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USAF GeoBase Forum - Apr/Jun 00
Table Of Contents

Linking GeoBase and Operational Doctrine: A Strategy for Sustained Growth
Lt Col Brian Cullis, USAF
GeoBase Initiative Coordinator
Institute for Information Technology Applications

From front-line troops on defense installations around the world to senior flag officers at the highest levels of the Department of Defense (DoD), the GeoBase vision is being embraced as a vital, achievable component for our installations in the near-term. However, enduring changes in information behavior across the USAF and DoD enterprises can only be achieved if the GeoBase concept is woven into long-standing operational principles. This article will present the GeoBase Community with a context for understanding how the GeoBase effort is seeking long-term viability by linking with recent joint doctrine. This article is part of a more comprehensive GeoBase Executive Summary scheduled to be published later this summer.

During the GeoBase Decision Brief to the USAF Chief Information Officer Management Board (CIOMB) in Mar 00, the goal of the GeoBase Initiative was described as "providing installations with the organic capacity to access, maintain, and exploit one geospatial information infrastructure supporting mission needs." The most challenging portion of any change initiative is bridging the wide chasm between the vision and the daunting obstacles of real implementation. A wise man once said "There is a fine line between a vision and a hallucination". Indeed, we'd be hallucinating to believe "all installations are created alike". Such grand assumptions are usually accompanied by corollaries such as "similar functional organizations follow the same business processes". GeoBase success to date can partly be attributed to our acknowledging that even within the rigid DoD bureaucracy, there will be information behavior differences. Therefore, we must take every effort to understand the realities of the target environment as we build our GeoBase design.

Consider the challenges implicit in simply clarifying the term 'installation' found in the GeoBase goal statement. Most will agree that an installation (base) can be defined as a site containing facilities and infrastructure from which operations are projected/supported and these bases will vary in size, location, and operations. However, Figure 1 shows how a base can be characterized by mode, focus and identity as well.

Figure 1. Characterizations of USAF Basing (AF Doctrine Document 2-4.4)

The nature of the Global Engagement strategy has led to two fundamental modes for USAF basing: garrison (existing fixed location) and expeditionary (contingency location). However, a site can be further described by the weapon system or weapon support system that forms the major operating focus of the base or installation. Bases are also labeled by functional identities such as MOB, COB, and FOB, with each identity carrying varied requirements for funding, personnel support, and weapon system operations.

The basing mode offers two different information environments for our GeoBase solution. A garrison base represents the traditional concept of an Air Force base, with developed infrastructure, permanent facilities, and an established workforce and generally applies to active, reserve, and National Guard installations as well as depots, training centers, and test ranges. Primary missions at a garrison base might range from power projection to a depot function mission, or an associated guard or reserve unit mission. The inclusion of families and their related support structures drive planning, programming, and operating requirements not typically found at expeditionary sites. At garrison bases, the maintenance of a sense of community and the perception of the overall quality of life can affect readiness and mission accomplishment. In addition to these internal relationships, USAF garrison bases must consider how operations impact the surrounding community. Furthermore, infrastructure and facilities are more formally programmed, developed, operated, and maintained on garrison bases which employ master plans to describe present and future conditions, constraints, and future development goals. Infrastructure and facility related work on a garrison base can be described as a continuous, cyclical process involving programming, design, construction, operation, maintenance, demolition, and back to programming.

More frequently, US forces are being deployed to a host nation as an expeditionary force to MOBs, COBs or FOBs. The expeditionary basing mode may find a task force commander being offered resources ranging from a fully equipped installation to a bare base with little more than a water source and bare land. The Pacific Air Forces have coined the term GeoReach to describe their efforts in extending GeoBase principles to expeditionary bases outside the battlespace where NIMA is sole provider of geospatial information and services. Therefore, the realities of the two basing modes and their relative distances from NIMA support mandates the GeoBase roadmap include two distinct yet overlapping geospatial information infrastructures.

If the GeoBase is to become an integral component of the larger defense information infrastructure, we must also appreciate the larger information infrastructure initiatives. In Sep of 99, the DoD Chief Information Officer defined the goal of the Global Information Grid as follows: "The globally interconnected, end-to-end set of information capabilities, associated processes and personnel for collecting, processing, storing, disseminating and managing information on demand to warfighters, policy makers, and support personnel. The GIG includes all owned and leased communications and computing systems and services, software (including applications), data, security services and other associated services necessary to achieve Information Superiority… The GIG supports all DoD, National Security, and related intelligence community missions and functions (strategic, operational, tactical and business), in war and in peace. The GIG provides capabilities from all operating locations (bases, posts, camps, stations, facilities, mobile platforms and deployed sites". The all-inclusive scope of the GIG shows why the IITA staff closely aligned the GeoBase effort with the Global Combat Support System Requirements Integration Division at Air Staff since they are responsible for ensuring Air Force enterprise IT efforts are compliant with the GIG architecture.

Figure 2. Information Infrastructure Hierarchy

It is proposed that a newly designated GeoBase Information Infrastructure (GBII) be focused on supporting garrison bases, while the GeoReach Information Infrastructure (GRII) will be designed to extend the GeoBase operating principles into the expeditionary environment. As noted in earlier briefings, both the GBII and the GRII are part of a "base to battlespace" geospatial information and services (GI&S) continuum with the aim of developing a "maintain as we fight with GI&S" capability in concert with long-established NIMA operational practices. Figure 2 portrays how both the GBII and GRII lie within the GII, which is defined by NIMA as "a collection of people, doctrine, policies, architectures, standards and technologies necessary to create, maintain, and sustain the use of geospatial information in the context of a geospatial framework."

Extensive partnering between the respective members of the defense GII community will continue to be a critical precursor for GeoBase success. Additionally, reaching back to the guiding operational doctrine at the joint and service levels also presents a stable foundation for developing more detailed operational, system and technical architectures for the USAF GeoBase. Hopefully the concepts proposed in this article will serve as viable seed for sustained GeoBase growth.


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