The Other Information War
FusionNet Harnesses Networking and Collaboration Techno logies to Win
Hearts and Minds
by Lane F. Cooper
Military experts have often said "An army marches on its stomach" to emphasize the
importance of logistics in a theater of operation. While the saying remains true, a
CC Intelligent Solutions new aphorism is evolving that goes something like this: "Bullets kill the enemy, but
(CCIS), founded in 2001,
is a premium provider of information wins the peace."
IT solutions for clients in
the defense, intelligence,
homeland security, civil
government, and This notion reflects the new realities warfighters more effective collaboration and information
commercial sectors. face today as they deal with extended and sharing throughout the military.
Headquartered in rotating tours of duty in which the business of
Raleigh, North Carolina, Designed and developed by Raleigh, North
maintaining good local relationships and
CCIS has 75 employees. Carolina–based CC Intelligent Solutions, a
building solid institutions is every bit as
It also has in the Microsoft® Gold Certified Partner, FusionNet is
important as ensuring the security of troops and
Washington, D.C. area, a distributed system that disseminates “ground
allies. The non-combat aspect of the mission
at Ft. Bragg, North truth” intelligence and unit management
highlights the importance of comprehensive
Carolina, and a global information throughout the battlespace. The
information management in the "battlespace" as
presence in multiple solution is built with Microsoft.NET software,
a critical part of a winning strategy.
operational military SharePoint® Products and Technologies, and
That is what makes the FusionNet initiative SQL Server™. It also represents one of the first
being deployed by the U.S. Army's 82nd military deployments of Microsoft Office Forms
Airborne units in Iraq and Afghanistan so Server 2007, which helps military teams
interesting. FusionNet is associated with the centrally publish and manage electronic forms.
Horizontal Fusion program This allows team members in the field to access
(http://horizontalfusion.dtic.mil), which was forms and complete them using a Web browser.
established after the 9/11 attacks to encourage Because forms based on InfoPath Forms
Services support industry-standard XML, promises were made during that
the information collected in these forms meeting," explains Moye. "If, for instance,
can then be reused among military units we promised that the next time a unit
and across operational processes rolls through they will dig a well, it is
important for the next team that comes
What makes the FusionNet system
through to dig that well."
different from most command, control,
communications, computers, and Prior to FusionNet, there was no
intelligence (called “C4I”) initiatives is that systematic and automated
it extends beyond tactical combat and enterprisewide process for keeping track
combat support operations to provide unit of all these notes and commitments. Unit
commanders with a comprehensive clerks traditionally maintained much of
"dashboard" of information that also this information on homegrown
features spot reports and analysis on databases and spreadsheets. The
local political, economic, and social information was not automatically
issues that may affect the unit's mission. connected or integrated in any
meaningful way to the C4I systems that
"In Afghanistan, for instance, the army
set strategic priorities and issue marching
has a pretty drastic need for a
orders. This contributed to confusion,
management system that tracks the
missed expectations and often
status of provincial reconstruction
undermined goodwill efforts with local
teams," explains David Moye, Chief
Technology Officer with CC Intelligent
Solutions. "This includes civil affairs "FusionNet augments [more traditional
operations, which entails managing visits C4I systems] and replaces the
from foreign leaders or other high-ranking homegrown solutions to create a
officials who come to meet with village cohesive system that works together so
officials, as well as tasks like … providing that there is a current and complete
meals for people." perspective on what is happening in the
battlespace," says Moye.
FusionNet also makes it possible for the
U.S. military to live up to commitments it The ability to quickly create forms that
makes to local leaders, even as new capture new types of information in ways
units and personnel rotate in to manage that can be quickly categorized, viewed,
a territory over extended periods. accessed, and managed by other
decision makers throughout the chain of
"Often a unit will pass through a village
command helps make the
and meet with the local leaders to
accomplishment of a complex array of
determine regional needs. It is important missions a more efficient process.
to have an easy-to-use and accessible
record of what was discussed and what
Learn more about CC Besides keeping track of long-term develop new data forms and get them
Intelligent Solutions at: trends, FusionNet accelerates the distributed to all systems.
www.ccis-inc.com process of entering and updating
"It used to take us a couple of weeks to
relevant databases throughout the
develop a novel form and get it tested
command. This is no easy
and deployed, and now it only takes
accomplishment when you consider the
about a day to get that form to the users
conditions under which local-area and
who so desperately need it," Moye says.
wide-area data networks must operate in
low-intensity to mid-intensity conflict This contributes greatly to both tactical
zones. Between the difficult terrain and and strategic intelligence insights. For
periodically hostile situations in which instance, a commander that is planning a
information must be gathered and patrol or organizing a convoy now has
maintained, it is typical for units in the access to much more current information.
field to experience high rates of packet Moreover, the comprehensive nature of
loss and network delays that interrupt the information available via the
data transmissions or that corrupt the SharePoint portals offers a broader
integrity of data. context against which to determine the
risks of a mission.
FusionNet uses technology that takes
advantage of whatever connectivity is The result: FusionNet offers a common
available at any given point in time to infrastructure used to manage day-to-day
update, as quickly as possible, operations better than before. "In
SharePoint® sites and SQL Server general, the units in the field are able to
databases that are in use by other units accomplish more of their mission. They
and/or strategic planners. now have access to all of the pieces they
need to see in order to engage in good
"Speed is important in all aspects of
unit management. They are in a position
warfare. FusionNet has accelerated the
to ensure unit readiness by tracking
ability to keep all systems up to date
training records of troops, access
through automation and standardization.
intelligence reports, and better
With applications where it used to take a
understand local developments on a
couple of weeks for a manual update of a
single system," says Moye.
data form to all systems, updates now
occur automatically in a day. This allows
military units to be a lot more responsive
and a lot more likely to make better
decisions about what needs to be done,"
It also takes a lot less time now to
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