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Air Force merging information technology offices

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

TYSONS CORNER, Va. (Dec. 09, 2004) -- The secretary of the Air Force announced Dec. 7 plans to consolidate three headquarters-level organizations under one commander.

The offices of warfighting integration, the chief information officer and communications operations will be reorganized into the office of networks and warfighting integration-chief information officer, in an effort to best integrate current and emerging technologies with warfighting operations, Air Force Secretary Dr. James G. Roche said.

"Warfighters and decision makers are dependant on information that is generated and shared across networks worldwide," the secretary said. "To best leverage current and emerging technologies with warfighting requirements, we are moving to establish a new organization. We will see better information technology support to (them)."

Secretary Roche said plans for the reorganization will be available by the new year. Implementation of the reorganization would happen around spring. Air Force officials said they plan for the director of the new structure to be a lieutenant general with a career Senior Executive Service civilian as the deputy.

The secretary's announcement came during an information technology conference here where leaders from around the Air Force and the information technology industry gathered to discuss the service's vision for streamlining the warfighting process.

The theme of the one-day conference was "Shortening the kill chain through seamless integration."

In the Air Force command and control community, "kill chain" refers to the series of events leading from identification of a potential target to the ultimate destruction or "kill" of that target. The target could be a building, a cave, a convoy or a communications tower.

"The kill chain (is) the most fundamental process in the battle space," said Maj. Gen. Marc Rogers, Air Force Materiel Commandís director of transformation. "We need to focus on things in the back end. It's about a touch of the screen (and getting) understandable information to the deciders at all levels and doing that rapidly. We will attack the time barrier to become faster, more capable and more efficient, and do it inside the enemy's reaction time."

Other key messages from Air Force leaders to industry included ensuring that new systems be compatible between U.S. military services and Americaís allies, finding ways to effectively and accurately differentiate between data and decision-quality information, and getting decision-quality information to decision makers as quickly as possible.

The Air Force's chief information officer emphasized the importance the Air Force puts on information in modern warfighting.

"Increasingly, it's less about the technology to move and manipulate bits or to store them," John M. Gilligan said. "It's more about managing the information and providing the information such that it can provide to our operators the ability to make informed decisions.

"Information now needs to be managed for the common good and treated as a capability," he said. "Information is an enabler, and increasingly, having information is the capability needed to act decisively in an operation."