I was lucky enough to be able to attend the AFCEA ASIA PACIFIC conference in Honolulu this month. The theme was “Rebalancing toward the Asia Pacific” and I wasn’t surprised to see a large turn out again this year, especially from Industry. Over 150 exhibitors put on one of the best exhibition halls I have ever seen. Military leaders gave great overviews in keynotes and panels on how DoD is rebalancing its resources towards the Pacific. Speakers included all branches of the service from PACOM and the component commands: US Army Pacific, US Pacific Fleet, US Pacific Air Forces, and even some great speakers from the DC area.
A quick review in case you missed it: DoD is making a major shift in its strategy as we pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan to focus on the Pacific Theater. In January, the President issued his guidance in “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense” (located here). He promised to refocus on the “security and prosperity” of Asia Pacific. The tangibles that come out of this are still being defined and much information has been published, as the themes get worked and reworked. (The best discussion of what this means for Navy is the 17OCT report to congress by Ronald O’Rourke titled “China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities – Background and Issues for Congress” (located here).
The buzzwords this year at PACOM are “Rotational Deployments” and “Rotational Bases”, as speaker after speaker explained how they would move more forces deeper into the PACRIM, without building any large infrastructures. Maj Gen Keltz, USAF, J5 PACOM, was very careful to make this distinction and I got the sense that he was trying to avoid sending a signal that described a big military build up. Maj Gen Shasteen, US Pacific Air Forces, described expanded engagements that used a “checkered flag” rotational basis that depended more on the relationships with the coalition partners.
DoD CIO, Ms. Takai held a panel with the Component CIO’s and emphasized the need to collapse redundant networks and get better at deciding what data needs protecting. DON CIO, Mr. Halverson encouraged systems that protect the most important data. By protecting ALL the data, we are just slowing down the networks, according to his theory.
One area that is always tricky is getting information security levels ascertained between allies and coalition partners. NSA National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP) Director, Mr. Mark Loepker, reviewed his new emphasis on using Protection Profiles and moving away from EALs in an effort to streamline a single, repeatable and testable process.
ADM Haney, PACFLT wrapped up the conference with an insightful list of things he needs from Industry as he moves forward. Weeding through all the chatter, here’s my list of where I think the growth areas in PACRIM will be:
- Rotational deploymentsvice permanent forward deployments means less concrete but more communications. Expeditionary Warfare will drive rapid IT transition as forces come in and out of theater. This will require IT solutions that enable plug-and-play technologies that transition seamlessly from headquarters to the field.
- For the USMC, “rotational” is all about lift: how do you get them there fast. Expect additional deployment of Ospreys, high-speed vessels and amphibs.
- Pervasive interoperability. The entire PACRIM strategy is about the relationships with the coalition partners.
- The emphasis on the relationships with our coalition partners has never been higher. Technologies that enable increased quantity and quality of training with coalition forces will be in high demand.
- Unified Communications within coalitions still seems to be a desire, vice a delivered product. This is surprising; almost every booth I visited expressed their ability to provide some piece of UC. I’ve seen this problem “solved” many times in my career, however, a delivered, multi-security level UC is still not on the warfighters desk.
- Single log-on, multi domain, turn-it-on NOW, secure, affordable, and scalable coalition architectures.
- Technologies to safeguard crucial information in coalition cyberspace will be in high demand.
- Providing solutions that ensure affordable, secure communications across enclaves will remain a high priority.
- Technologies for a degraded environment. Survivability in a contested environment is essential and will drive increases in tools that enable it. There will be growth in technologies that enable redundant reach back solutions or minimize the impact of a degraded environment. Training solutions to allow testing US prowess in this space are needed. And as always, tools that allow more information to flow through a smaller pipe will continue to be in demand.
- Setting the Boundaries. Tools that help define the “global commons” of the cyber domain, and then defend it when necessary to ensure freedom within the domain are required. This is probably using standards and rules that can be followed in addition to tools that can probe the space – so mostly policy but some technology too.
- Unmanned vehicles are here to stay. The US is working towards getting these technologies to the coalition partners as a way to expand our eyes and ears with lower costs.
- As the ITAR process unfolds and adjusts, bandwidth needs will continue to increase throughout the Pacific.
- The flood of data coming from these vehicles will require the ability to better fuse, analyze, and exploit larger data sets.
There are plenty of opportunities for industry to serve in meeting emerging mission needs because of this new strategy. If you just analyze these needs from the perspective of software you see use cases for Terracotta and their big memory solutions, CleverSafe and their protective/agile storage solutions enabling access from anywhere, and MarkLogic for their interoperable agile development environments that operate over an advanced NoSQL database. There are many more that can contribute to this strategy shift, of course. To find more, or to highlight a capability that you believe needs to be brought to the attention of leaders in PACOM, visit our reference site at CTOlabs.com