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The next chapter in the war in Afghanistan will pit Pentagon planning and advanced technology against shortages in congressional funding, military manpower and civilian patience.The military services are trying hard to reorganize themselves to make the greatest impact with less funding, fewer men, a ticking clock and the accelerating growth of advanced technology during the next few years.The latest move is the U.S. Navy decision to combine its N-2 (intelligence) and N-6 (command and control) functions into a Directorate of Information effective Nov. 2. It is planned as a tool to bring cyber war, unmanned vehicles, network architecture and other components together in one organization that can also offer flexibility and speed of change as technological advances arrive – all within the operator’s or warfighter’s perspective. It will be manned by a corps of 44,000 information professionals.“That’s what drove me to reorganize the headquarters of the Navy,” Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, told a group at the Brookings Institute. “[The directorate] brings together information and moves some programs out of the platform directorates into information.” Platforms making the shift include all unmanned systems and the EPX multi-intelligence/multi-sensor aircraft [but not Boeing’s P-8A patrol aircraft] that is to replace the Lockheed-Martin EP-3E signals intelligence aircraft.“It’s not the platforms that are important, it’s the architecture and the information moving through those nodes,” Roughead says. The Navy also stood up the 10th Fleet that will be the forward operator of cyber attack and defense, and it also will determine how unmanned vehicles will support that effort.The Navy is keeping its focus on current conflicts, including Afghanistan and Iraq.“What we’re seeing is the desire for introducing new technologies into the battlespace that provide faster, more accurate, better information to the warfighter,” Roughead says. “We need to fuse information and intelligence in ways we’ve never seen before.”The CNO also calls for the acceleration of programs – naming Northrop Grumman’s FireScout helicopter UAV as a successful example. Another concept to get a push is the formation of composite squadrons that combine similar airframes from different services such as the Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance and the Air Force’s Global Hawk long-endurance, high-altitude UAVs, both built by Northrop Grumman.Senior Air Force officials also suggest a joint service solution.“We have to capitalize on each of the service’s core competencies and trust one another to develop what is unique to our particular [organization] to provide a joint force commander with the capability to integrate [air assets] and move away from self-sufficiency,” says Lt. Gen. Dave Deptula, deputy chief of staff for Air Force ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance).The new buildup in Afghanistan is already producing some obvious innovations. A key concept is fast fielding of functional systems that fill an operational need.“I would like to make that the norm as opposed to the exception,” Deptula says. “An example is the MC-12W [intelligence-gathering aircraft]. The first aircraft was delivered in less than seven months. We are in an information age, but we have an industrial age acquisition system. We have to become much, much more capable because our adversaries are not limited by the same sort of bureaucratic and legislative constraints that we have."
ar99, uavs, Afghanistan, cyber
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