FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - "You have to think big. You have to think together."

That was the first of many messages from the key speaker at the opening plenary session of the 2009 LandWarNet Conference here. The LWN Conference runs Aug. 18-22, and is a joint knowledge symposium headed by the Army's Chief Information Office/G-6 and the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association designed to bring government and industry together to share ideas, best business practices, and future initiatives.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. John Dubia, AFCEA's executive vice-president, opened the conference by welcoming the attendees, whose numbers are expected to exceed last year's by nearly 20 percent. With a standing-room-only crowd, the Army's Chief Information Officer Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Sorenson encouraged those attending to visit with vendors in the showcase area and share ideas and to give them an idea of what the Warfighters on the ground need.

"You must continue to figure out how to best support our Soldiers," Sorenson said.

The morning's key speaker was Gen. Carter Ham, U.S. Army Europe/7th Army commanding general. His message to the assembled Army leadership and industry was based on his experiences in numerous Army and Joint assignments. he Recalled that one mission, "Operation Burnt Frost," required the collaboration and constant communications between nearly all branches of the Armed Services and government agencies to shoot down a satellite in a decaying orbit. The success of the mission was squarely the result of the near-real-time communications between all parties. Ham didn't mince words.

"This is how we should operate all of the time!"

Ham emphasized the difference between the Signal of yester-year and Signal today. Where Signal was once an "afterthought" in the mission planning process, he saw how important it was to have Signal involved from inception to execution. Still, Ham said Signal must change in order to be completely successful. He used the Berlin Wall as a metaphor to today's networks.

"The Berlin Wall fell because they failed to appreciate the human drive to connect," he said. "Do we want to build firewalls, or do we want to build a Signal infrastructure that supports collaboration' Firewalls are built due to lack of trust... we must build trust. Trust is going to be needed to operate the network the way we should."

Trust, he admitted, was one of the biggest challenges and would require a complete cultural shift. Commanders need to understand that they don't need to own the equipment to leverage the capabilities of the network.

Ham also spoke of the stand-up of the U.S. Cyber Command, not allowing adversaries to operate in the "cyber" world uncontested, and defense of the networks. This was another challenge, citing the shift toward use of social networking services while maintaining security on the networks.

"We must balance risk, but realize it will never go to zero."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16