme of this conference. What DISA does within the Pacific Rim – and globally – is important, but it’s more meaningful for our purposes here to consider DISA from the perspective of the warfighter. I don’t care that we have the latest and greatest technologies in place – because what matters is how they translate to the battlefield – or potential battlefield – through our service partners. As you might imagine, warfighters are the most demanding consumers of technology because the stakes are much higher than in civilian life. So I’m not here today to elaborate too much on what DISA does generally. I’m here to touch on what the warfighter does with DISA, and how others in the Department of Defense support our warfighters using DISA assets. I want to paint the picture from the point-of-view of the soldier, sailor, airman, and Marine. Warfighters on the edge of the network, in harm’s way, executing their missions with enterprise applications. Warfighters ‘leveraging the edge’ – the realm of net-centric warfare.

To me, command and control of cyberspace – exploited for maximum advantage – is the virtual equivalent of holding the high ground. Command and control of cyberspace is today’s version of Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and the 20th Maine on Little Round Top.

What the 20th Maine did in the battle of Gettysburg was at once tactical and strategic. Those soldiers helped win the battle which helped win the Civil War. Today, in the war on terror, this scenario is playing out all over the world. The strategic has collapsed into the tactical. Our networks can provide information to special operators in Afghanistan that can result in the termination of high value al Qaeda terrorists or Taliban fighters. In an age where the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is a real threat, the continued success of those special ops teams is critical for our national security. The action occurs at the tactical level, but has strategic consequences. At DISA, we’re networking the warfighting enterprise for tactical and strategic advantage. We have to own cyberspace because the challenges America faces are global, instant, unpredictable, and often asymmetric.

Many of you are already familiar with DISA’s mission – to engineer and provide command and control capabilities and enterprise infrastructure to continuously operate and assure a global net-centric enterprise in direct support of joint warfighters, national-level leaders, and other coalition partners across the full spectrum of operations. DISA’s vision is leaders enabling information dominance in defense of our nation. Over the decades, DISA has participated in every mission the Department of Defense has undertaken. These have become increasingly interagency and international, and our partnerships have increased to reflect this.

When one considers the theme of this conference, Command and Control of Cyberspace, the preposition – of – is key. Cyberspace is a medium – in – which we deliver command and control, but it’s also a battlespace. Our enemies will try to render it useless by destroying the hardware or corrupting the software. Cyberspace as a battlespace is largely the concern of CyberCom and StratCom. They defend the enterprise from external attack. We at DISA assure the information on the network, and we can mitigate attacks by building highly redundant and fault-tolerant networks integrated throughout the enterprise. Cyberspace is a flow of bits and bytes that reassemble at the edge to become mission-critical information, but it’s also something that can get blown up or severed, like the cables in the Mediterranean not too long ago. It’s a highly-contested environment characterized by satellite dependence, persistent conflict, continual engagement, and rapid change.

Providing command and control capabilities through cyberspace for combined arms forces is complex. That’s where our partners, the service branches, come in. Effective command and control requires information sharing, seamless transparency, and information dominance to meet the operational challenge. This requires agility – getting the technical requirements aligned with the operational requirements. We’re striving to assure information and intelligence across a global network. Our enterprise is always on and increasingly protected, robust, standardized, and flexible. The fundamental goal is to become completely network-centric and eliminate the last vestiges of the stovepipe architectures.

The Asia-Pacific theatre is a vast area with many diverse cultures. The United States Pacific Command encompasses fifty percent of the world’s surface area, more than 100 million square miles, and 36 countries. With the exception of the Eighth United States Army in Korea, this theatre is primarily the responsibility of the Navy and Marine Corps. The Pacific Rim is an area of tremendous economic growth with numerous countries conducting trade with the United States.

Of all the countries in the Pacific Rim, one looms large. China is quickly approaching superpower status economically and militarily. And this begs the questions: What kind of China will emerge? Will it be more a friend or a foe? We hope for the former, but we must prepare for the latter. I anticipate it won’t be long before the Chinese are projecting military force beyond the region of the Western Pacific. They have also made advances in net-centric warfighting. In 2007, they destroyed one of their own satellites with an ASAT rocket. Such weapons, if successfully deployed in a future war, could render us blind. As I referenced earlier, this is an example of how cyberspace is becoming a battlespace. And it includes Earth’s orbit. Star Wars was not a figment of anyone’s imagination. China also now has anti-aircraft carrier missiles. The status of Taiwan, just 75 miles from the mainland of China, is still a thorny diplomatic challenge. There is disagreement between China and its neighbors and the United States over how far its territory extends into international waters. Secretary of Defense Gates was recently in Vietnam addressing that issue. China’s economic system has been liberalized – it is no longer a command economy, but human rights abuses in China continue. The individual freedoms we take for granted are not found in China.

The 7th Fleet, based in Japan, conducts operations in the East China Sea and the Western Pacific in which DISA’s assets are utilized. The Navy takes advantage of the virtual high ground to monitor the Chinese Navy and other Chinese military units. Our aircraft, surface ships, and submarines gather intelligence information and use the enterprise network to process and manage the data. The Navy, with DISA’s help, is implementing a shipboard tactical network program called CANES that is increasing bandwidth, connectivity, and network availability. The acronym CANES stands for Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services. CANES is allowing for a more standardized computing environment. That means better command, control, and communication (C3) for the 7th Fleet in the strategic area of the Western Pacific. Lieutenant Commander David White, the Lincoln’s combat systems information officer, said of CANES “In the past, my days were filled with phone calls telling me which telephone lines were down, the status of email backlog and slowness of the Internet. This time, users were never aware when we dropped a satellite shot because we never lost connectivity. We were truly operational 24/7.” The Navy does not have as many ships as it once did, but cyberspace can help the Navy do more with less.

Then, of course, there is North Korea. Six decades have passed since the outbreak of war on the Korean Peninsula, and North and South Korea are technically still at war. North Korea wouldn’t exist without the support of the Chinese, and although Koreans are one people, their countries could not be more dissimilar. South Korea is thriving. North Koreans are starving. Unlike Communist China, where at lease some reforms have been enacted for the betterment of the people, North Korea remains a very repressive regime. Because of the United States’ prosecution of the war on terror, some resources have been diverted to Southwest Asia and the American military presence has been somewhat reduced. DISA is intricately involved in how we monitor North Korea’s activities on the DMZ, where more than 1 million North Korean soldiers are positioned, and in how we might determine whether North Korea is exporting its nuclear or ICBM technology. As you know, the United States is gravely concerned with terrorists gaining control of weapons of mass destruction. The recent sinking of a South Korean naval vessel by a North Korean submarine has only exacerbated the already elevated tensions. More than 30,000 American military personnel remain stationed in South Korea, with 80 percent of them positioned in close proximity to the DMZ. If North Korea were to mass for an attack, U.S. satellites would sound the alarm, the Eighth Army would prepare a massive artillery and rocket barrage and counter-battery fires, several of our carriers would sail from their home port in Japan to launch airstrikes. The United States would be involved in another full-scale war on the Korean Peninsula. Further complicating matters, is that North Korea has nuclear weapons.

The Eighth United States Army (EUSA) is stationed in South Korea. Advances in cyberspace communications have made for improved maneuverability of those troopers. The Warfighter Information Network – Tactical (WIN-T) provides “on the move” capability down to the company level. The Army is also implementing the Future Combat Systems program and Telecommunications Satellite program. The 7th Fleet is responsible for overwatch in Korean waters.

Indonesia, the world’s 4th most populous country, is of significant strategic importance to the United States. 1/3 of the world’s seaborne trade passes through Indonesia’s territorial waters and 1/2 of the world’s oil passes through the Malacca Sraights. Malaysia and Singapore are nearby countries. Throughout history, it has been an important region for trade. Indonesia has the world’s largest population of Muslims. After 9/11,there were intelligence reports of safe havens for Islamic terrorists in the region, and there was some question of whether U.S. ground forces would be sent there. In 1997, however, Congress had already banned American-Indonesian military cooperation when it enacted the Leahy Law, which prohibits relations with militaries accused of torture as was Indonesia’s military, the TNI. Today, it is more likely that joint cooperation will resume for counterterrorist operations, with the U.S. military playing a support role. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently made comments to suggest that the United States was open to resuming open military relations with Indonesia. This would require Congressional legislation with language repealing the Leahy Law. The massive relief effort in response to the 2004 earthquake and sunami demanded multinational cooperation, which included Indonesia. DISA played a major role there. Indonesia is a moderate society, pro-western, recently elected a president who was educated in the United States.

Carrier Strike Group 9 led by the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) recently arrived in nearby Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to promote peace, cooperation, and stability in the region. The Lincoln just introduced the CANES program on board. The Marines on Okinawa could be sent to Indonesia if the situation warranted. These Marine battalions are currently being equipped with mobile tactical Combat Operations Centers (COCs). They will be used to manage tactical level data and integrate command and control. The COCs are being administered by General Dynamics. The Navy is also involved in theatre ballistic missile defense (TBMD) in the Pacific-at-large and in military exercises like Cobra Gold in Thailand.

So the United States has significant national security interests in the Pacific Rim. Trade and lines of communication must remain open. Sea lanes must remain secure. Ideally, if China continues to liberalize, the North Korean regime falls peacefully, and Indonesia partners with the United States in counterterrorist operations; prospects for the region will greatly improve. The developing economies will increase the standard of living and quality of life for millions of people.

What does the future hold for DISA? We must have the vision and courage to innovate and adopt technology as it evolves. To gain information dominance, we must exploit emerging technologies such as holographic messages, natural language and neural computing interfaces, hyperspectral imagery, autonomous mobile networks, augmented reality, and learning algorithms. Social networks have become a part of the lifestyle of our users, as well as our adversaries – we must exploit their power appropriately. We must lead the effort for a global defense cloud – for our customers and their partners – so that we will enable a military force to connect and pull the information it needs for its mission anytime, anywhere, all in a contested battle space. We are committed to protected data on protected networks. Teamwork with our mission and industry partners is essential. We care about the end user. We recognize that the capabilities and services we provide cross barriers. We will enable the warfighter’s ability to connect and pull the information they need in a contested battlespace. We are positioned to rapidly leverage future technology and deliver joint capabilities. We are committed to leading the Department’s effort to achieve unity of effort in realizing global collaboration and information sharing – making sure that we collectively can achieve information dominance and support the new global warfighter on-the-move.

In closing, I want to tell you about a Marine I met on a recent trip to Afghanistan. I had just landed in the vicinity of Now Zad, Helmand Province when one of the Marines who had been tasked with providing a secure LZ said to me “Thank you for providing my battalion with good coms, sir.” A young lance corporal, he moved easily despite his combat load and wielded his M240 machine gun deftly. I asked him how he knew coms were good. He said “My company commander said as much. And I’ve seen first hand the difference it can make, whether it’s calling up arty or bringing in a medivac helo.” I asked him why he joined the Marines. “I want my little sister to grow up not knowing what terrorism is. I want her to live her life free of fear.” I asked him how he was making out. “Sir, it ain’t nothin’ we can’t handle. We’re infantry Marines. And I trust in the Lord to get me and my buddies through this one way or another.”

We can get caught up with talk about technology and architecture, but we should never forget that the men and women of America’s armed forces are our most precious national treasure, and the virtual highways of command, control, and communication we build lead directly to that young Marine and others like him who put their lives on the front lines everyday fighting for the cause of freedom.

Thank you.