MICHAEL GORDON: One of the things that is particularly striking about this conflict is that the principal commands that nr charge of the war are located in different places. They are not even in different places they are in different countries. Here in Kuwait is the land command which makes some sense, this is the command that is going to oversee the marines and the Brits, it's headquartered here with a pretty souped-up, modern headquarters at Camp Doha.
Then you got to go further south to find the headquarters of the Air Force, which at Prince Sultan Air Base near Riyadh; that's where the CAIOC is -- Combat Air Operations Center. The head of CENCOM, Gen. Tommy Franks, he's at a forward command post in Qatar. Then in Bahrain, which has historically been the headquarters of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, is Adm. Keating, who is the head of the 5th Fleet and NAVCENT, basically, the head of the Navy command.
VICE ADM. TIMOTHY KEATING: Naval forces will contribute what we always bring. We've been in the Arabian Gulf since 1948 in one size or another.
MICHAEL GORDON: The navy is going to have five carriers it hopes in the fight if they can secure the over-flight rights from Turkey. Plus there is a lot of Tomahawk missile shooters, as they're called - surface ships, submarines. They think they are going to be firing more sea-based Cruise missiles and air-launched Cruise missiles. So the functional command are going to be in four different countries, how do that is work? How do you work together since you are four different countries?
VICE ADM. TIMOTHY KEATING: Seamless, you would not know it. That our boss, Gen. Franks, it really doesn't matter where in the world he is. I can sit at this computer right here on my desk and call up on the classified e-mail, classified World Wide Web. You notice a golf ball in the top that is a television camera and I can at any moment that Gen. Franks want to talk to me I come up. He see this is mug on his commuter screen. He can hook all of us in or only one of us, his choosing. Additionally, at least once a day, we have a regularly scheduled secure video teleconference where I go to another room and all of the components worldwide not just the four principal component that you mentioned, for example European command, folks in Afghanistan, folks back in the United States -
LT. GEN. DAVID McKIERNAN: What the technology allows to us do today that we couldn't do very well 12 years ago is on almost a near real time basis collaborate with our planning.
VICE ADM. TIMOTHY KEATING: A task force --.
MICHAEL GORDON: It's very souped up plasma screen that shows the whereabouts of all the aircraft and all the ships in the Persian Gulf regions.
VICE ADM. TIMOTHY KEATING: There is the U.S. Constellation. One of the three aircraft carriers we have here so I can drill down a little bit on her exact location. What her speed --
MICHAEL GORDON: What is means is commander in Tampa or commander in Bahrain or a commander in Doha City or one of the others in Riyadh, they can see wherever single aircraft is over Iraq and in the area. Where all the ships are. It can actually step back a bit and look from Turkey through Afghanistan to the Horn of Africa.
LT. GEN JAMES CONWAY: If there has been one aspect of military command and control that has been amazing to me to watch over a career it has been this whole concept of communications and the ability to communicate between individuals, groups of individuals at distance. I mean, continents away.
MICHAEL GORDON: All this computer and digital technology has made it more efficient to do the war. It doesn't mean everything they are planning will work or that there won't be problems in warfare but it means they can get their own orders to their own guys a lot easier and last time, there was a lot of inter operability problems as they like to call that. The air force talking to the navy wasn't always so easy.
VICE ADM. TIMOTHY KEATING: I flew from the USS Saratoga from the Red Sea flying an f-18 in 1991 in Desert Storm, the air tasks order, the ATO was promulgated from the air campaign headquarters in Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, and it was delivered as a newspaper, the New York Times might be delivered. We sent someone in. They picked up the hard copy thick message, got in an airplane and flew out to the Red Sea.
MICHAEL GORDON: They would grab this thing because sometimes their missions would be hours away or the next day, race to their maps and try to figure out what they were supposed to do. That is how they disseminated the attack orders last time.
VICE ADM. TIMOTHY KEATING: Young men had to sit down and hand scribe the parts of the message that was delivered like the newspaper, put it in various formats so that other folks could pick it up and take it down to the ready rooms and study it in each ready room.
MICHAEL GORDON: This time it's done on line. They have years of experience and actually flying over southern Iraq through the, their patrol zone and the no-fly zone so from that point of view it's an entirely different situation.