WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 9th, 2015) -- From computers and laptops, to smartphones and tablets, being "in the know" is the baseline for effective organization and leadership.

In today's Army, mission command means effective communication across all commands, mediums and environments that is pervasive, protected and utilized to greatest efficiency, said Army leaders during a discussion sponsored by the Association of the United States Army, or AUSA, July 9.

"Mission command is fundamental to assuring our Army stays strong," said Brig Gen. John A. George, director of capabilities development for the Army Capabilities Integration Center. "We need an integrated and coordinated management system to drive that operation."

The Better Buying Power, or BBP, program's focus on cost reduction and resource attainment has made an important difference in how the Army cultivates new technology to meet ever-increasing standards of productivity and security, said Lt. Gen. Michael E. Williamson, the principal military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology.

"With the access to technology our adversaries have, it becomes imperative we look at promising tech and create a mechanism for the Army to interact with industry partners to both help and, at least demonstrate, a significant interest in certain areas," Williamson said.

What this looks like, for Williamson, is crafting one solid network that is protected from adversaries. By centralizing resources in one place, the Army can avoid overloading servers with multiple protections and instead lock down one system from enemy threats, Williamson said. Eliminating the existing bureaucracy of networks would allow for a more robust and resilient system that could withstand the instability of cyber environments.

"Our enemies have access to technology they've never had before," Williamson said. "It's an opportunity for them to communicate as well as to stop us [from communicating]."

In addition to providing a block against cyber attacks, a singular network would, for George, enable greater Army efficiency. Working closely with data analysts and applications, George has witnessed the power of coordinated data collection as it expedites mundane tasks to tackle even greater challenges.

"The network provides more than beans and bullets and where your next location is. The network is an enabler," George said.

An Army network, which is intuitive, cohesive and accessible regardless of location, device or user, is imperative for creating a stronger mission command.

Brig Gen. Willard M. Burleson, director of the Mission Command Center of Excellence, commented on the importance of network access for all of the Army's NATO allies, including extending support beyond the 29 members already participating.

"We don't fight alone anymore, we fight as coalitions and we've got to work with our partners," Burleson said.

With a focus on cost reduction, increased resiliency and robustness of the existing network, and a forward-thinking attitude, panelists acknowledged communication as one of the Army's chief strengths.

"One of our enduring capabilities giving us an advantage over our enemies is our ability to procure and disseminate information," Williamson said.

Held at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Virginia, the AUSA "Hot Topics" forum provided members of the Army, the tech industry and academia with a chance to discuss their interrelated fields.