Information superiority demands rapid adjustments

Released: Jan 22, 1997

(Editor's note: This is part of a series on the Air Force's core values and core competencies.)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The technological explosion in computers and communications is transforming every area of the military by providing commanders with unprecedented amounts of information.

Rather than be overwhelmed by these changes, the Air Force is taking steps so that it can retain the ability to use and protect the information spectrum well into the next century through the core competency of information superiority.

Information superiority joins air and space superiority, global attack, rapid global mobility, precision engagement and agile combat support as one of six core competencies that help form the Air Force's new strategic vision: "Global Engagement: A Vision for the 21st Century Air Force."

"As the executive agent for battle management and command and control, the Air Force has the charter to be the integrators for the joint force," Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman, Air Force chief of staff, said. "This requires an aggressive effort at exploiting information sources and defending our increasingly intensive information operations."

He said the ability of the future joint team to achieve dominant battlefield awareness will depend heavily on the Air Force's air- and space-based assets that provide global awareness, intelligence, communications, weather and navigation support.

"While information superiority is not the Air Force's sole domain, it is, and will remain, an Air Force core competency," said Secretary of the Air Force Sheila E. Widnall. "The strategic perspective and the flexibility gained from operating in the air-space continuum make airmen uniquely suited for information operations."

Providing full spectrum dominance, Widnall said, "requires a truly interactive common battlespace picture. The Air Force is committed to providing the integrated global and theater air, space and surface picture of the battlespace to the 21st century joint force commander. Connectivity and compatibility are key."

The chief of staff explained that future battle-management and command-and-control systems will enable real-time control and execution of all air and space missions. The Air Force, he said, "will also ensure that its information systems will be fully interoperable for seamless integrated battlespace management."

Fogleman said the Air Force is also seeking new ideas to support information superiority.

"We are open for new techniques and procedures and alternative means to help us provide this core capability," he said. "Among the tools we will exploit are unmanned aerial vehicles for surveillance and communications. In the future, we will look at using them for other missions.

"This whole area of information superiority must include an aggressive effort to defend our increasing intensive information capabilities," Widnall said, noting that this area will grow in importance during the 21st century.

The Air Force is already active in the garrison defense of computer systems and formed the 609th Information Warfare Squadron (Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.) last year. The secretary said the Air Force will continue to invest in defensive information warfare to defend its forward-deployed assets, particularly in battle management and command and control.

On the offensive side of information superiority, the Air Force will emphasize operational and tactical information warfare. Along with other federal agencies, it will also continue to support strategic information operations.