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NATO

Working Toward
 Worldwide Interoperability

September 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The working group that helped solve the coalition interoperability puzzle in Afghanistan is working across the U.S. Defense Department and with other nations to ensure that the lessons learned will be applied to future operations around the globe. Experience in creating the Afghan Mission Network may benefit warfighters worldwide, such as those in the Asia Pacific, and may even be applied to other missions, including homeland security and humanitarian assistance.

Cyberspace is a Team Sport

June 26, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Maj. Gen. Jennifer Napper, USA, director of plans and policy, U.S. Cyber Command, and other panelists at the AFCEA International Cyber Symposium in Baltimore said that cyber requires cooperation across the U.S. government, with the private sector and with other nations, including China and Russia.

Gen. Napper cited her decade of experience working with international partners on a variety of projects, plans, initiatives and operations. “While we’ve made great progress in many areas, there’s always room for more improvement. This is especially true in the area of operations in and through cyberspace. This more than any other area must be a team sport,” she said.

She offered three distinct reasons for saying that. Cyberspace includes three layers—physical, virtual and the personas. Additionally, “Whatever we talked about last year, that terminology is now seen as legacy, and that’s been true every year for the last three years in cyberspace. We clearly need to come to a common lexicon, and it has to be common not only in this country but internationally,” she declared. The third reason is that pieces and parts of the infrastructure are owned by the military services, other government agencies and private companies.

Thomas Dukes, deputy coordinator for cyber issues, U.S. State Department, said that the cyber strategy released two years set a precedent. “That was really the first time any country had done something like this, to lay out a vision for the future of cyberspace. That vision is pretty simple. We want to have open, interoperable, secure and reliable cyberspace,” Dukes explained. Achieving the vision, he added, requires cooperation across the government, with the private sector and with other nations.

Many countries followed the U.S. example, releasing cyber strategies of their own.

United States to Continue Cyber Dialogue With China in July

June 25, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The United States will continue to develop a bilateral relationship with China regarding cybersecurity issues. In fact, the two countries will meet again in Washington, D.C., on July 8th, according to Maj. Gen. John Davis, USA, senior military advisor to the undersecretary of defense—policy for cyber, Office of the Secretary of Defense. Gen. Davis, the luncheon keynote speaker on the first day of the July 24-27 AFCEA International Cyber Symposium in Baltimore, said the United States recognizes China as a rising power and a major voice in the cyber arena.

High-ranking officials from State Department, Defense Department and other agencies, have been engaged in bilateral, multi-lateral and international forums such as the United Nations and NATO. “As an example, of a critical bilateral relationship, I had the great honor to travel to China twice in the last year and engage as part of a collective U.S. academic and government interagency forum with counterpart Chinese academic and government organizations,” Gen. Davis said.

“U.S. senior government officials across the agencies have been actively engaging their Chinese government counterparts, including the People’s Liberation Army, in a number of ways already, and we would like to see those engagements expand,” Gen. Davis reported. “I had the opportunity to personally encourage a more direct military-to-military relationship with China in a serious effort to help our two nation’s militaries better understand each other, to reduce misconceptions, to reduce misinterpretations and ultimately, to reduce the chance of mistakes that can happen in cyberspace and perhaps spill over into the physical domains.”

ThalesRaytheonSystems to Upgrade NATO Missile Defense Capabilities

June 24, 2013
George I. Seffers

 
The NATO Communications and Information Agency signed with ThalesRaytheonSystems a 136 million Euro ($177,969,630 U.S.) contract for a significant upgrade to NATO’s current theatre missile defense command and control capability. By bringing new capabilities to NATO’s Air Command and Control System (ACCS), the upgrade will strengthen and expand NATO’s existing theatre missile defence command and control system, which allows the alliance to link national sensors and interceptors to defend against short and medium range ballistic missile threats. The upgrade also improves the capacity of NATO’s Air Command in Ramstein to plan and execute a missile defence battle. The contract, called ACCS Theatre Missile Defence 1, will bring new capabilities to NATO’s Air Command and Control System for receiving and processing ballistic missile tracks, including integration of additional radar and satellite feeds, major enhancement to data communication capacity and improved correlation features. The upgrade is expected to be completed by 2015.

Streamlining Coalition Mission Network Participation

June 17, 2013
By George I. Seffers

NATO and eight coalition nations participating in the Coalition Warrior Interoperability eXploration, eXperimentation and eXamination, eXercise (CWIX) are working to reduce the amount of time it takes to join coalition networks in the future. On average, it took a year or more for a nation to join the Afghan Mission Network, but officials hope to trim that down to a matter of weeks, says Lt. Col, Jenniffer Romero, USAF, the CWIX Future Mission Network focus area lead.

“On average, it was taking a year, maybe 18 months, for a nation to join the Afghan Mission Network, and usually we don’t have that much time,” says Col. Romero, who also serves as the chief, cyber assessments for the U.S. Joint Staff J6 Command, Control, Communications and Computers Assessments Division.

The network for future operations will be a federated network modeled after the Afghan Mission Network, for which NATO offered the core infrastructure that participating nations could connect with using their own networks. Col. Romero explains that the goal is to have core services up and running on “day zero,” which she defines as the day pre-deployment orders drop. “Our goal is for the lead nation or lead organization to have the core up and running on that day and for people to be able to join within weeks as opposed to months and months,” she says.

To streamline the process, officials are creating templates of instructions for joining future coalition networks, which NATO officials refer to as the Future Mission Network and U.S. officials dub the Mission Partner Environment. For the CWIX exercise, which runs from June 3-20, they have built a mission network that includes core services such as voice, chat, email and document handling. “We’re assessing those core enterprise services on a future mission network that was built for CWIX 13 specifically for that purpose,” the colonel states.

Changing the Course of Coalition Connectivity

May 1, 2013
By Rita Boland

NATO has established a new organization in Afghanistan to manage the communications and information systems there in an attempt to revolutionize its approach to those services. The group subsumes operations that used to fall under multiple regional commands, streamlining activities while conserving resources.

The NATO Sector International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) reached initial operational capability at the beginning of January and expects to reach full operational capability in June, putting the organization three-and-a-half months ahead of schedule. With the sector’s establishment, one group now oversees NATO’s entire footprint in Afghanistan to meet requirements in the most expeditious, effective and cost-efficient manner. This includes managing an estimated 70 to 75 points of presence. “It also gives us much more flexibility,” says Col. David E. Jenkins, USA, commander, Sector ISAF.

At full operation, the sector will have responsibility for all coalition, command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C5ISR) that NATO manages. In the event of any failure, sector personnel will have to find a solution to bring equipment back online through various service-level agreements.

Nations Strive for 
Interoperability

May 1, 2013
By Max Cacas

A military exercise designed to refine and improve the way coalition partners share vital information will, for the first time, include the network that is supporting troops in Afghanistan. Scheduled to take place in Poland next month, the event will feature military command and control communications experts from NATO, partner organizations and nations who share the goal of rigorously testing communications interoperability among coalition members. But one of the largest of those partners, the United States, is not taking a leading role in one of the newest, and most challenging areas, cybersecurity.

The Coalition Warrior Interoperability Exploration, Experimentation and Examination Exercise (CWIX) is held annually by NATO’s Military Committee and overseen by NATO’s office of Allied Command Transformation (ACT) based in Norfolk, Virginia. This year’s exercise will take place June 3 to 20, with its primary execution site at the Joint Forces Training Center in Bydgosczc, Poland.

Does the Joint Information Environment 
Help or Hinder Coalition Interoperability?

May 1, 2013
By Kent R. Schneider

Coalition interoperability has received a good deal of focus during the past few years. The Afghan Mission Network (AMN) has given many hope that a repeatable solution for coalition operations could be developed that would allow rapid deployment of a coalition-compatible network for future conflicts. The Future Mission Network (FMN) is envisioned to allow coalition partners to plug into a standards-compliant network with the functionality and security needed to support complex operations.

Recently, in discussions on the U.S. Defense Department initiative to develop a common operating environment referred to as the Joint Information Environment, or JIE, I began to consider whether the creation of such a common environment for the department would help move toward agile and effective coalition information sharing, or would put more distance between the U.S. military and its partners.

The conclusion I have reached is that the JIE could help or hinder coalition efforts, depending on how the JIE architecture is coordinated and whether it is kept on a path parallel to the FMN. It is important to remember that coalition information sharing today is more than just how the United States works with its foreign allies. Anywhere on the mission spectrum, the Defense Department must work with a wide range of U.S. federal agencies, industry partners and, sometimes, state, local and tribal agencies, as well as with international partners.

This means the legacy architectures, direction and needs of this extremely diverse set of players must be considered at every step of the development of the JIE. And, it is imperative to keep the development of the JIE and the development of the FMN coordinated every step of the way. Failure to do this will make it more difficult, not easier, to work with interagency partners and coalition partners.

Cobham to Supply Counter-IED Systems to NATO

March 15, 2013
George I. Seffers

Cobham, Wimborne, United Kingdom, has been awarded a £16 million ($24 million) order to supply NATO forces with leading-edge vehicle mounted Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detection equipment. These systems will be delivered in 2013 by Cobham Antenna Systems. Cobham will deliver enhanced counter-IED detection capabilities, which can be safely deployed from within the protection of mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles.

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