Remarks by the Hon. Emmett Paige, Jr., Assistant Secretary of Defense
for Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence, March 24, 1994,
at the Twelfth Annual National Conference on Ada Technology, held in
Williamsburg, Va. Mr. Paige retired from the Army in 1988 as a
Lieutenant General, his last position being head of the U.S. Army
Information Systems Command.
"Good morning. It is indeed a pleasure to be with you again.
"As most of you know, my command -- with Jim Schell as the quarterback -
- started these sessions quite a few years ago, with the first
conference being held in Atlanta at Morehouse University in the Martin
Luther King Auditorium. So I am no stranger to most of you. You
already know that I view Ada as fundamental to the success of automated
software-driven systems in DoD, to include our weapon systems, command-
and-control systems, intelligence systems, combat-support systems,
business systems, and all other management-information systems. As most
of you know that have heard me talk about management-information systems
and command-and-control systems, I consider them as one and the same or
interchangeable terms. The same goes for intelligence systems, business
systems, and combat-support systems. So I firmly believe that the need
for Ada as the standard programming language is essential for all of our
DoD software-driven systems where DoD will be responsible for lifecycle
maintenance and software support. The cost of software lifecycle
maintenance was one of the driving factors in the DoD thrust to develop
Ada back in the late 1970's. The cost of maintenance has not gone down.
If anything, it has increased.
"Another driving factor was the need for transportability of software
across platforms. Again, that need has not gone away. Our need for
transportability is as great today as it ever was. Another driving
factor was the need for reliability. Again, that need is still with us
as much as it ever was. Let there be no doubt, C and C++ have made a
difference in terms of availability of quality higher-order-language
availability to the software-development world, but there are almost as
many versions of those languages as there are versions of the Spanish
language. There is no single standard, and the quality and reliability
do not match that of Ada. So, with those declarations as an entree, I
Continue on Course
"I believe we must continue and accelerate our efforts to achieve truly
integrated systems. Ada is vital to reaching this promised land of
information availability to all users when they need it, as they need
it, no matter where they need it. But Ada alone is not the answer. We
need a whole suite of things, from compilers to [relational database
management systems] RDBMSs. Above all else, we need the full commitment
of our managers at all levels to comply with the policies and standards
that are established by [the Office of the Secretary of Defense] OSD.
We need the commitment of our managers at all levels to comply with the
full intent and spirit of legislative language as it comes from
"This morning, I'd like to look first at the status of Ada itself, then
at the overall context of software engineering. Finally, I want to
place all this within the context of where we are going in terms of
overall technological progress as I view the world from my vantage
"I suppose you've heard me called an Ada zealot or an Ada fanatic. I
want you to know that I am neither. Winston Churchill once said that a
fanatic was someone who can't change his mind and won't change the
subject. Well, I am here to tell you that I can and will change my mind
when given the facts to do so. I have not been given any facts that
convince me that Ada is a bad business decision for the DoD or that it
is not superior to anything else that exists. Those of you that have
been around should recall my warnings of the past that Ada must be
dynamic. It must continue to evolve and meet the needs of the DoD. I
believe it is doing that. However, I must admit that the process is a
lot slower than I would like, but that's the price we must pay for being
an international standard. As for changing the subject, I would be
happy to change the subject when there is no longer a reason to talk
about software programming languages in DoD.
"The DoD policy on the use of Ada is clear and simple:
We will use commercial off-the-shelf software as much as possible, and
that means we will depend on the marketplace for lifecycle maintenance
and support. There is no reason for us to develop software and be
responsible for updating and maintenance when the commercial base and
demands from the marketplace will cause industry to do that.
When DoD needs to develop new code, which means we will be responsible
for lifecycle maintenance and support, we will write it in Ada. This
includes the code for interfacing among [commercial off-the-shelf] COTS
packages and for interfacing among systems supporting various defense
Early Use of Ada 9X
"Ada itself is still growing, and I look forward to the widespread
availability of the new features that are being added to Ada 9X to make
Ada easier to use and more amenable to working with modules written in
other languages. I recently approved use of the Ada 9X compilers in
certain cases prior to full approval of the updated standard.
"Ada 9X has progressed to the point that we are confident of its
approval by the national and international standards body this year. We
want to ease the transition to the new version. We also want to give
the earliest possible access to the new version's many enhancements.
-full support for object-oriented programming,
-enhancements for real-time programming, and
-convenient interfacing to other languages and systems.
"I want to stress that DoD is not in any way diluting the consistent
power of Ada, which comes from using only compilers that have been
validated. What we are doing is expediting the availability of Ada
enhancements that are soon to come. The interim use of unvalidated Ada
9X compilers is restricted to:
-research and development programs
-proof-of-concept prototypes, as long as any subsequent system is
-delivered using validated Ada 9X compilers, and
-system development programs, also with the proviso that
subsequent production systems use validated Ada 9X compilers.
"We are streamlining access to Ada 9X so that we can obtain more quickly
the benefits of its use. This is in keeping this administration's goals
of streamlining the way our government works. We can still maintain our
emphasis on standardization of the language while facilitating access to
the upcoming version.
Getting Information Where It's Needed
"The President has challenged us with making our government work better
and cost less. Ada is a major contributor to doing this with regard to
our software-driven systems.
"I realize that there are a number of people here from outside the
government, but what I am talking about just makes good business and
technical sense in terms of software development and maintenance. More
importantly, this translates to better service for the users of our
systems throughout the department of defense. Our ultimate customer is
the warfighter and the people of this great nation of ours. This is my
focus. We must give our warfighters the right information at the right
location at the right time. And access must remain constant and easy
even in the worst of circumstances. Our information systems must help
to cut through the fog of war, rather than add to it by being unwieldy,
complicated, inconsistent, unreliable, or just plain unavailable. We
owe the people of this country the best possible support to our fighting
forces at the most affordable price. I am convinced that our declared
software policies will ensure that we do just that.
Strengths of the Language
"There are a number of steps that we can take to upgrading the quality
of our software and information systems. One way is to stick to
programming practices that produce reliable, fail-safe code.
"I believe that Ada does this. I realize that using Ada does not appeal
to hackers who like to dabble with pointers and bits, but we are not
interested in quick fixes that endanger long-term operations. This is
not to say that quality software can't be written in other languages.
It can. But maintaining it is much easier if the code is Ada, and it
will likely be vastly more reliable.
"This is also not to say that high-quality software can't be developed
quickly in other languages. But this usually is restricted to
relatively small programs when dealing in other than Ada. I am pleased
to hear about what is being called the "Ada effect" -- when software
development is completed before the hardware platform is procured, or
before the weapon-system platform is completed.
"I feel that I am no longer a voice crying in the wilderness about the
advantages of Ada, when I hear about the success stories due to its use.
And some of the most successful applications are in areas that would
have been considered as high-risk for other languages -- applications as
transportation-control networks, submarine-combat systems, medical
systems, warning receivers for electronic-warfare systems, and
controllers for air-to-air missiles.
"Other Ada users are finding that they can more easily adapt to their
customers' needs. For financial services, public utilities, satellite
communications, and steel mills, Ada is giving the adaptability we must
achieve in the software industry to put our users in their proper place
-- in the driver's seat.
"Our users often see software developers as outsiders, who say they will
make work easier, but instead introduce all sorts of bells and whistles,
added steps and menus. An everyday example is in commercial word-
processing software, where added power sometimes comes at the expense of
added keystrokes. Another example is a radar display that shows the
flight path of an airplane, but does not simultaneously display altitude
data or whether the aircraft is ascending or descending. In the time to
switch between applications -- or even to make the human decision that
such a switch is necessary -- disaster can occur.
Support from the Top
"The need for seamless, adaptable, reliable software should make the use
of Ada an obvious choice. And I suppose that testimonials on the
success of Ada, such as those available through the Ada Information
Clearinghouse, should make persuasive arguments for the use of Ada. But
it appears that more aggressive steps are needed, and hopefully, we are
"Perhaps I am preaching to the Ada choir at this point, so let's take a
look at the use of Ada along with other information technology
standards. As a taxpayer, I am appalled at the hands-off approach that
has been taken to enforcement of standards in the past. Those days are
gone. I do not believe we have had good enforcement. We are moving out
with enforcement of language standards, data standards, and DoD-wide
standard systems to support each defense function. We will enforce the
standards and policies as a part of the [Defense Acquisition Board] DAB
process with the C3I systems review group, and also the [Major Automated
Information Systems Review Council] MAISRC process. Across the DoD, we
are in the midst of bringing down our number of information systems to
one per function.
"DoD is taking this on as a top management issue, and by the end of this
month each functional leader will determine which of its legacy systems
will be continued as a department standard. Each leader will also plan
for the elimination of all other legacy systems on a three-year
"Our move to standard data will occur over the same three years. The
step beyond both of these is to optimize the operations within and among
the functions. This includes both functions being supported by the
target systems and the target systems themselves.
Adapting to Change
"But let's look first at the move to standard, DoD-wide migration
systems. All decisions are being based on a single set of criteria that
cover functional, technical, and programmatic factors, along with the
ability to support use of standard data. I'd like to give you a few
details on the technical criteria.
"An overarching goal in setting our technical criteria is to plan for
change. Many of these parallel the design criteria that resulted in the
development of Ada, such as reliability, maintainability, and machine
independence. In addition, we look for use of Ada or the ability to
transition to Ada. We also look for the applicability of commercial-
off-the-shelf software and the ability to re-use software as much as
"We seek to leverage as much of our existing resources and investments
as possible. The future of defense information systems is much the same
as for defense weapon systems -- instead of starting from scratch to
obtain new capabilities, we will build upon existing capabilities as
much as possible. We will have more of what is seen as product
improvements or technology insertion rather than the development of
whole or completely new systems.
"We will reuse software to the fullest extent possible. Ada, with its
strong typing, is well suited for reuse, since it supports error-free
interfaces among software modules. This also makes Ada ideal for being
the glue between software modules written in other languages. Its
strong control and data-specification features can act as filters for
errors that may have been introduced or brought to light in the
combining of dissimilar or separately developed modules.
"As you already know, Ada is also conducive to reuse because of its
reliance on sound software-engineering principles. As you already know,
Ada is meant to produce independent, verifiable software components that
can be combined and recombined in various ways. We must get on with
fully exploiting Ada by concentrating on building the right things once
and then reusing them.
"The overarching problem thus becomes that of establishing the framework
for combining reusable software modules. The basic structure or
architecture determines how well a system can evolve, be enhanced, or be
reused in a way that is cost-effective and still responsive to user
needs. We are placing more emphasis on development of domain models and
domain architectures in which we will fit our reusable Ada code. DoD
has several pilot projects underway for developing domain-specific
models. Hopefully, these will become the frameworks for the future.
The days of focusing only on code are over. Our emphasis includes
overall functional architectures and their integration into a
"I would like for you to consider in human terms the implications of our
view of software, which is engineered within an overarching framework,
which is within the context of overall user and mission support.
"Consider first the software engineers. As I see it, some people
confuse software scientists and software engineers. The scientists are
on the cutting edge of research and are pushing the envelope of what can
be done technologically. Engineers are usually devoted more to
practical applications and implement the technology to a specific task.
"In my view, software engineering is among the youngest members of the
engineering family. As of yet, software engineering is not a profession
in the sense of having a basic core of knowledge, education, and
standards associated with it.
"I am encouraged by the work begun by the IEEE Computer Society last
spring to take a look at establishing software engineering as a
profession. They are looking at standard definitions, the required body
of knowledge, recommended practices, ethical considerations, and
educational curricula. Whether or not this results in formal licensing
or certification, this will emphasize rigor in the software development
process across the board.
"This type of rigor is already implicit in the use of Ada. And the use
of Ada results in systems that are engineered to be re-engineered, that
is, changeable to fit changing times.
"It is ironic that, while Vice-President Gore is urging us to move from
the industrial age to the information age, our information systems are
often hindrances to re-engineering our business processes.
"Adaptability to new situations, new customers, and new business
processes should be built into our systems. And it should be instilled
into our people, by which I mean all of our software professionals.
"For this we rely on the curricula of our colleges and universities. By
using Ada in software-engineering courses, students are exposed to
software excellence from the start. It reinforces the value of adhering
to valid software-engineering principles and demonstrates that software
skill is a larger construct than just the writing of clever code.
"I am not alone in holding this view. The free Ada compiler for
educational users has been downloaded by over 4,000 users in its DOS
form since September 1993. There were an additional one thousand users
in the first three weeks of the Macintosh version's availability in
People Skills in Programming
"Ada was developed with the understanding that programming is a human
activity. We should keep this precept in mind with other aspects of the
preparation of our future software engineers. We cannot overlook the
people skills that are involved. Allow me to elaborate on a few of
- Our engineers must be more attuned to listening to user requirements.
- Our engineers must be more flexible in changing their own work products. A solution that was perfect yesterday may be inadequate for tomorrow's requirements.
- Our engineers must be immunized against a "not invented here" syndrome.
The flip side of this is that our engineers must be open to sharing
their results and using it to leverage the work of others.
And all of these go double for the managers. We cannot ask any more of
our engineers than we ask of ourselves.
"As a technical manager for the DoD, I find that our customers have
increased their expectations of what information technology can do for
them. I find these increased expectations to be well founded. For not
only do we have the technologies at our fingertips for making great
change, we also have an increased spirit of cooperation throughout the
leadership of the DoD.
"Much of the defense leadership has a solid background in the corporate
world. We have seen the problems introduced by the short-term, quick-
profit thinking. We have steered corporations through storms created by
international competition -- we've even stirred up some of the storms
We have all become accustomed to the fantastic rate of innovation in the
information technology realm. We also know that real value of the new
technologies come from the use. For instance, the national information
superhighway, in and of itself, is interesting technologically. But
when we see what it can bring in terms of educational, medical, and
other personal terms, the superhighway becomes an exciting way to
improve the quality of life throughout our country.
"For the information superhighway, we are relying primarily on the
private sector for innovation and development. This is in keeping with
this administration's emphasis on breaking down barriers between our
government and the corporate world and with academia. We are forming
new partnerships to improve our technology base and the resulting
products and services.
"Our Ada programs exemplify the progress that can be made through these
partnerships. We are placing special emphasis on dual-use. We look
forward to further gains from the increased use of Ada we anticipate
following the availability of validated Ada 9X compilers.
"The increased reliance on computers in government and industry and in
our homes and schools means that our software must be increasingly
reliable, adaptable, and accurate. And our costs must drop. To do this
in DoD, we have chosen the path of reusable Ada software.
Finding solutions together
"I appreciate your attention this morning. I would be glad to entertain
any questions that you may have. "Let there be no doubt that Ada is
still alive and well. The detractors will say that it is a relic, a
language of the past, a language that has missed its opportunity as the
train has left the station and the C++ train has arrived as the silver
bullet that we have all been waiting for.
"I proclaim to you that Ada has not missed the window of opportunity.
She is still alive and well. Ada 9X takes a sip from the fountain of
youth, and it will be around as the next evolution. Certainly there
will and must be something beyond Ada, something beyond C++ and any of
the languages or methods that we know today. Hopefully, the R&D
community will devote some of their resources to finding the silver
bullet that we need. We will not throw the baby out with the bath
"Thank you very much."