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Information 365 24/7.

Somewhere around the globe, enemies of the United States are plotting bad things against good people, friends of the United States need help, a natural disaster has occurred leaving a civilian population in peril and/or a crisis has erupted which has the possibility to affect our national security. The list goes on and on ... turn your television to any news channel or pick up any newspaper and you will be bombarded daily with a number of these events.

Monitoring these events in order to develop and maintain situational awareness, synchronize Combatant Command's global effects and execute initial crisis response is critical in order for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to fulfill his responsibility to provide the best military advice to the Secretary of Defense and the President of the United States.

In this day and age, where technology allows real-time transmission of information around the globe almost instantaneously and the news media seemingly has a camera on every corner, it is imperative that a robust operations center is working 24/7, 365 days a year to ensure the Chairman has the information needed to accomplish his responsibility.

The National Joint Operations and Intelligence Center (NJOIC) is this robust operations center. Its mission is to monitor and facilitate Joint Staff functions and interaction with Combatant Commanders, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, interagencies and the White House Situation Room to ensure the Chairman has the information he needs to meet his responsibility in a timely fashion.

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Led by a General Officer, the NJOIC is made up of representatives from across the Joint Staff directorates and includes liaison officers from external organizations including the Office of the Secretary of Defense, each of the Combatant Commands and each of the Services. With initial stand up in January 2009, the NJOIC end-state vision is for this entire team to be in one large room with minimal barriers to communication. This "flat" organization and set-up is critical to facilitate timely information sharing.

A significant challenge to the NJOIC is the plethora of information sharing technologies available and in use. To be effective and efficient, all parties must be on the same page. This allows for the best capability to collect information, present that information, vet the information and finally, and most importantly, ensure that all parties have a common understanding of what is happening including possible effects. To meet this challenge, the Joint Staff as a whole is transitioning to a single web "portal" with the NJOIC as the "hub" of that portal.

As the hub, the end-state is for all activities of the Joint Staff to operate around the NJOIC. While it may seem counter-intuitive that current operations play such a large role in Joint Staff functions, the speed of technology has significantly decreased our operational timelines. When the NJOIC was put into action, one of the major goals was to transition from the Cold War mentality of very long time horizons and become much more flexible. We must have the vision to see what is coming in the future and be able to anticipate and act accordingly. Today, that operational time line is most accurate out to about 60 days.

In order to be successful, the NJOIC must have the capability to inform. This capability to inform, share and collaborate is the NJOIC's strategic advantage and there is much activity behind it. Information must be gathered, presented and distributed in a manner that allows all to see and develop a common understanding. All this must be done almost instantaneously around the globe. As mentioned above, the Joint Staff is transitioning to a single web portal to facilitate this timely information sharing. Additionally, the Joint Staff directors, NJOIC, COCOM operations centers and service watch cells conduct daily web conferences led by the Director, Joint Staff and Deputy Director, Operations to keep current on key issues around the globe. Another web conference is conducted each afternoon at the Action Officer level to keep current on these key issues as well as to provide status of actions and requests for information. In between these conferences, a running "chat" continues 24/7 with Combatant Commander and Interagency Operations Centers. This chat is continuously monitored and acts similar to a radio "command net" to allow for instantaneous information sharing and discussion, further flattening the decision-making process.

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All of this activity is focused on expanding and accelerating our collective common understanding of events in order to allow for a quicker, more informed decision making process. This will enable us to support the Chairman, in the speed that he and current technology have set, in his responsibility to provide the Secretary of Defense and President of the United States the best military advice.

By CDR Sean Egge, Readiness Division, Logistics Directorate, The Joint Staff, J4

CDR Sean Egge's previous tours include Naval Inventory Control Point and USS Nimitz (CVN 68).
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Author:Egge, Sean
Publication:Navy Supply Corps Newsletter
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2009
Words:821
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