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Global Defense Focus of 38th AFCEA Convention.

Over 15,000 high level command, control, communications and intelligence (C.sup.3 I) decision makers and other professionals attended this year's Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) convention and exposition. Held at the Sheraton Washington Hotel in Washington, DC, the show included 320 exhibitors demonstrating hardware, software and systems for C.sup.3 I.

According to Eugene Murphy (RCA Communications), chairman of the board of AFCEA, the association's membership has risen to 27,000, including 500 corporate members representing 7900 people; 17,000 individual members; and 2,000 other members. "All of AFCEA's members, especially those who serve locally, nationally and internationally in volunteer leadership positions, have made a vital contribution to this success," he said.

The association chairman noted that one of the most important achievements of AFCEA has been the strengthening of its presence in the Far East. He reported that a regional office has been opened in Manila that will provide guidance to the chapters already in place throughout the Far East, and will also oversee the establishment of new local AFCEA facilities.

"AFCEA's reputation is also enhanced by its dedication to keeping up-to-date with the state of C.sup.3 I art," Murphy said. "This year the board authorized the formation of a Technical Committee to not only monitor new developments in C.sup.3 I technology, but also those that are still just a gleam in the eyes of research and development teams in laboratories throughout the Free World. It will be the committee's charge to keep AFCEA's leadership apprised of these developments, to recommend possible areas of AFCEA-sponsored research projects and to see that, as far as possible without jeopardizing national security, new technologies are included at major AFCEA symposia and exhibitions."

Leading authorities representing specialized areas of C.sup.3 I presented inside views during the four professional and managerial panels at the convention.

General John Wickham, chief of staff for the United States Army, Dr. Joseph Boyd, chairman of Harris Corporation, and Senator John Warner, were featured speakers during the convention.

Speaking at the Tuesday luncheon, General Wickham noted the loss of US dominance in industries such as ship building, steel and automobiles and said, "We have in contrast to that the opportunity to assure that doesn't happen in the communications field. We have that capacity if we have the vision and drive to achieve it.

"The introduction of computers and microchips in the command, control, communications and intelligence equation has produced geometric expansion of systems' capabilities that are taxing the limits of human management," he said. Coping with a computer can be a traumatic experience, the general said, but stressed the technology must be mastered by all in the communications and information field.

Wickham discussed the state of the Army, focusing on C.sup.3 I. "At the heart of our defense task is the challenge posed by the Soviet Union in its quest for world dominance," he said. "The Soviet Union now outspends us in terms of defense efforts, spending 14 percent of their gross product for the military."

Wickham reported that rather than increase the size of the Army, the US has concentrated on having first-rate soldiers and equipment. Limited resources and the demographics do not allow the recruitment of more people than are now being recruited into the Army, according to the general. "Several years ago we decided to stay small . . . concentrating on quality, less on quantity, both active and reserve." Part of the reason the Army is able to do this is due to efficiencies produced from technology, he said.

Quality of equipment is a big part of the modernization program. "Good technology establishes credibility in the eyes of our allies and our potential enemies, and more importantly with our soldiers," Wickham said.

"Technology is a tiger we must ride or be eaten by," Wickham told his audience. "This is especially true in the area of command, control, communications and intelligence. All of which are inextricably linked. Manuevering the new weapons systems, responding to enemy initiatives on the battle field, controlling the pace of operations and assuring an overall connectivity between units and their headquarters are going to tax the best of military and industrial leaders," the general said.

Turning to the management of the "information explosion," Wickham reported that the Army created an assistant chief of staff for information management and an Army information-systems command in the field. "The creation of these organizations recognizes the interrelationships of automation and communication and the need to look at both as a system, and to assure we provide total system support to key areas such as command, control, communications and intelligence."

Along with the featured speakers, the convention program had a number of sessions of interest to C.sup.3 I professionals. "Evolutionary Army C.sup.3 I Acquisition Process," addressed the Army's latest efforts to institutionalize the use of non-development items in the acquisition of C.sup.3 I systems. The session also explained how non-development items fit within the evolutionary development process and addressed the impact of these changes on the roles and relationships of the user, the material developer, the contractor, and the Army leadership.

A workshop entitled "Smart Card Technology and Applications," focused on smart-card technology (computer on a chip) as it exists today and as this technology is projected to evolve in the future. It also dealt with Department of Defense requirements for personal-identification and security systems.

AT&T Technologies sponsored a session on fiber optics (see pages 98 and 99). The panel addressed the use of fiber-optic technology, as well as commercial applications currently in use and possible future use of fiber optics.

The AFCEA/FAA Study Group evaluation of the Federal Aviation Administration's Telecommunications Planning for the National Airspace Systems Plan was also presented at the convention. The plan is intended to assist the FAA in its telecommunications planning for the next 20 years.

Dr. Craig Fields, chief scientist of the Information Processing Office of the Defense Advanced Projects Agency conducted a session on strategic computing. According to Fields, many computing problems can be structured so that parts of the calculation can be done simultaneously--in parallel--but standard Neumann machines do only one thing at a time. He discussed how by using new multi-processor architectures containing anywhere from 100 to one million processors, the speed of execution of programs can be increased dramatically.

The 39th AFCEA conference and exposition will be held at the Washington, DC Convention Center, June 4 through 6.
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Publication:Communications News
Date:Aug 1, 1984
Words:1081
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