The U.S. Marine Corps is at the heart of the Defense Department’s efforts to get the Joint Information Environment (JIE) up and running. Although the department has been working to create the secure network operating environment for several years, frustration has risen about a lack of progress, explained Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Nally, USMC, the Marine Corps director for command, control, communications and computers (C4) and chief information officer. Speaking at AFCEA NOVA’s 12th annual Naval IT Day, the general bluntly noted that after two years of work, “we’re still at PowerPoint,” and this frustration has prompted the Corps to put forward its own unification plan.
The commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, Gen. Keith B. Alexander, USA, expressed this frustration at a recent meeting of the command's various service components. Although about $6 billion is set aside for information technology systems in the Defense Department’s program objectives memorandum, which outlines budget spending, no mention of the JIE was made in this year’s document. This is significant, because a formal allocation of resources and responsibilities will be needed to get the JIE running.
The Marine Corps has promoted its Marine Corps Enterprise Network (MCEN) unification plan as a JIE template, which is the service’s effort to fold several of its classified and unclassified networks into a single architecture. The Cyber Command, the Defense Department and Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) officials are interested in MCEN, because it provides a clear documented path to combining multiple networks with different classification levels into a single enterprise. “We’re working real hard with DISA to move this thing forward,” Gen. Nally said. “This [MCEN] unification plan, this is JIE.”
The MCEN architecture will be reviewed by all of the JIE stakeholder organizations. Some of the big issues for JIE are network normalization, a single security architecture, identity management and enterprise services. A prototype JIE architecture using the Marine Corps model will undergo testing at the Cyber Command’s cyber test range this summer, Gen. Nally said.