Increasing military contracts




T

exas
newspapers reported in November that information technology services
giant, Electronic Data Systems (EDS), was in trouble because the
Pentagon was behind by $1.8 billion in payments on a multi-billion
dollar contract it has with the Plano based company. But it’s
unlikely this setback to EDS will kill the project nor buck current
trends of massive DOD contracts awarded to Texas companies and,
perhaps more important, increasing Pentagon spending in the area
of information technology.


The
$6.9 billion deal, awarded in October 2000, established EDS as the
primary Department of Defense contractor—among whose partners
includes Dell Computers—responsible for developing a Navy Marine
Corps Intranet (NMCI). This intranet is the backbone for what’s
called the Information Strike Force, a system that will ensure real-time
worldwide transmission of voice, video, and data services to 400,000
sailors and marines.


The
Pentagon’s delay in payment may not entirely be their doing.
Earlier this year after both the House and Senate’s Armed Services
Committees had taken a hard look at the EDS project, reported

Washington
Technology

, Congress set rigorous testing and performance milestones
as conditions for continued NMCI funding.


But
these types of hurdles probably won’t slow the pace of dramatic
increases in Pentagon spending over the next years. Given that 10
of the top 100 corporations that receive DOD contracts are headquartered
in Texas and that 50 of them have subsidiaries or divisions here,
Texas industry will likely continue to receive large military contracts.


For
example, one year after the EDS contract award, Lockheed Martin
Aerospace, located in Ft. Worth, in partnership with Northrop Grumman’s
Integrated Systems, headquartered in Dallas, and BAE Systems, with
facilities in Austin, was awarded $19 billion to continue work on
the Joint Strike Fighter. The new jet will complement existing fighter
jets for the Navy, will replace the Air Force’s F-16, and will
replace other fighter jets used by the Marines and UK’s Royal
Navy and Royal Air Force.


What
may be telling, more than the sheer magnitude of DOD contract awards,
is the nature of the new work that’s now being funded. The
Navy Marine Corps Intranet being built by EDS, Dell, Microsoft,
Cisco, and others, and the concept of the Information Strike Force,
are both manifestations of a new way of thinking about warfare within
the Navy and within the entire U.S. military establishment—one
that emphasizes information superiority and reliance on information
technology.


Speaking
before the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on
Research and Development in February 2002, the Navy’s Rear
Admiral Kenneth D. Slaght, Commander of the Space and Naval Warfare
Command (SPAWAR), discussed both the Navy Marine Corps Intranet
and the Information Strike Force within the context of the broader
concept of Network Centric Warfare (NCW). He defined NCW as “a
visionary joint concept where a warfighter can instantly access
any piece of information across a secure worldwide network, anywhere,
anytime, in order to direct weapons on target.”


EDS’s
intranet project is just the Navy’s practical application of
the Network Centric Warfare framework. Each branch of the military
is in the midst of a similar “transformation” involving
the application of networked information technologies—a transformation
also driving changes among traditional weapons manufacturers. Texas
military installations, research centers, plus weapons and software
industries are all involved.


Network
Centric Warfare first emerged in articles and books published in
1998, but quickly became a center-piece of U.S. military strategy
by 2001. Among those who helped to push forward NCW theory and practice
is Fred Stein, who until 1998 was a Colonel in the U.S. Army. Since
then he has worked for the MITRE Corporation at its Ft. Hood field
site. The MITRE Corporation is a federally-funded DOD research and
development center jointly headquartered in Massachusetts and Virginia.


“Network
Centric Warfare is a concept that exploits the advances in Information
Age technology to connect battle space entities, read that current
aircraft, ships, tanks, and intelligence sensors to each other as
well as to command and control centers,” Stein said in a recent
interview. “The effect of this rich networking of platforms
is to vastly increase the Warfighter effectiveness of both the new
‘network’ of sensors and engagement platforms as well
as the combat potential of the individual platform. What happens
is the operational tempo is increased, accuracy is enhanced, survivability
and lethality are increased.”


NCW
has its roots in the 1990-91 U.S. war against Iraq, in what many
call the first Information War. That engagement saw the practical
application of C4ISR—Command, Control, Communications, Computers,
Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance. Satellite imagery,
reconnaissance planes, remote commanders, pilots in the air and
soldiers on the ground were linked by communication networks to
deploy “precision” munitions on Iraqi targets.


Texas
military installations supported Operation Desert Storm. Dyess Air
Force Base in Abilene sent B1 Bombers, while Ft. Hood and Ft. Bliss
sent ground troops. After the Gulf War, Texas military installations
continued to support Information Warfare development. By the mid
1990s, the Air Force, under the auspices of the Air Intelligence
Agency, was operating an Information Warfare Center at what was
then Kelly Air Force Base (now at Lackland Air Force Base) in San
Antonio.


“The
Center’s mission is to develop, maintain, and deploy information
warfare/command and control warfare capabilities in support of operations,
campaign planning, acquisition, and testing,” states the MITRE
Corporation’s web site. “It acts as a single focal point
for intelligence data and command and control warfare services,
providing technical expertise for computer and communications security.”


The
MITRE Corporation has made important contributions in Texas to Information
Warfare and its newer derivative NCW. The Air Force Information
Warfare Center has been one of the largest customers of the MITRE’s
San Antonio field site. According to the company’s web site,
MITRE staff supported development of the Center’s Battlelab
and oversees development of “prototype information warfare
concept tools.” At the Ft. Hood field site MITRE’s Fred
Stein supports the Army’s transformation into a digital force
through his position as Department Manager of C3 Battlefield Systems.


Stein
addressed the SMi Group’s Fourth Annual Network Centric Warfare
in London September 2002. His conference bio says he works within
Ft. Hood’s Central Test and Support Facility, where it “provides
him the opportunity to interface directly with the Army as it digitizes
its force and moves toward the Future Combat Systems.” The
company’s annual report says MITRE is “helping the Army
develop ad hoc command and control networks of small, mobile computers,
such as wireless personal digital assistants and laptops.”


Stein,
along with David Alberts and John Garstka, wrote a book in 1998
called Network Centric Warfare. That same year, Garstka co-authored
an article with retired Vice Adm. Arthur Cebrowski, called “Network
Centric Warfare: Its Origin and Future.” Gartska and Cebrowski
said NCW “derives its power from the strong networking of a
well-informed but geographically dispersed force. The enabling elements
are a high-performance information grid, access to all appropriate
information sources, weapons reach and maneuver with precision and
speed of response.”


NCW
and its synonym “transformation” became enshrined in U.S.
defense strategy on September 30, 2001, just weeks after the 9-11
attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. That day the DOD
issued its Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), a report required by
Congress, which said “U.S. military dependence on information
is unprecedented and growing. This is particularly true in light
of the Department’s transition to network-centric warfare.”
The QDR called for the establishment of an office within the Department
of Defense that would help to “transform” the military.
On November 26, 2001, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, calling
him the “father of network-centric warfare,” announced
the appointment of Cebrowski as the Director of a new Office of
Force Transformation. Later, Cebrowski’s colleague Garstka
joined that office as the assistant director for operational concepts.


Throughout
the past year Rumsfeld has pushed the “transformation”
agenda. At an August 2002 town hall meeting at Ft. Hood he stressed
its importance, reported the American Forces Press Service. The
most populated U.S. Army base, Ft. Hood is an appropriate venue
for this subject. Starting as an Experimental Division called Force
XXI in 1995, Ft.. Hood’s 4th Infantry Division, became the
Army’s first digital division in 2000. The core technology
is the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade-and-Below (FBCB2) system.
The DOD says that FBCB2 provides the Army’s digital force with
“on the move, near real-time situational awareness and command
and control information.”


TRW
has been the primary contractor for the FBCB2 system and other functions
of the new digital army. But Ft. Hood has also received help from
Texas’s two big universities, the University of Texas at Austin
and Texas A&M. Both are part of a joint program called University
XXI that is helping with “software agent technology, knowledge
representation, artificial intelligence, and modeling and simulation.”
Funding from the U.S. Army Directorate of Integration increased
from $1.8 million in FY2001 to $2.8 million in 2002.


The
University of Texas at Austin is involved in another project for
the digital army. In June 2002 it was one of 30 to receive a contract
for work on Future Combat Systems (FCS), a joint program between
the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Army.
The program “will define the concept design for a new generation
of deployable, agile, versatile, lethal, survivable, sustainable,
and dominant combat systems,” according to DARPA. “A collaborative
system of networked sensors along with manned and unmanned platforms
are key FCS enablers.” Boeing and Science Applications International
Corporation (SAIC) are the lead integrators on the project. UT Austin
will work on “propulsion, suspension, and tractive system technologies.”
Another Texas company, CyberNet in Plano, was contracted for “planning
and decision aids.”


Providing
research and development for the Department of Defense is nothing
new for the University of Texas at Austin. Its Applied Research
Laboratories (ARL), one of six DOD-managed University Affiliated
Research Centers in the country, has worked for the DOD since World
War II. In August 2001, the DOD awarded ARL $291 million for a range
of research areas including “command, control, communications,
computers, and intelligence, as applied to information warfare,
modeling and simulation, synthetic forces testing, electromagnetic
instrumentation and innovative computer and software development.”


The
Information Systems Laboratory, one of ARL’s divisions, includes
NCW on its research agenda. It is also part of a university consortium
researching “complexity management to better understand, mitigate,
prevent and devise more effective ways to cope with complex situations
and events that can become threats to U.S. national security.”
These threats include asymmetric warfare and cyber terrorism. ISL
is also coordinating research for “command and control of state
agencies and first responders for Homeland Defense.”


Outside
of the Texas military installations and the private and university
research and development centers, the rest of the work on NCW is
performed by the traditional weapons industry and the not-so-traditional
software industry. Cycorp Inc., is an artificial intelligence software
firm in Austin. The company has been providing software support,
as part of a team of 18 DARPA contractors—including MITRE and
MIT—to design the Command Post of the Future (CPOF). This program,
according to DARPA, “has developed tools that radically improve
a commanders’ understanding of the tactical situation on the
ground.” The key to this new command post is the BattleBoard—basically
a wireless web tablet connected to the battlefield local area network
(LAN)—that can be used to “maintain full situational awareness
and collaborative planning capability.” The Army and Marine
Corps will eventually use this technology.


Two
North Texas companies, Northrop Grum- man’s Integrated Systems
and Raytheon’s Network Centric Systems are traditional weapons
manufacturers that have invested heavily in the NCW concept. As
early as January 2000, Frank Marchilena, then president of what
was Raytheon’s C3I Systems, told Washington Technology that,
“Network-centric warfare is our biggest growth area.”
That division later merged with Raytheon’s ES Tactical Systems
to become Network Centric Systems. The new business “develops
and produces network centric solutions that integrate sensors, systems
and secure communications to manage the battlespace and airspace.”
The parent company is headquartered in Massachusetts and is among
the top five defense contractors in the country.


Northrop
Grumman’s Integrated Systems describes itself as an “aerospace
systems integration enterprise” with expertise in airborne
surveillance and battle management, early warning, airborne electronic
warfare, and air combat aircraft. It is an example of a growing
number of “integrators” benefiting from the current military
transformation. The company says it is integrating its “capabilities
for emerging network-centric warfare concepts.” The division
takes pride in its Global Hawk, an autonomously controlled unmanned
system. Vice President Carl Johnson said in June 2002 that the Global
Hawk had achieved 1,000 flight hours assisting the Air Force over
Afghanistan in Operation Enduring Freedom.


The
combined use of unmanned air craft in conjunction with ground troops
was one of many “firsts” in the Afghanistan conflict,
according to Ben Moores an industry analyst for Frost & Sullivan.
In an article “The Dawn of Network Centric Warfare?,”
published just after Operation Enduring Freedom, Moores concluded
that the “ ‘prophets’ of network centric warfare”
were right. Moores’s analysis of U.S. forces in Afghanistan
was that “information superiority through the application of
network centric warfare allowed US forces to lower the sensor to
shooter loop time considerably which had a marked effect on the
way the war was fought.”


Fred
Stein is one of the “prophets” mentioned by Moores. Stein,
in a recent interview, said there were many instances of NCW being
applied in Operation Enduring Freedom. “For example, a link
from Special Forces to Navy Air Craft to Air Force C2 Aircraft to
B52 was established on the fly resulting in an extremely effective
air to ground support mission,” Stein said. “As a concept
all the U.S. Services have been experimenting and exercising NCW
for several years to better understand and exploit it as a new method
of conducting war. NCW is the key to the revolution in military
affairs like that of the German Blitzkrieg of WWII.”


The
United States is preparing to fight a war against Iraq. Ft. Hood’s
4th Infantry Division, the first digital army, will likely be on
the front lines. Other NCW technologies and forces from Texas and
the nation will be deployed. Like Afghanistan, Iraq will be another
live test for new warfighting concepts and an opportunity for fresh
innovation. But none of this changes the nature of war or why the
United States fights wars. A question to ask is: who will gain from
a U.S. war on Iraq? Most Iraqis will not, especially the ones who
become “collateral damage.” Most Americans will not, especially
if the war pushes the economy into a tailspin. But the weapons manufactures
will gain, as will all the engineers, software developers, policy
makers, and lobbyists who support them. In the end, Network Centric
Warfare may be a “revolution” in military affairs, but
it may also just be a flashy marketing concept designed to channel
more taxpayers’ money into weapons research, development, and
manufacture, part of the seemingly never ending cycle of procurement
and deployment in the military economy.