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With NGEN, It's Déjà Vu All Over Again

April 2011
By Capt. Joseph A. Grace Jr., USN (Ret.), SIGNAL Magazine

In the late 1990s, the U.S. Navy decided it needed to change the way it handled information technology. So, it created the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet, or NMCI. Yes, for many, it was seen as a four-letter word. With the NMCI, the Navy elected to outsource the entire program to industry—the company EDS. The process took many years of study and analysis, as well as dealing with policy, procedure, culture wars and a host of other common barriers to any new concept. From congressional oversight to acquisition nightmare, every potential roadblock emerged. Yet, the NMCI was implemented, and one lesson from that implementation applies very much today as the Navy seeks to upgrade its information technology.

Facing the Strange Changes

March 2, 2011
By H. Mosher

In this month's Incoming column, Capt. Joseph A. Grace Jr., USN (Ret.), discusses the difficulties of change, whether it involves renovating his home or upgrading government information technology. He asks, "What is the proverbial air conditioner in our government and business systems that we are not willing to move, even though it would make everything work? Did we invest in a technology a few years ago that now doesn't scale, but we are not willing to move from our previous decision and continue to throw good money at a wrong decision?"

What Is the Air Conditioner We're Not Willing to Move?

March 2011
By Capt. Joseph A. Grace Jr., USN (Ret.), SIGNAL Magazine

For the past 15 years, my family has been in an ongoing love-hate relationship with our 110-year-old historic New Orleans home, and we recently decided it finally was time to do “the big one” and renovate it. Do we move out or do we live with the mess? Can we still operate with some sanity and functionality in the house while we’re making the changes? What about our budget, managing the architecture and requirements of historic preservation?

Incoming: No More 8-Tracks

February 2, 2011
By H. Mosher

This month, Capt. Joseph A. Grace Jr., USN (Ret.) likens the state of government technology to that of an 8-track tape player--"now DIACAP-certified, ruggedized, encrypted and able to be thrown out of the car window at 60 miles per hour unharmed"--in an iPod world, thanks to a bloated procurement process.

Time for Government to Dump its 8-Tracks

February 2011
By Capt. Joseph A. Grace Jr., USN (Ret.), SIGNAL Magazine

In the early 1970s, the music industry was transformed by the arrival of a practical solution to mobile music—the 8-track player. The world embraced this technology, which infected car stereos, home entertainment systems, portable players and lifestyles. While transformational, this technology soon was replaced by the cassette, followed by CDs and audio DVDs until Apple came out with the iPod—another game-changing technology. The market has created many forms of iPod docking stations for cars, clock radios, entertainment systems, airplane seats, pillows and every possible application. Uses include photos, FM radio, podcasts, videoconferencing and Wi-Fi. This technology is significantly smaller, faster, more comprehensive, more capable and inherently more user-friendly than its 8-track progenitor. The same lessons from this progression can be applied to command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) and government information technology.

Jack of All Trades or Master of None?

January 2011
By Capt. Joseph A. Grace Jr., USN (Ret.), SIGNAL Magazine

Where have all the leaders gone? Gone to better opportunities every one; when will we ever learn, when will we ever learn. Who ever would have thought that the words from the popular protest song of the 1960s could be so relevant to the world of technology and leadership today?

Maneuver in the Global Commons—The Cyber Dimension

December 2010
By Linton Wells II, SIGNAL Magazine

Much has been written about maneuver in various domains of conflict—land, sea and air. As in many other fields, the thinking owes much to the late Col. John Boyd, USAF, who is well known for his concept of the OODA loop (observe, orient, decide, act), and who contributed materially to thinking about maneuver warfare vice attrition warfare.

Improving Alliance Cybersecurity

November 2010
By Linton Wells II, SIGNAL Magazine

Cyberdefense is far from being a challenge just for the United States—there are many international aspects to this issue. In this column last month, I cited the important Foreign Affairs article “Defending a New Domain” by Deputy Secretary of Defense Bill Lynn, which addresses U.S. Defense Department cyberstrategy head on.
Alliance relationships depend on shared trust, especially in networked environments. Lynn’s article notes that, “Some of the United States’ computer defenses are already linked with those of U.S. allies, especially through existing signals intelligence partnerships, but greater levels of cooperation are needed to stay ahead of the cyberthreat. Stronger agreements to facilitate the sharing of information, technology and intelligence must be made with a greater number of allies.”

Cyber Defense Strategy, From Paper to Practice

October 6, 2010
By H. Mosher

This month, Linton Wells II drew his inspiration for Mission Assurance Moves to the Fore in Cyberspace from Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III's recently published article, Defending a New Domain: The Pentagon's Cyberstrategy. Wells summarizes Lynn's strategy points, noting that taken on a whole they have a broader implication than just cyberdefense. It has more to do with mission assurance, he says. But he has a number of concerns, among them: how will the new cyberstrategy be implemented? And how can the private sector do a better job of meeting its requirements?

Mission Assurance Moves to the Fore in Cyberspace

October 2010
By Linton Wells II, SIGNAL Magazine

Last month I expressed concern that the growing gap between online functionality and security demanded a rethinking of several key aspects of security—more focus on tagging and tracking data, rethinking resilience and robustness, clearer security policies, and a need to change people’s behavior to reflect more security awareness.

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