ADM Harry Harris
Commander, U.S. Pacific Command
Department of Defense Intelligence Information Systems (DoDIIS)
August 3, 2016
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to thank the D.I.A.’s Chief Information Officer, Ms. Janice Glover-Jones, for putting this important event together. I’m grateful for the opportunity to address this audience, the foremost experts in the DoD Intelligence and Information systems, or DoDIIS – and the highest concentration of level 20-plus Pokemon Go players in all of Atlanta.
And this audience is the keeper of the keys to the largest repository of acronyms on the planet. Acronyms do kill.
Before I begin my remarks I’d like to tell you a quick story about brevity. President Coolidge was notorious for being a man of few, yet measured words. A young woman once sat next to him at a dinner party. She told him that she made a bet that she could get him to have a conversation of three words or more. Silent Cal, without even looking her way, quietly responded, “You lose.”
With that in mind, my remarks will be brief so that we can all win. In all seriousness, this forum is the perfect place to discuss how we can use and improve our information systems to better inform and integrate at the speed of operations.
Today, I’ll give you my perspective on why systems that quickly and coherently deliver intelligence and information to our operators and coalition partners are so critical to mission success. I’ll also outline some opportunities where I believe DoDIIS can improve warfighter decisions, plans, and operations.
Perhaps it’s best I set the stage for you by providing a little context about the U.S. Pacific Command, or PACOM, America’s first and largest combatant command.
We’re made up of approximately 380,000 uniformed and civilian professionals from the – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Department of Defense – who stand the watch over half the Earth – from Hollywood to Bollywood and polar bears to penguins.
The PACOM area of responsibility includes 36 countries spanning 14 time zones. Headquartered in Hawaii, PACOM is responsible for all U.S. military operations in this vast area, including operations, exercises and capacity building with our allies and partners.
The tyranny of distance in the PACOM theater is cruel. So I hope that you’re starting to see how important it is getting the right information at the right time is to us out in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.
Which leads to my first point – as the Joint Force Commander in such an expansive area of the world, it's an understatement for me to stand up here and tell you that information and intelligence are critical to my mission success. Information systems are the key enablers in our theater.
From the birth of JWICs and the evolution and expansion of DoDIIS, the last decade has been a complex journey. We witnessed the relatively smooth transition of the Desktop Environment to the Common Operating Environment or COE.
Many of you in this room worked hard to ensure the DoDIIS infrastructure, applications, and content delivery contained relevant information, delivered at the right speed, and was presented coherently.
From my personal experience as a system user, I can tell you that the insights from intelligence derived over DoDIIS are intuitive and easy to grasp. I don’t have to become the lead analyst, I get to be the lead user. Foundationally, we improve the value of those insights and opportunities by delivering them through an assured and integrated I.T. system of systems, of which DoDIIS is the DoD’s platform.
I know that the goal of Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise, or ICITE, is to get the entire intelligence community onto the same operating environment. Once fully realized, this could revolutionize how intelligence is accessed, shared, and used across the U.S. government.
As a recovering C.I.O. myself, I know what a noble and worthy goal this is and I appreciate that many of you here are working toward that end. Our information advantage and networked warfare capabilities continue to give us an edge. But we will only keep that edge if you continue to improve DoDIIS and ICITE.
We’ve come a long way, but we’ve still got work to do. So don’t let up. Our adversaries aren’t going to let up.
It’s probably no surprise that intelligence is often considered the coin of the realm in our plans and operations – as our operational environment gets more complex, I require it at a faster pace.
But some people equate faster with more – I don’t. More might be useful, but what I need most is intel presented in a coherent manner so as not to increase confusion or cause information-overload. This point is illustrated in a great 2011 Newsweek article by Sharon Begley titled “the science of making decisions.”
The article talks about how decision makers can be fooled by immediacy and quantity and think it’s quality. Every bit of incoming information presents a choice: whether to pay attention, whether to reply, whether to factor it into an impending decision. But decision science shows us that people faced with a plethora of choices are apt to make no decision at all – they become victims of information-paralysis.
It just happened to me this morning playing Pokemon Go. After receiving a text from a friend, I was heading to a nearby Poke Stop to catch a Zubat. Then suddenly, I got an e-mail tipper about a special Pikachu on the other side of the city. Now, Atlanta is a big place. Should I take the sure thing or go after the Pokemon not yet in my Pokedex? Was the text or the e-mail more reliable? Was someone spoofing me? Was it worth the walk? Did I have enough time to make it? What action should I take?
With so many variables to consider, I just walked in the nearest Starbucks and got a coffee.
Unfortunately for me, I didn’t have my outstanding J-2 team – led by Brigadier General Jeff Kruse and Mr. Andy Singer – to help me figure out these perplexing questions.
What I needed was a seamless connection to others who could help me make the right decision. I can joke about Pokemon Go, but in the real world, a decision must be made and the stakes are too high to get it wrong.
So a bit of evolution is needed.
We need a system that is classification-agnostic to integrate SIPR-Net and related U.S. and partner Command and Control systems. DoDIIS and JWICs are critical – but to make what they deliver decisive, the information and delivery need to be as seamless as classification should, and can, allow. This will ensure crucial details are delivered to operational commanders and weapons systems throughout the joint force.
If we can integrate all of the disparate information systems across the intelligence community, our operations will improve because the right information will be shared with the right people, in the right place, at the right time.
The steps we’re taking to integrate information with the mission are promising. In fact, back at PACOM headquarters, we’ve taken steps to integrate our operations, intelligence, and cyber communities.
As part of our daily battle rhythm, I conduct a synchronization meeting where all of my staff and service component representatives get together to share information. More and more often these meetings ride on DoDIIS. And, when properly sanitized, shared on SIPR-Net.
I, like many Combatant Commanders – including my good friend and classmate Admiral Cecil Haney, who you’ll hear from later today – have DoDIIS and COE accounts. My Plans, Intel and Ops all interface on COE. And I look forward to an integrated desktop to get rid of all of those switchboxes cluttering my desk – after all, a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind.
In our daily routine, as it is across much of DoD, intelligence is delivered, discovered, posted, and integrated on DoDIIS. The video desktop feature makes it even better. DoDIIS is a crucial element of planning, operations, and decision making in the Indo-Asia Pacific. During our current phase zero operations, DoDIIS makes a difference to PACOM every day – and I will certainly depend on it in the event of combat operations.
But we can be better, I believe. So let me share some thoughts about how DoDIIS can improve support to PACOM as we work to defend and protect the United States and our allies in the Indo-Asia-Pacific. Some people may look at these thoughts darkly and call them challenges. But we should really consider them as opportunities to improve mission effectiveness.
First, we need to more rapidly access and share intelligence and information within and between our communities of interest. Any system that better facilitates our ability to access this critical intelligence and share it with coalition partners has my support.
Second, we must continue to assure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of our data. This is non-negotiable. I commend DoDIIS for having cybersecurity built-in up front.
Third, not every new gadget, app, or configuration helps all users all the time – so let’s be judicious when we rollout new solutions. Many of our warfighters and coalition partners do not have information systems with enough capacity to handle extremely large volumes of information transfers in an efficient manner or at different classification levels. What works efficiently in D.C. may not work effectively in the field, so let’s consider optional configurations for those at the pointy end of the spear.
Fourth, design, build, and test these systems to ensure, at a minimum, they continue to deliver crucial intelligence and information quickly, coherently and assuredly in the same degraded environments that our warfighters operate in.
Folks, I’m a simple guy who was deeply saddened to hear last week’s news that the world’s last V.C.R. came off the production line.
But even I know that we need to do a better job of overcoming technological challenges in the joint environment – for example, we need to think through how to move multiple 500-megabyte images for targeting and battle damage assessment to an aircraft carrier or Army/Marine TOC or an A.O.C. when we are bandwidth-limited. And I believe we will be bandwidth-limited against potential adversaries in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.
Foreign disclosure is also a consideration that spans all four of the previous thoughts. I would like to see an automated method for rapidly marking data with the most flexible classification possible, so that we can share it with our coalition partners at the speed of operations. Smarter desktop classification tools need to be built in and default to protecting information but also allowing for wide dissemination.
Developing rapid information sharing with our partners via our core information systems – such as the Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System, or CENTRIXS; the All Partners Access Network, or APAN; the Asian Pacific Intelligence Information Network, orAPIIN; and the Mission Partner Environment – isn’t simply a nice to have. It’s as essential as DoDIIS itself.
Military operations depend on information technology and intelligence. As we confront evolving, agile, and advanced adversaries, we must ensure our continued access to an uninterrupted flow of intelligence and a sharing of information to maintain our superiority. Nowhere is this more relevant than in the PACOM area of responsibility.
Secretary Carter has identified 5 global strategic challenges and 4 of them are in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, my theater: North Korea, which remains the most dangerous, imminent threat; ISIL, the growing terrorist threat; a revanchist Russia, which remains an existential threat; and a rising China, which is fine, but acting aggressively, which is not.
Confronting doesn’t mean just with military power. It means demonstrating resolve with both words and actions.
It’s why the United States will continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows. And I need your help. All of us who are committed to the rules based order should do this.
Freedom of the seas matters. Freedom in the air and space matters. The free flow of information and commerce matters. History proves that championing open access to shared domains is the only “win-win” that matters.
DoDIIS is the backbone of the Commander’s decision cycle – it provides the capability for sharing sensitive information and intelligence and helps me to make the right decision. So I commend your efforts thus far and challenge you to continue to evolve DoDIIS. Our competitors and adversaries are learning organizations. More so than ever, we must be, also.
Folks, I’ve talked too long. Right about now, I bet the person who invited me to speak is regretting the decision to bring an East Tennessean with an analog watch, who doesn't have a Facebook page, who wouldn't know a tweet from a snapchat, to address this conference about Pokemon Go … and DoDIIS.
So I’ll leave you with this simple message – information and intelligence matter. What matters more is that you find and field ways to pass more of it coherently, faster and easier – especially coherently.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to close with a thought on how blessed we are as a Nation. We’re fortunate to have informed citizens, people just like you, who are aware of the challenges, opportunities, and dangers we face around the world.
You play an important part in shaping our Nation’s future. Your work furthers our warfighting ability by extending our information advantages.
As President Eisenhower once noted, “Only alert and knowledgeable citizens can ensure the responsible use of power, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”
You epitomize, in my opinion, President Eisenhower’s “alert and knowledgeable citizenry.”
I’m grateful for your efforts. We’re in this together, so let me know when and how I can help. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.
Thank you very much.