Gathering useful information is essential to the new ways of combat
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, information that leads to quick, high-quality decisions has become an even more valuable weapon, according to the Army's new chief information officer.
"Pervasive and global information to enable joint decision-makers is what we're all about," said Lt. Gen. Steven Boutelle, who became the Army's CIO last month. "If we forget that, we have totally missed why we are here."
The Army's top information technology priority is to support soldiers engaged in operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, specifically to maintain the command, control, communications and computer (C4) networks throughout southwest Asia and worldwide, Boutelle said.
"Information for information's sake is not a value-added commodity," he said during a July 29 interview in his Pentagon office, which is adorned with numerous awards, pictures, a giant flat-screen television tuned to CNN and sweets behind his desk to keep his energy levels high during long days and nights. "We could put out terabytes of information, but unless it facilitates a commander making a better decision faster, it's of little value."
Boutelle said his other priorities include:
n Identifying and refining how the Army's active, Reserve and Guard networks, particularly logistics systems, come together and work in a joint Defense Department architecture.
n Redefining the training and structure of the signal corps so it can support multiple organizations instead of a specific unit.
n Developing a coherent satellite acquisition program for the Future Combat Systems (FCS) and the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T).
FCS and WIN-T are being built with capabilities in mind rather than strict requirements. That's the right thing to do, Boutelle said, but he added that the Army must regain its focus on satellite terminals and the equipment needed to support them.
"We lost visibility of what the right terminal is for when [these] systems start to appear," with regard to the numbers, specific equipment and the right antennae, Boutelle said. "I'm not comfortable that we've laid that out for the senior leadership. We have not yet refined that process."
FCS, the cornerstone of the service's transformation effort, is a networked family of 19 systems using advanced communications technologies to link soldiers with manned and unmanned air and ground platforms and sensors. WIN-T eventually will provide soldiers on the battlefield with modern, real-time voice, video and data services.
Boutelle took over as CIO after working for two years as director of information operations, networks and space in the office of his predecessor, Lt. Gen. Peter Cuviello. Boutelle credited Cuviello with instituting the Army Knowledge Management guidance memorandum process, which established the foundation for the Army's enterprise services efforts.
Cuviello paid the Army's new CIO the ultimate compliment when he said that Boutelle is the right man to succeed him.
"Boutelle is the right man at the right time to carry the Army C4/IT environment to the next level," Cuviello wrote in an e-mail message. "He has been a key team member on the formulation and implementation of both the tactical and business pieces of the Army knowledge environment. He is well-suited and very able to take the lead."
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Kellogg, former director of command, control, communications and computers for the Joint Staff, called Boutelle a great officer and said he is eminently qualified to succeed Cuviello.
Born in Pasco, Wash., Boutelle attended high school in Portland, Ore., and claims Gig Harbor, Wash., as his home. Growing up in the northwestern United States instilled a love of snow-skiing and ocean sports in him, although he said he hasn't had much time for those activities or his newest passion, golf.
"It's interesting in the military. You have garages and basements full of hobbies, and more and more of them that collect dust," he said.
When Boutelle does break away from his professional duties, he said he tries to spend time with his family, especially his 16-year-old daughter, who is quickly establishing a life of her own.
But for now, the Army's new CIO is working overtime, fueled by the giant containers of animal crackers and jelly beans on a shelf behind his desk.
"You've got to have those for nights and weekends," Boutelle said — proof positive that getting warfighters and commanders worldwide the right information, when they need it, takes more than 40 hours a week.
The Steven Boutelle file
Title: Army chief information officer.
Education: Bachelor's degree in business and finance from the University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, Wash., and a master's in business administration from Marymount University, Arlington, Va.
Previous assignments: Army director of information operations, networks and space, Office of the Chief Information Officer, 2001-2003; program executive officer for command, control and communications systems, 1997-2001; project manager for field artillery tactical data systems, 1992-1996.
Command tours: Commander, B Company, 58th Signal Battalion, Fort Lewis, Wash.; site chief of the Main Command Post, South Korea; Commander, 362nd Signal Company, Seoul, South Korea; U.S. Army Europe deputy chief of staff of operations and plans; executive officer, 8th Signal Battalion, 8th Infantry Division, Bad Kreuznach, Germany; chief of test and evaluation and executive officer for the Command System Integration Agency, Arlington Hall, Va.; theater planner with the Joint Staff.
Awards: Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, Defense Meritorious Service Medal and the Army Meritorious Service Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters.
Quote: Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, "there is a much broader willingness to share information across a joint battlefield.... At the middle-management level, a significant amount of work needs to be done."
NEXT STORY: GAO to study foreign IT outsourcing