NORAD, USNORTHCOM participate in SPACECOMM 2007
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — When it comes to information, four things matter most: what is available and whether people have what they need, how people can get it if they don't have it, who needs to know it, and whether the people who need it have it.
That's according to U.S. Northern Command Deputy Commander Army Lt. Gen. Joseph R. Inge, who spoke to attendees of the ninth annual Defending America/SPACECOMM 2007 Symposium Jan. 24 at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo. The theme of this year's symposium was "Information Dominance Through Knowledge Management."
Several leaders from USNORTHCOM and the North American Aerospace Defense Command spoke at the symposium, which is a forum for government and industry experts in the domains of command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
Maj.-Gen. Brett D. Cairns, NORAD Operations director, listed "just a few aspects" of knowledge management as "trying to identify the knowledge, capture it, store it, update it, access, transfer.
"Technology can help us a lot in many of these areas," Cairns said, "but ... it's a human endeavor."
NORAD and USNORTHCOM personnel pull information from all available public, government and military sources, analyze it and then put it into "bite-size chunks" for the NORAD-USNORTHCOM commander, said NORAD and USNORTHCOM Chief of Staff Air Force Maj. Gen. Paul J. Sullivan. The information and analysis determine what actions the commands will take in response to any given incident.
"What we're really trying to do," Sullivan said, "is form the next five minutes, one hour, two hours, four hours, four days, of actions (and) pulling the plans off the shelf – as the plan is appropriate – whether it's for defense support (or) defense of the homeland."
The plans waiting to be pulled off the shelf at USNORTHCOM are called "pre-scripted mission assignments." The command has 18 of them, and they cover defense support of civil authorities missions ranging from the preparation of temporary housing sites to the operation of temporary medical treatment facilities to providing helicopter and communications support.
Pre-scripted mission assignments allow USNORTHCOM and other federal, state and local agencies to "talk to each other in a common language," said Bernd "Bear" McConnell, director of the USNORTHCOM's Interagency directorate.
Personnel in the NORAD-USNORTHCOM command center at Peterson Air Force Base use their knowledge management skills to analyze about 20 threats a day in the aerospace, maritime warning, sea, land, air, space and cyber domains, said USNORTHCOM Operations Director Army Maj. Gen. William G. Webster Jr.
"The way you get ready to fight a fight or accomplish something in a time of crisis is ... to plan ahead, see what the threats are, coordinate well, train and rehearse what you're going to have to do through exercises and other things," Webster said.
Advances in technology have changed the way people and organizations manage knowledge, Inge said.
"We are in different times," he said. "It's different than the Cold War. We're in an assymetric time. We have different systems, and we have to bring them together."