Teri Takai, Robert Wheeler, Fred Moorefield, Karl Nebbia

Press Briefing on Release of DoD Electromagnetic Spectrum Strategy

delivered 20 February 2014, Arlington, VA


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STAFF: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for coming today to cover the release of the department's Electromagnetic Spectrum Strategy.

I want to introduce the department's chief information officer, Teri Takai, Major General Robert Wheeler, the DOD deputy CIO for command, control, communications, computers and information infrastructure, and Fred Moorefield, the DOD CIO director of spectrum policy and programs. For today's briefing, Ms. Takai will make a brief opening statement on the importance of this strategy before we open it up for questions. For the on-record briefing, I will call on you for individual questions and a follow-up question. Before we get started, I'd like to introduce Mr. Karl Nebbia. He's with the Office of Spectrum Management, associate administrator at the National Telecommunications Information Administration. He's going to make some brief remarks about the federal government's spectrum efforts. With that, Mr. Nebbia.

KARL NEBBIA: Thank you for inviting me to come today. NTIA is the president's principle adviser on telecommunications policy. We're also responsible for managing federal government use of a spectrum. So that's why we have a great interest in what DOD is doing here today. We wanted to start off by saying that we applaud DOD's efforts to look to the future. And we look forward to continued collaboration with DOD and other federal agencies as we explore new and innovative approaches to meet the growing demand for spectrum. Through its plan, DOD recognizes that meeting its own requirements amidst the growing commercial and consumer demand will require cooperation, compatibility and flexibility. Indeed, a key focus of its plan is to establish goals and objectives to develop systems that are efficient, flexible and adaptable in their use of the spectrum. Recognizing the important role that spectrum plays in continued innovation, job creation economic growth, the administration is moving aggressively to enhance spectrum efficiency and enable access to more spectrum for consumer services and applications. The longer term spectrum needs for government agencies and industry alike can only be met through spectrum sharing. And we are looking for a top-to-bottom commitment from all stakeholders to make it happen. We greatly appreciate DOD's commitment to that end. Thank you.

STAFF: Thank you, Mr. Nebbia. Ms. Takai?

TAKAI: Well, thank you very much, Karl, for being here today and for your opening remarks. We're very excited today to be able to roll out an effort that is something that the department's been working on for quite a while. And many of you may actually have had the opportunity to hear about this effort over its evolution, but we're just very, very excited to be able to announce it today. I'd like to start out just with a reference back to the real -- the importance of this strategy for DOD. Karl has laid out, I think, the importance of our collaboration and our contribution to the national policy. But it's also important for us to focus today on DOD and our ever-widening and expanding use of spectrum and, therefore, the importance of having a long-term strategy that really allows us to both fit with DOD's needs and ensure that we are meeting our own needs, but also fitting with national strategy.

The Department of Defense air, land, maritime, space and cyberspace operations are fundamentally and increasingly dependent on electromagnetic spectrum. All of our joint functions, our ability to fight, our movement, and maneuver, fires, command and control, intelligence, protection, and sustainment are accomplished with systems that depend on spectrum. The safety and security of U.S. citizens, the effectiveness of our U.S. combat forces, and the lives of our U.S. military members, our allies, and non-combatants depend on spectrum access more than ever. Today we unveil our electromagnetic spectrum strategy, which first and foremost addresses the ever-increasing need for spectrum to achieve national security goals.

I'd like to pause here for a minute. Clearly those of us on the stage are from the DOD CIO office, but I think it is important for us to note that this strategy does not constitute a DOD CIO strategy. It really constitutes a strategy that had contribution from all of military services, our departments, and our agencies, and they will be actively involved as we talk about our implementation and rollout plan. Equally, it's important as our national security goals, the strategy also addresses short and long term spectrum challenges as it relates to the growing U.S. demand for wireless broadband services. To achieve the balance required between national security and economic growth, DOD will continue to work in close collaboration with federal regulatory agencies and policymakers, including NTIA, the Federal Communications Commission, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, as well as with commercial industry. Together, we must identify ways to make spectrum more available for commercial use, and find technologies that enhance spectrum sharing, all the while improving how DOD accesses spectrum where and when needed to ensure our mission's success.

The DOD electronic spectrum strategy provides guidance for current and long-term initiatives, to ensure our military has spectrum access to meet the objectives in the national military strategy and the primary missions listed in the president's strategic guidance. Specifically, the strategy identifies what must be accomplished by goals and objectives to achieve this vision. While it emphasizes advancing promising technologies that are spectrum-dependent, it also addresses improving the integration of DOD spectrum activities, sharpening our ability to assess and respond to spectrum regulatory changes, and identifying key policy and governance issues.

I'd like to just walk through the three goals of the strategy and then open it up to your questions.

Goal number one is really to continue to improve technology in DOD spectrum-dependent systems. To meet the warfighter's growing demand for spectrum access, the strategy's first goal provides a blueprint for improving the technology in our spectrum-dependent systems. By becoming more efficient, flexible and adaptable, our systems will be better prepared to meet the demands of modern warfighting. This creates opportunities to utilize spectrum that is less congested, adopt commercial services and technologies where suitable, and implement spectrum-sharing technologies where feasible. Goal number two - to increase the agility of DOD's spectrum operations. Simply put, DOD spectrum-based operations must be able to move with and adjust to the spectrum environment as it changes. For DOD, operational agility begins with the acquisition process. As a result, in the early planning stages for a new system, spectrum management considerations, both domestically and internationally, must be taken into account.

Spectrum managers must have the capability to accurately predict and assess the spectral environment including on a near real-time basis and identify potential sources of harmful interference. And finally, goal number three. We believe it's critical that we enhance our participation in the policy discussions up front. Spectrum regulatory and policy changes greatly impact DOD spectrum access, both domestically and internationally. Effective engagement in the development of policies helps us to better influence new regulatory developments in a way that enhances sharing opportunities and increases the agility of our spectrum use. To this end, the strategy's third goal recognizes the need to be proactive to assess, contribute and adjust to proposed policy changes. So what's the way ahead? The release of this strategy is really the first step. The strategy and the associated road map and action plan will be updated periodically to reflect our lessons learned, clearly the spectrum environment, and our changing needs. This effort really kicks off a multi-year effort that will require alignment of our existing processes and spur decisions over the future of key systems and capabilities. Cost will be incorporate across the enterprise in many activities that the strategy impacts over the next few years. Over the next six months, we will be developing an implementation plan that includes a governance structure, a road map and action plan that will chart our way to meeting the strategy's vision.

These documents will lay out the next steps, including time lines and detailed actions to move forward with the strategic goals and objectives. The spectrum future laid out in the strategy is bold. The process will be intense, and by its very nature, iterative. Because DOD systems are designed to operate for decades, development and installation of spectrum-efficient technology for military use takes years. And, therefore, the strategies and the planning necessary to meet our goals really require us to take that up-front look and ensure that we are directing our activities over the longer term. As a result, the strategy's success will be measured over the long term as systems are replaced with more militarily effective and efficient technology. But it is clear that our continued use and reliance on spectrum requires no less. With this strategy, DOD must be a responsible steward of the spectrum essential to our operations, while working collaboratively to meet the growing demands of the citizens that we serve.

QUESTION: Can you give us a sense then of how much of this spectrum is going to be shared with industry? I mean, how far -- and if you don't know right now, I mean, how far are you away from knowing that, all right? How much might be freed up for -- or freed up from -- from the DOD's use of spectrum?

TAKAI: Well, we're working right now on -- the reason why we're not giving you a specific number is that we are working right now very closely with NTIA on meeting their goal and the president's goal of making 500 megahertz available. And so, our actions right now are directed in that way. And there are a number of studies going on. And what I can do is certainly to speak about one of those, and let Fred give you some perspective on one of the most recent areas that we've been working on -- industry -- and we think we've had a pretty successful result.

STAFF: Please.

MOOREFIELD: So, for an example, you're all familiar with our 1755 to 1850 proposal where DOD put forward our DOD alternative plan where we're proposing to share and we have actually a combination of sharing, relocation and proposal. So that -- that proposal, we're going to share part of that band with the commercial industry folks. So that's our proposal. Thank you.

QUESTION: So to follow up on that, you're announcing an intent to share bandwidth. You're not announcing that cell phone mobile carriers and all these industries that might be interested now have bandwidth that's available to them that you're freeing up.

TAKAI: Yeah, it's -- I think we do need to be careful about the words that you were using in terms of intent versus, you know, whether we're announcing that. What we do is, again, to provide our information through NTIA working with FCC. FCC is ultimately responsible for making the end announcement in -- way ahead, in terms of working with industry around that proposal. So I think, you know, fine line, but, you know, we want to be clear that, you know, for that 25 megahertz, that's an effort that we're working with NTIA and FCC will then make the final announcement on that.

QUESTION: Okay, Michael McCarthy, Defense Daily. Do you have a figure in terms of what DOD plans to invest this year or in the years ahead in terms of, you know, enlarging the EMS, how would you do this?

TAKAI: Well, what -- I think what we can do -- and General Wheeler can speak to this -- is give you some idea on particularly as it relates to transition planning. The challenge that we have in terms of giving you investment on specifically spectrum is that there actually is not just a pure spectrum investment. Clearly, the strategy is to lay out how we are influencing all of our programs that are dependent on spectrum, to ensure that we are more flexible, as opposed to simply looking at spectrum alone and talking about how we're changing that. So perhaps the best way to answer that question would be to focus on some of our transition planning effort.

WHEELER: To go a little further on that, and to try to address what she was just talking about, if you look at where we are today in this particular strategy document, the vision, per se, it's an objective here to be more proactive versus reactive. That will be followed up with the implementation plan, which will actually address the questions that you're running right now, that will go down there and build-out the plan and actually build-out with the services the exact milestones that we're going to go down to do that particular part. Because there's obviously positive ones where we're going to save money. There's ones where we're going to have to spend more money. And that will break it out over time as to what the exact thing that we'll have to do from an investment perspective -- if that helps.

QUESTION: Hi. Kristina Wong from The Hill. Thanks for speaking with us. Could you -- Ms. Takai, you mentioned in your opening remarks short- and long-term spectrum challenges as it relates to the growing U.S. demand for wireless broadband services. Can you go over the short- and long-term challenges a little bit more, preferably in layman's terms?

TAKAI: Certainly. I think that it is always difficult when we talk in broad terms. I think the best way to describe that would be for General Wheeler to give you some statistics, number one, on our growing spectrum need. Because I think that sometimes certainly while we're trying to meet commercial need, what gets lost is our growing need for spectrum. And then perhaps General Wheeler could give you a couple of examples of areas that are some short-term requirements as well as long-term.

WHEELER: So to give you some idea of what we're talking about here, it's a balance, obviously, between the commercial needs and the needs of national security, that aspect. If it can give you some ideas of what we're talking about, to put it in laymen's terms, in the 1990s, we used to have 90 MHz of -- of actual bandwidth that was used for approximately 12,000 troops. In today's time frame, we're looking at 305 MHz for 3,500 troops. So you can even see on both the commercial side and the federal side, it's growing. So that's the reason why we're trying to make sure that we're proactive versus reactive, because we realize that if we're going to do this correctly with industry as our partner, and we're collaborating with them, to make sure that we do the sharing piece correctly, compression where necessary, and vacating where necessary so we both have a plan of action going forward to balance the national security needs as well as the needs for the commercial side, to keep us competitive around the world. Does that help?

QUESTION: If that balance isnít struck, what are the risks, what are the challenges?

WHEELER: So, I would argue that so far, and honestly, we've worked very with industry, I think the balance has been struck. I think that we have been able to maintain our operational requirements; where we are today to meet the president's executive order requirements as well as doing the commercial side of it and moving forward. So, it's been a constant dance, if you will, between those things, to make sure that it's correct, but I think we've managed that in this particular time, and that's the reason why it's very important to the implementation plan, because we have to figure out where we're going in the future, to make sure that we have this right, and we'll do that in conjunction with industry.

TAKAI: So one example, if I can just add to what General Wheeler's saying, for instance, we train our pilots in the U.S., and we are very heavily spectrum dependent in order to be able to do that training. If in fact we are in -- in an environment where we have interference in the spectrum that we use, we either have to limit the amount of training or in fact, we can have instances where we'll have interference during the time that that training's taking place. That's kind of just sort of, you know, one of the examples that's particularly been under discussion in the 1750 to 1850 band -- 1755 to 1850 band.

QUESTION: Are some of the newer weapons programs already adapting to what you're talking about, for example, the F-35, or is there going to have to be sort of retroactive steps taken to ensure that new systems are going to be as adaptive and flexible as you're saying they should?

WHEELER: I think that's more -- what you're talking about is basically part of the implementation plan. It's a combination of both. Some of them, what I'd call is software-defined radios are actually built into the systems, which allow you to change frequencies. Other systems have fixed transmit and receives. And those are the ones that we work through. An example that Ms. Takai just talked about was the air combat training system. You know, that was on a fixed frequency that we use in our aircraft. And that was one that we worked hard on with industry as to figuring out how we're going to blend that in the changes that are coming up. And that one makes us have the edge if you will, in a combat environment there for our training aspects. So it'll be a combination of both. And I think we're meeting that with most new systems today. They're much more agile, if you will, in the frequency side and in the electromagnetic spectrum as a whole. But some of the older legacy systems, that's where we have to work through on the implementation plan to see how we want to address those.

QUESTION: So, just to follow up, so on those older programs - older systems, there will have to be an investment in some cases?

WHEELER: In some cases, absolutely. But I'll give you an example where that's not necessarily true, and that's on the satellite side. On the satellite side, where we're doing with some of the older systems that have been up for 30 years, if you will, and that are still out there, it's obviously very difficult to change out a transmitter in orbit. So a bottom line to that particular one is that we'll do some geographic sharing that we've worked out with industry so we do not have to end up replacing that and cause a requirement to the taxpayer. So those are the kind of legacy systems that we won't change out, but very true, in some legacy systems, we will have to make those changes.

QUESTION: Hi [inaudible] from CCTV. I'm no technology expert, but my concern is with the new technology, with the winding of this spectrum, from the new system you just mentioned, is there going to be more cybersecurity problems?

WHEELER: Well, I think that's also part of when you buy weapon systems and do the acquisition piece, when you do the -- and as part of our implementation plan, that you make sure you put in the cyber protections. I don't see any changes in the actual cybersecurity risks. I think that you have to continually change with the threat to protect those particular systems in there. But I don't that's a spectrum -- depended specific threat or risk, if that helps.

QUESTION: Andy Medici, Federal Times. So you guys are talking a lot about adapting new systems and flexibility, but it just seems like this is a future where DOD will just have to make do with less spectrum. Is -- Is that sort of the short answer? And how can you give up spectrum that you might never get back and not having any future and maybe be a burden to the taxpayer? Can you sir, explain the thinking behind that? And -- And if that's true, that's the future for DOD?

TAKAI: Let me answer the question I guess in a couple ways. First of all, we are not certainly making the assumption that DOD will have to make do with less spectrum. In fact, I think as General Wheeler outlined, one of the challenges that we have is our growing need for spectrum and how do we fit our need with the -- the growing need on the commercial industry? Now, there are a number of ways to do that. Certainly it isn't a question of all or nothing. For instance, one of the things that we're looking at and are very interested in is where the commercial sector is going. Because we have opportunity to use commercial devices and actually leverage those technologies for our use. But it also means that we need to be more efficient in the way that we're all using spectrum. So that again with a limited resource we're able to accomplish what our mission needs are as well as being able to satisfy the commercial industry needs as it relates to spectrum. So I wouldn't necessarily think of it and we certainly don't think of it as an either-or, where it's industry or DOD, but more how are we going to collectively work together to actually meet our requirements while in fact satisfying all of the requirements that all of us have for broadband use.

QUESTION: Could you give us a little idea of how you actually go about being more efficient -- going back to the very first question about numbers and how much bandwidth will you have to share in the future, and so on and so forth. Can you give us some kind of -- do you have a goal, like, we're going to be this percentage more efficient? How do you go about doing that? I mean, it's fine to make the general statement, but how do you actually go about being more efficient? And how much are you going to have to be sharing that you don't share now?

TAKAI: Well, let me answer the question in -- in two ways, because you've asked two -- in some senses -- different questions. And I think I'll, you know, come back to General Wheeler for some specifics, but when we talk about efficiency, the question really becomes one of within the existing spectrum that we utilize -- whether we utilize it exclusively or whether we share it -- the question is, how do we make sure that as the technologies evolve, we're utilizing those technologies that are much more focused in terms of the amount of spectrum we use. And this is really the area where we're very dependent upon where technologies going to be going, and why we're very interested in where the commercial sectorís going because they have some of the same challenges we do around being able to efficiently use spectrum. So, whether that's using, you know, less spectrum for a particular operation, whether that means that we can do it, you know, with less interference, I think that that's really the challenge for us.

And I'm going to turn it to General Wheeler for -- in a minute for the -- you know, a couple of specific examples. But I think the other piece that you talked about in terms of whether there's this challenge of, you know, what's our percentage of how much less we're going to use. Again, we're not actually looking at it in that way. I think from our -- for our -- from our perspective, it's around -- we have a set of missions that we have today. We have a set of missions that we will continue to have, both from a national defense standpoint, but also, remember that these spectrum are very important in things like our support of natural disaster relief. And, you know, certainly, we can give you some examples of how this was important in our support of tsunami relief in Japan, for instance. But what we see it as is, we have a mission -- how do we make the best use of spectrum in order to be able to accomplish that mission? And it may be a percentage change. It may a change in the way that we look at the operation. And I think that's an important part of this. And, again, I would come back and foot stomp -- you know, it is also our collaborative effort with industry. So, it's not necessarily a percentage change here or there, but how are we able to accomplish our missions, as well as giving the commercial industry folks an opportunity to really, you know, leverage what we're doing to move ahead.

QUESTION: Can I just follow that real quick question?

[UNKNOWN]: Go ahead. Did you -- [inaudible].

WHEELER: Sure. Just -- I'll just finish a couple examples here, and I'll come right back to you in a second there. One of the prime examples, if you think of the UASs they're the small unmanned aerial vehicles that we've had. So in 2002, we had about 167 of them. We're about 7,500 today in 2010, was the latest count in those particular ones. Many of those were digital and the bandwidth required for those is much larger than the ones we're changing out in the transition plans right now to make them digital. So that digital requirement makes it more spectrally efficient, is an example of that. Another one out there, I would argue, is dynamic sharing. So you can actually put more in a smaller space by using some technologies that we are testing right now with industry to make -- so you can put more in less space and still have everybody working together as a team and not interfering with each other, because it's an automated system that does that. So it's a couple of good examples out there of the sharing side versus -- as well as changing-out systems to make them more spectrally efficient and more agile.

QUESTION: So, just a bottom-line question. Then vacating some of the spectrum is not necessarily what you're going to do, then. That's what I'm hearing. I'm hearing that, yeah, you may vacate the spectrum, but you may find that you don't need to.

WHEELER: Well, I think -- I think that's true. I think that what we've found is the best plans for the future are combining vacating, sharing, and compression. And that's how we're going forward with it. It depends. It also depends on what industry needs. Because sometimes we're willing to vacate an area and industry doesn't have the need for that particular area. So that allows us a place to go for compression, et cetera. So there's basically a combination.

QUESTION: But if we all left here and started writing stories about how you're vacating, you know, I think that there would be people opening bottles of champagne in industry. So I'm wondering, like, you know, is -- is the message here that maybe you won't be vacating?

WHEELER: I don't think that -- I don't think that's the message at all. I think it's a message that we're going to combine the different methods in the future because I think that's the way both industry, as well as DOD and the federals, understand that that's where we're going in the future. So it's a combination of that.

QUESTION: Dan Verton with FedScoop. Can you characterize, General, the results of the tests you've seen so far on dynamic sharing, and whether or not that's really a viable way for the department to go forward?

WHEELER: I see, so -- so actually, we looked at that at the beginning of some of the -- some of the ways we were looking to -- to move towards the future. I would argue that it's promising at this point, but we don't have a final for large scale. It hasn't been done at a large scale yet, and I think that's the next step. And that is something that we are working with industry right now, to see where we can go with that in the future, and how much we can or can't do. Those answers haven't been answered yet. Small scale, they are able to answer, large scale has not been done yet. Fred did you want to add anything at all to that?

MOOREFIELD: Yes, absolutely. You hit it right on the money, sir.

QUESTION: Radar's the main issue there? Most of the -- Most of the bandwidth we're talking about is being consumed by -- by radar systems?

WHEELER: I think there's a -- a plethora of systems. It's not just radar systems. There's a whole group of systems across the board, depending upon what band and what part of the country. It's also dependent upon the part of the country.

QUESTION: Hi. General, there is something mentioned that there could, when it comes to spectrum changes, that there could be a percentage thing or there could be just a change in the way that there's accomplishment of mission. Can you tell me, was that a reference to dynamic sharing, or are there other options on the table in terms of changing the mission?

WHEELER: Well, I think -- I guess I'm not quite where you're going with that, but maybe I can answer it this way and see if I answer your question. One of the comments made before had to do with the commercial side of the ballpark there, and so if we -- as we give spectrum to, let's say, the commercial side, there is very much, as we work in collaboration with the commercial side, there's also the option for us to use that same in a commercial environment. So in other words, we can use that same spectrum to work hand-in-hand with industry and actually use that for moving our data back and forth with a commercial contract. So that's kind of a -- another way to think about it, and that we haven't thought before, because -- and the bottom line too is that commercial spectrum is available to the public, but it's also available to DOD to use as we need to with a -- with a commercial contract that we would use hand-in-hand with that.

STAFF: Time for one more question.

QUESTION: I'd just like to ask in terms of the Pentagon's acquisition community and the various acquisition models and approaches that are out there, how will this impact that community in terms of how they approach acquiring various systems?

TAKAI: What we're intending is that as we roll out and as we see that there are opportunities for these emerging technologies is to ensure that program managers have adequate knowledge of what is available, that we've also laid out guidelines for them as they look at spectrum management and to make spectrum management a more critical part, if you will, of our future acquisition programs. So again, it's not just a question of, are we operating within, quote, "The DOD approved areas of spectrum," but also that we're expanding our thought process as it relates to how we're going to manage spectrum. The other challenge, I think, is some of the things that General Wheeler spoke about, which is, you know, how do we make sure that we don't have acquisitions that are only specifically targeted at a specific band, that, you know, we're looking at flexibility across -- and, you know, how do we become more flexible and agile. So those are some of the things that are going to be important in the future programs.

QUESTION: [inaudible]?

TAKAI: I think open architecture and open systems do play a more critical role, but again, that terminology is not necessarily always applied to thinking about how you utilize spectrum. And that's why we think we have to have much more specific direction that really looks at the lifespan of that program, when is that program going to deliver, where do we think the technologies are going to be. And again, so we're building more flexibility in, so we're not locked into an area of spectrum that may in fact be, you know, an area that we would be looking to share, you know, more broadly with the commercial industry.

STAFF:  Ms Takai, any closing remarks?

TAKAI:  Yes, thank you. Well, first of all, thanks everyone for your interest here.  We know that this is an issue that is of critical national importance and that's really why we're here from a DOD perspective to talk about it. I guess I'd like to just close with a few key points that hopefully you've drawn from the conversation today. And that is, first of all, that our concern from a spectrum perspective is to ensure that DOD can ensure mission success, and that we are in fact fulfilling our responsibilities from a national security perspective.

But having said that, it's important that we are much more proactive, as opposed to being reactive, to the growing demand from all of you as it relates to spectrum use and what you're going to need in the future.  And we know that that requires, thirdly, a strong collaboration with industry and other federal partners. And we're particularly interested in working with industry, because this isn't really just a discussion around how do we better use federal spectrum or DOD utilize spectrum.  But I think as General Wheeler says, it's also - what are the opportunities for DOD to take advantage of spectrum which is currently owned and operated by industry?  I think that's an area that doesn't get as much discussion, but is extremely important to us going forward.

The next one is really the leveraging of commercial technologies.  If we can work together on commercial technologies and innovative technologies, those technologies are going to be applicable to us just as they are applicable to industry.  And so we're really interested in how do we really come together on different sharing techniques, different compression techniques, any number of things that obviously all of you know, as well as I do, that five years from now this is all going to look significantly different from what it does today.

And then, finally, I think to the -- several of the points that you raised, because of our long lead times in actually being able to make major technology shifts, it's important that we have a strategy that is thinking long term.  We cannot shift in a short time frame; we just have too much equipment and too much capability that really has to be transitioned in a very thoughtful way so as not to impose a major burden on budgets and a major burden on the taxpayers. So with all of that, again, our objective is to really work collaboratively, but always with a mind towards our mission, which is really to protect all of our citizens and all of our partners and make sure that all of our men and women in uniform are really -- have the capability that they need, but are also protected from harm's way.

Thank you, very much, for participating with us today.


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