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CHIPS Articles: Interview with Lt. Gen. Susan S. Lawrence

Interview with Lt. Gen. Susan S. Lawrence
U.S. Army Chief Information Officer/G-6
By CHIPS Magazine - April-June 2011
Lt. Gen. Susan S. Lawrence was assigned as Chief Information Officer/G-6, for the Office of the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff of the Army, Washington, D.C., March 3, 2011. Lawrence most recently served as Commanding General, U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command /9th Signal Command (Army), Fort Huachuca, Ariz.

Lawrence has served as the Commanding General, 5th Signal Command and the United States Army Europe and Seventh Army (USAREUR) Chief Information Officer/Assistant Chief of Staff, G-6 (CIO/G-6). Lawrence's distinguished Army career spans 38 years. She commanded the 7th Signal Brigade, 5th Signal Command, prior to serving as Chief of Staff and Vice Director, J-6, Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. She also served as the Director, Command and Control, Communications and Computer Systems, J-6, United States Central Command.

CHIPS spoke with Lt. Gen. Lawrence Feb. 17, 2011, after she delivered remarks to a Women in Defense group in Virginia Beach, Va.

CHIPS: As the commander of the Network Enterprise Technology Command/9th Signal Command (Army) you had the enormous responsibility for operating and defending the Army's information network. The last time you talked with CHIPS in 2009, we talked about the Global Network Enterprise Construct strategy to organize network assets. Can you provide an update?

Lawrence: We are starting to move the football down the field, and we are getting ready to score. If you remember when we talked about the Global Network Enterprise Construct (GNEC), we talked about its three legs. The first leg is the transport, and we are getting ready to put in our fifth regional hub node at the end of this year. Then, any task force will be able to connect globally by reaching any two of our regional hub nodes.

The second leg includes the data and the data strategy. This is part of the Department of Defense's efficiencies — to look at how many data centers we have and consolidate. We are not just doing this in the Army; we are doing it across the entire Department of Defense. The Army is partnering with DISA (Defense Information Systems Agency), the other services, and with industry in some cases, on where to put our data, whether it is in a data center or a 'cloud' virtually, and how to make the data available through the global enterprise network.

The last leg is how we command and control the network, and that is the NETOPS or network operations. We are starting our first big step: single identity and enterprise e-mail. It is a Department of Defense solution, and we are partnering with the other services. We are starting by migrating the Army to an enterprise e-mail. Then very quickly, we will bring in TRANSCOM (U.S. Transportation Command), EUCOM (U.S. European Command) and AFRICOM (U.S. Africa Command), three of our combatant commands. We are well on our way to delivering the network enterprise.

CHIPS: There has been discussion that already the cyber realm is beginning to be bogged down by layers of bureaucracy and complexity and needs to be incorporated into kinetic warfare. Has the Army realigned cyber as a key warfighting domain as the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps have done?

Lawrence: There was speculation out there about what’s the Army going to do as far as aligning its cyber assets. All along we have been committed to the cyber mission and recognized cyber is a new warfighting domain. We believed that cyber should not be assigned to a current command but a separate command that we stood up in 2010. Our cyber forces are now under that single command, U.S. Army Cyber Command, which is an Army service component command. The commander is Lt. Gen. Rhett A. Hernandez.

Army Cyber Command includes forces from my previous command, NETCOM, and intelligence assets from INSCOM (U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command) and the Information Operations Command. Army cyber operations now have synergy; we can build, operate, maintain, defend, attack and exploit from a single command.

CHIPS: What is the significance of the Brigade Modernization Command?

Lawrence: We are really excited about the Brigade Modernization Command at Fort Bliss, Texas, which serves as the Army center for network integration. Here, an operational Brigade Combat Team tests and certifies new network technologies and capabilities prior to fielding to operational units. This eliminates the integration burden on deployed units, and provides the most current technology by leveraging commercial industry's developments.

There we are testing anything that can impact the network, whether it is electronic warfare or spectrum. The goal is putting capability in the Soldier's hands as quickly as we can.

CHIPS: The Navy froze its purchase of servers, and halted the creation of new data centers as a step toward reducing its IT infrastructure to save energy, real estate and manpower. The move to reduce data centers is also part of the Federal CIO's push for wider adoption of cloud computing to gain efficiencies and save money. Is the Army moving in this direction?

Lawrence: Before he retired, Army CIO/G-6 Lt. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sorenson signed a moratorium that the Army could no longer procure data center-type equipment until we decided where our final data center sites will be and how we will start moving them. The Base Realignment and Closure activity, or BRAC, has helped serve as a forcing function. Seventeen of our data centers will be closed just from the BRAC movement, and then we are working another 11 outside of the BRAC as well. Under BRAC, the Army is moving all four-star commands and eight smaller commands.

This year we are going to be executing many other efficiencies. For the most part, they are budgeted in the Program Objective Memorandum for fiscal years 12 to 15.

CHIPS: The Army is expected to cut 27,000 Soldiers, but there is still a need to sustain forces in the field, and also a competing requirement to acquire new equipment and replace worn out and damaged hardware. How do these challenges affect IT planning?

Lawrence: We are going to draw down our forces, and we are going to draw down our budget, as we go through this. The Chief of Staff of the Army is asking his leaders to do a cost-based analysis so we get the most bang for our buck. As we invest the IT dollar, we have to make sure we are investing in the right priorities.

The Network Enterprise Transformation will stay aligned with the operational cadence of our Army and where we need to be at any given time. We will stay focused on that.

We are going to make sure that the network can support all four phases of ARFORGEN (Army Force Generation) — reset, train, available, deploy — as warfighters transition through them. Every Soldier is in one of these phases: (1) reset because they just came back from Iraq or Afghanistan or Bosnia, or anywhere else we have asked them to serve; (2) full training; [and] (3) availability to deploy for any one of the Army's missions.

CHIPS: What has been the most rewarding experience in your Army career?

Lawrence: I am extremely blessed to have had such a wonderful career. I have to say that my best assignments are when I had the opportunity to command our Soldiers and our civilians, the great men and women who serve in our armed forces. That's the most rewarding because you're part of a family, and you're watching these young men and women grow, and they just do so much for our nation. That's where I am closest to them. So whenever I am in command is the most rewarding for me.

For more information go to the Army CIO's website at http://ciog6.army.mil. The Army CIO strategic communications office can be reached at CIOG6StratComm@conus.mil.

Lt. Gen. Susan S. Lawrence
Lt. Gen. Susan S. Lawrence

Maj. Gen. Susan S. Lawrence, outgoing commander, receives the Distinguished Service Medal from Lt. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sorenson, Army Chief Information Officer/G-6. Lawrence received the award during the Network Enterprise Technology Command/9th Signal Command (Army) change of command ceremony Sept. 22, 2010. Photo by Eric Hortin (NETCOM/9th SC (A)).
Maj. Gen. Susan S. Lawrence, outgoing commander, receives the Distinguished Service Medal from Lt. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sorenson, Army Chief Information Officer/G-6. Lawrence received the award during the Network Enterprise Technology Command/9th Signal Command (Army) change of command ceremony Sept. 22, 2010. Photo by Eric Hortin (NETCOM/9th SC (A)).

(Feb. 17, 2011) VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Susan Lawrence speaking at a Women in Defense luncheon. Lawrence was assigned as Chief Information Officer/G-6, for the Office of the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff of the Army, Washington, D.C., March 3, 2011. Lawrence was promoted to lieutenant general March 25. Photo by Holly Quick/SPAWARSYSCEN Atlantic.
(Feb. 17, 2011) VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Susan Lawrence speaking at a Women in Defense luncheon. Lawrence was assigned as Chief Information Officer/G-6, for the Office of the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff of the Army, Washington, D.C., March 3, 2011. Lawrence was promoted to lieutenant general March 25. Photo by Holly Quick/SPAWARSYSCEN Atlantic.
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