Q & A with Rear Adm. Kendall L. Card
Director, Command Control Systems
Rear Admiral Kendall L. Card assumed the position of Director, Command Control
Systems, North American Aerospace Defense Command/U.S. Northern Command (NORAD/
USNORTHCOM) J6, July 28, 2006.
CHIPS first had the pleasure of talking with Admiral Card at MILCOM 2007 in late October.
Rear Adm. Kendall L. Card
MILCOM, sponsored by AFCEA International, is a forum for bringing together military, government, industry and academia
professionals to share knowledge and build relationships in the fields of communications, information technology, intelligence
and global security.
Rear Adm. Card was a member of a top–notch panel of military leaders that addressed the policy, technical, procedural and
operational issues standing in the way of joint and coalition interoperability. As the NORAD/USNORTHCOM J6, a naval aviator
and former commanding officer of the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), Admiral Card has a keen understanding of what true
interoperability can do for the joint force. So I asked him to discuss his mission with CHIPS Nov. 1, 2007.
CHIPS: Can you talk about your job at USNORTHCOM? agency groups. We have a Canadian political adviser as well as a
U.S. political adviser, and we have a liaison officer from Mexico.
Rear Adm. Card: Essentially, I handle anything that has elec- There are about 1,500 folks in the headquarters that work
tronic movement or is C4 (command, control, communications, together every day to ensure that we have the connectivity
computers) equipment in and outside the headquarters, and through the entire interagency group as well as through the
I coordinate for the AOR (area of responsibility). The NORAD, a Canada and Mexico interagency groups. They typically funnel
bi-national command between the U.S. and Canada, mission is their efforts, like we funnel our interagency efforts, through the
three-fold: aerospace warning against air threats; aerospace de- Department of Homeland Security and folks at Emergency Pre-
fense of the AOR; and maritime warning. USNORTHCOM has the paredness Canada.
missions of homeland defense as well as defense support of civil
authorities (DSCA) in times of crisis. CHIPS: There was a lot of discussion by the panel about the differ-
I have about 300 people in the J6 (C4 systems) that work with ent authorities under Title 10, Title 32 and Title 14. Are the roles for
me to ensure we have the connectivity for the leaders and staff. each of these agencies clearly defined so that when you are in the
Homeland defense requires a command and control mission, disaster recovery mode the various agencies are synchronized to do
but the DSCA mission requires a communication and coordina- what they need to do?
Rear Adm. Card: Yes, we are synchronized, but there is still room
CHIPS: Do you work with agencies outside of NORTHCOM? for improvement. I think improvements have been made, I would
say 100-fold. When Hurricane Ernesto moved up the East Coast,
Rear Adm. Card: Yes, we do. If we are talking about a terrorist the response from DHS, Federal Emergency Management Agen-
threat, we work with many in the intelligence field in the United cy (FEMA) and all the organizations in DHS was tremendous.
States. During Katrina, the National Communications System in
In addition to that, we also have what we call an interagency Emergency Support Function 2, (ESF 2), was activated. The
need to share. We have 60 different organizations represented coordination between the National Communications System,
by liaison personnel here at headquarters — everyone from the NORAD and NORTHCOM for spectrum and coordination is usu-
Red Cross — to the Department of Homeland Security and Na- ally proprietary, but the commercial sector was happy to share
tional Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). information about their infrastructure in New Orleans, Louisiana
NORAD is a bi-national command, and we have many Cana- and Mississippi.
dians here as part of the headquarters in addition to the inter- They were happy to share that information in crisis response,
10 CHIPS Dedicated to Sharing Information - Technology - Experience
but our coordination wasn’t what it should have been then. We
have since made improvements and have a National Communi-
cations System liaison officer at headquarters that provides me
with essential and immediate information.
We have moved the communication coordination timeline
from days down to minutes. For instance, the National Guard is
deploying folks all the time, and we are continuously watching
and coordinating with the Joint C4 Coordination Center (JCCC)
in Smyrna, Delaware, to ensure that we know what they know,
and they know what we know.
We also work continuously with FEMA about where their
emergency deployable cell towers are and ours. All of ours are
completely interoperable. In terms of how we would go into New
Orleans today and deploy emergency cell towers to bring tem-
porary communications in that area, we are light-years ahead of
where we were during Katrina. MILCOM – Oct. 31, 2007. Rear Adm. Kendall L. Card, Director, Command Control
In how we would coordinate all our emergency response ve- Systems, North American Aerospace Defense Command/U.S. Northern Com-
hicles, we are light-years ahead of Katrina. We have the ability to mand J6, listens to the remarks of Brig. Gen. David B. Warner, Director, Command
capture full-motion video over an area to get an initial assess- and Control Programs, Defense Information Systems Agency, during a panel dis-
ment of the area (IAA). It involves coordination between the Na- cussion focusing on interoperability. Vice Adm. Nancy E. Brown, Director for C4,
tional Guard, DHS and NORTHCOM to get aircraft over the area the Joint Staff, led the discussion.
and having the communication means to get that information
into the air through our communication pipes to be passed to CHIPS: Is that what you referred to when you talked about a cen-
people who need that information to respond appropriately. trally managed and funded system of systems that is survivable?
Our interagency coordination group also works with the
commercial sector to provide additional assistance. We can Rear Adm. Card: There are some natural points where we are
work with churches and nongovernmental organizations that going to need to bridge large systems together. When I talked
are able to respond to these crises, but it takes a lot of time and about a centrally managed and funded system, I think DoD is as
effort to coordinate. large as we are going to be for a centrally managed and funded
Before Katrina, we didn’t have all the telephone numbers and system. Our mission partners for defense support of civil author-
know all the people. Now people are trained in all these areas ities are mostly on the Internet. It would be difficult to centrally
so that everybody knows where all the emergency operations manage and fund that network.
centers are; there are coordinating groups in all the emergency For DoD services, we can link up DoD services to the Inter-
operations centers. It’s not perfect. It’s not all automatic through net from a centrally managed and funded facility. The Internet
portals like I would like it to be, but it is light-years ahead of is global and that is where our DSCA mission partners are. The
where we were. Internet is essential to reach to those nongovernmental organi-
zations, state and local as well.
CHIPS: Do you think there should be a federal mandate on data tag- In terms of SIPRNET and NIPRNET, which are DoD-centric
ging? I have heard military leadership say that one of the problems systems, it makes sense to centrally manage and fund those to
with communications between agencies is that local first respond- conduct business on a day-to-day basis and focus on interoper-
ers use different terms than DoD would use, which causes confusion ability with all of my mission partners.
in information sharing.
CHIPS: Sometimes it seems as if DoD and DHS jump from good idea
Rear Adm. Card: I don’t know how that would translate to the to good idea without following through.
state level, but from the federal level, having standard databases;
standard ways of tagging data; and standard ways of registering Rear Adm. Card: If you look at what the panel said as a whole,
and authorizing users across a net-centric system would make you would conclude that there are a lot of pieces. You have to
our communications efforts much more efficient and effective. remember that the half-life of IT is one year. Everything changes
Once the federal standards are set, if there is a way that folks rapidly in the cyber domain in particular and in IT systems, so we
in local municipalities could be incentivized through dollars or need to remain flexible.
other means to go to those standardized databases and sys- It is very difficult not to want what is available today, and at the
tems, it would make a tremendous difference. same time, you have to have a program of record and some sort
But we still would have to worry about how that would be of a road ahead. I am talking about a five, 10 and 15-year plans. I
implemented at the state and local level since those are the have a five-year plan and a 10-year plan for headquarters.
folks that we support, and those are the folks that are the true It makes sense to me that while we never have perfect align-
heroes. ment with everyone that we continually seek things that con-
We are trying to make sure that they get every piece of equip- verge and become congruent as we move along. It may be
ment that they need and are Johnny-on-the-spot when they tempting to take different roads and different paths because
need it. That is the most important piece of the link. people may see a large breakthrough in one area that helps
CHIPS January – March 2008 11
their particular niche happen more efficiently and more Rear Adm. Card: As I mentioned, we have a building that doesn’t
quickly. support the architecture doubling every five years. That’s a lot of
That leads to proprietary systems. We have to remember that servers. Blade technology [server solutions] has helped us out a
we are all a part of a bigger whole, and we have to look for con- lot there and virtualization is going to help.
gruency in the final answer so that we don’t have to build so ACC (Air Combat Command) is moving toward a centrally
many bridges. managed and funded facility which is important because the Air
It is hard for me to describe what I think we have out there. If Force is our sponsor service here at NORAD and NORTHCOM.
you have 1,000 stovepipes and your mission partner, Homeland My folks have developed a plan for how we are going to be-
Security, has 25 of those, you have to build 25 bridges to those come more centrally managed and funded, how we are going
systems. Then, for defense support of civil authorities, maybe to ensure that we are dual-redundant and have that automatic
you have another 100 bridges that you have to build to all the switchover to the system in the areas that we need to.
individual systems, instead of building two bridges to some ge- We have that in our critical systems already, but some would
neric or agreed upon base of systems. say that SIPRNET is critical, and some would say that NIPRNET is
We are working toward that congruency; it is just very slow critical. We have different levels to describe how critical it is.
to happen. A 10-year plan, from a 40,000-foot view, is to keep We have a 10-year plan that makes us more redundant, that
people moving toward this center Global Information Grid/ focuses on Web-enabled services, that focuses on a centrally
Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System managed information assurance plan and includes less firewalls
(GIG/CENTRIXS) solution. which decreases our vulnerability, makes us more maintainable
We are making progress, and I think all the combatant com- and reduces our risk.
manders said that. But what they said was that it is not happen- We are working hard with other partners from policy all the
ing fast enough. We are dissatisfied with the timeline because way down to systems on how to build better multinational in-
we see this fast-moving technology and all the things that are formation sharing. We are working hard with U.S. Joint Forces
available. It’s hard to be patient though and wait for those things Command (JFCOM) for cross-domain execution and working on
to happen. many other things like VPN, virtual private network, and how
If we don’t show some patience then we are all just reaching we would use that in event of a pandemic influenza event. We
out for all the different systems, and we are not building toward would have a lot of folks working from home and not here in the
a convergent road. It is like building 100 different phone sys- headquarters where contamination could spread.
tems in the United States. It took us years to tie all those pieces The 10-year plan has many different focuses. It makes us more
together. convergent with all our partners. I believe we are going to reach
We are trying to tie all the pieces together, and we don’t need convergence through programs of record.
it to take years and years. We need to do it much more quickly
than we are doing. CHIPS: Do you and the J6 have a role in the new maritime strategy,
which includes: forward presence, deterrence, sea control, power
CHIPS: Can you talk about your 10-year plan and give some exam- projection, maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster
ples of what your goals are? response?
“It’s easy to be passionate about the mission of NORAD and USNORTHCOM …”
U.S. Northern Command anticipates and conducts homeland defense and civil support operations within the assigned
area of responsibility to defend, protect and secure the United States and its interests. USNORTHCOM consolidates under
a single unified command existing missions that were previously executed by other DoD organizations. This provides
unity of command, which is critical to mission accomplishment.
The commander of USNORTHCOM also commands the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), a
bi-national command responsible for aerospace warning and aerospace control for Canada, Alaska and the continental
USNORTHCOM plans, organizes and executes homeland defense and civil support missions, but has few permanently
assigned forces. The command is assigned forces whenever necessary to execute missions, as ordered by the president.
12 CHIPS Dedicated to Sharing Information - Technology - Experience
Rear Adm. Card: Yes, we do. As the maritime strategy continues to meet our requirements. JFCOM is working on a cross-domain
to evolve, we will ensure that we have the connectivity to make solution that meets all of the COCOMs’ requirements, a singular
that happen. Whether that’s assessor phone calls or systems program of record that meets all of the combatant commander
that collate or manage information, data and knowledge, we are requirements around the globe.
definitely part of it. JFCOM takes our requirements and works with vendors and
Maritime domain awareness is not in its infancy but coor- technology to come up with a solution. As our requirements
dination of a global picture is. I am sure you have heard Adm. continue to evolve, we continue to update those requirements
Mullen, when he was CNO, talk about the 1000-ship navy. From as a system.
that, we are looking for a global maritime picture, and the J6 will As they develop the system and we use it, we can find im-
support that with systems. Whether it is tracking ships, managing provements for it. As the mission evolves, we can have them spi-
cargo data or intelligence information that may be tracking per- ral that program of record to produce new things that we need.
sons around the world, all of those data systems have to flow An important part of the acquisition process is testing these sys-
somewhere, be managed and the information correlated to give tems in exercises to see if we are meeting all the requirements of
us the best global picture. that mission and those COCOMs.
That’s a common operational picture with a lot of amplifying We are developing an information management plan with
data on each one of those units that are moving, where they DHS and with the National Guard Bureau to make sure that
came from and maybe where they were, and where the cargo we have a common operational picture, a common situational
onboard was picked up. awareness display and a common chat tool. Even though we
If you want to fuse that information to give you the best pic- have many user-defined operational pictures and many other
ture and to develop threat strings, J6 will play an important part displays in our headquarters, we still have one central display
in that. Most of those networks and most of those systems al- that displays the critical information for all of us, and it is in all of
ready exist — it is fusing them together that’s the tough part of our operations centers.
the picture today. We have three tools, but one sheet of music that we all agree
upon that is the situation as we know it. We all have the op-
CHIPS: Do you work with the other J6s across the services and the portunity to update the information plan through whoever is
COCOMs; do you get requirements from them? responsible for that piece of the architecture, and we do that
electronically as well as through phone calls and other means.
Rear Adm. Card: No ma’am, I don’t take their requirements. Typi- That information plan gives us a central knowledge base from
cally, we work through the services and through JFCOM to fuse which our decisions can be made.
our requirements through the Joint Staff and the services so that For instance, the Commander of NORAD and USNORTHCOM,
they can develop systems and programs of record that meet all Gen. Gene Renuart, can be in our operations center, DHS Secre-
of the COCOM requirements for maritime defense. tary Chertoff can be in his operations center and the Chief of the
We state our requirements to JFCOM along with the other National Guard Bureau, Lt. Gen. Blum, can be in his operations
combatant commanders and JFCOM formulates those systems center, and they are all seeing the same data. If they pick up the
Gen. Gene Renuart,
commander of NORAD
and NORTHCOM, discusses
the progress of several
during the Aug. 20, 2007,
briefing at NORAD
August, the two military
commands supported the
space shuttle launch and
landing, recovery efforts at the collapsed bridge in Minneapolis, rescue operations at Utah’s
Crandall Canyon mine, Russian bomber monitoring and Hurricane Dean response preparations.
Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Gail Braymen.
U.S. Navy Divers from Mobile Dive and Salvage Unit 2 are deploying to Minneapolis, Minn., to
assist in response to the collapse of the I-35 bridge. When requested by the Primary Agency and
approved by the Secretary of Defense, DoD assets may be used in support of civil authorities
managing disaster recovery efforts. USNORTHCOM is responsible for coordination of all active-
duty military forces serving in Defense Support of Civil Authority roles. Photo by Petty Officer 3rd
Class Jack Georges.
“We have made great advances, but as an operator, I think
If you look at the air piece, we monitor all the FAA (Federal
about warriors in the field in Iraq or Afghanistan. If I can provide Aviation Administration) traffic in the U.S., all the NAV Canada
air traffic and anything that’s coming within our area of respon-
them with situational awareness through a display, or I can help sibility, tracking not individual people but individual instances
or circumstances that might be happening on those aircraft.
their captain or second lieutenant make better decisions about If you look at the land domain, we monitor any power panel
that blows up in a subway system because it is faulty, any truck
how to deploy their forces and save lives, then I need to get that tips over with hazardous materials and any white pow-
der incidents in any city or state. If it might have an impact on
that technology to the warfighter at the edge of the spear as the average American or Canadian, we are monitoring it. In 99
percent of the cases, we don’t become involved because local
quickly as I can.” and state agencies or law enforcement officials can take care of
– Rear Adm. Kendall L. Card, NORAD-USNORTHCOM J6 those problems.
We are there to ensure that if they need some capability that
phone, they can talk off the same display and coordinate with they don’t have we can provide it. We act in cooperation with
each other. 150 operation centers throughout our area of responsibility
It is more important that we coordinate at the lower levels every minute of every day and track all the things that they are
because that’s where the small, efficient decisions that save in- tracking.
dividual lives happen. But at the same time, you want an overall It is hard to convey that message to all the folks in our AOR,
picture so the strategic decision makers can move together in Americans and Canadians, that there are many hard working
the same direction. people tracking all these things so they are safe.
CHIPS: Any other thoughts on interoperability? CHIPS: It is hard to convey because the notion of it is just immense.
Rear Adm. Card: We have come a tremendously long way. We Rear Adm. Card: You have to do it and still protect individual
have made great advances, but as an operator, I think about rights of all those citizens.
warriors in the field in Iraq or Afghanistan. If I can provide them
with situational awareness through a display, or I can help their CHIPS: I entered your name on Google and saw that your home-
captain or second lieutenant make better decisions about how town of Fort Stockton, Texas, is very proud of you — and rightfully
to deploy their forces and save lives, then I need to get that tech- so!
nology to the warfighter at the edge of the spear as quickly as
I can. Rear Adm. Card: It’s very humbling to go back home. People are
There is some frustration in that we want to get that informa- appreciative of what our services do for them. Having the op-
tion to him or her as quickly as possible to help save lives. In Gen. portunity to go through the ranks and the good fortune to be at
Renuart’s area of responsibility, we think we have made great the right place at the right time a few times in my career, for me,
advances in architecture, full-motion video, interoperability of it is very humbling.
deployable cell towers and our use of ACU-1000s to bridge all They certainly have me on a pedestal much higher than I de-
these communication systems. However, we still know that we serve to be. The whole town goes out of their way to make me
only have minutes in some cases to rescue people off rooftops feel like I am a hero every time I am in town.
or do the things in New Orleans that the Coast Guard and the I try to focus on who the true heroes are in Afghanistan and
Navy did. Iraq because they are the people doing the hard work.
In California with the burning wildfires, we sent C-130s with
massive equipment — every one of those houses is precious — CHIPS: One thing that always impresses me when I talk to military
and everyone inside those houses is precious. We are looking to leadership and service members is their passion — you just know it
save lives and mitigate human suffering through more efficient comes from the heart. You all work so hard and sacrifice so much
and effective communications systems — from the people on and America’s heartland understands that, and that’s why our ser-
the ground — to the local responders who are the true heroes. vice members are heroes.
At NORAD and NORTHCOM, we monitor the nation. When I
talk to folks out on the road, they really don’t understand the Rear Adm. Card: All the folks at NORAD and NORTHCOM feel like
full breadth of what we do. We monitor the nation in all five do- we have the most important mission in the world, protecting
mains: air, land, sea, space and cyber intrusions or problems. the homeland and protecting the people in the homeland. It is
NORAD is monitoring everything in outer space that moves, not hard to be passionate about that mission because they are
anything that might pose an issue for a shuttle or a space sta- all of our neighbors, all of our friends, all of our relatives, and all
tion or might leave the atmosphere and come back down to of the people we love.
hit Earth. They are tracking thousands of pieces that are mov- It is easy to be passionate about the mission.
ing around to see if they pose danger to anyone as they reenter.
That’s the space piece.
We’re looking at the sea piece, at ships, people and cargo For more information about the missions of NORTHCOM and NORAD, go
around the world. to www.northcom.mil.
14 CHIPS Dedicated to Sharing Information - Technology - Experience