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Contract Protest Does Not Change NGEN Vision

August 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

 

The U.S. Navy’s Next-Generation Enterprise Network will introduce a host of new capabilities for users when it is implemented. These improvements will become apparent over time as the system’s flexibility allows for technology upgrades and operational innovation on the part of its users.

The network’s overall goals remain the same despite a protest over the contract award. However the protest is resolved, the program is designed to provide networking at less cost and with more flexibility to adjust for changes that emerge as a result of operational demand or technology improvements. These new capabilities could range from greater use of mobile technologies to virtual desktops dominating user environments.

Terry Halvorsen, Department of the Navy chief information officer, emphasizes that the user community at first will see little change when the Next-Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) begins operation. The Navy’s goal is for a seamless changeover from the existing Navy/Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) to NGEN. “The user community initially won’t see any differences as we move forward in NGEN,” he says. “Everything we’re doing initially should be transparent to the user, and we have good plans in place to make that happen.”

NGEN aims to serve 800,000 users, 400,000 workstations and 2,500 locations in the United States and Japan. The Navy’s Fleet Cyber Command/10th Fleet will be operating the network with full command and control. Contractor personnel will perform some hands-on activities.

Marines Set the Stage for Next-Generation Network

August 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

 

The steady march toward the U.S. Navy’s Next-Generation Enterprise Network underwent a leap ahead as the U.S. Marines undertook a full transition before the contract for the new system even was awarded. The multiyear effort saw the Corps methodically absorb functions of the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet predecessor so the service was positioned for a smooth adoption of the new network.

This shift to a government-owned network required more than just a change in direction. The Corps had to achieve the transition without allowing any break in services to its Marines concurrent with deployments to Southwest Asia. It had to move network operations seamlessly across a philosophical gulf as well as a logistical one without creating a new infrastructure. And, it had to finish the transition perfectly positioned for the incorporation of the Next-Generation Enterprise Network, or NGEN.

By design, the transition planners had to aim at a hidden target. The entire transition took place before the contract for NGEN was awarded (see page 53), so they had no idea what the network would resemble. They needed to estimate what the winning bidder—whichever team it would be—would configure as a cost-effective, government-owned and -operated enterprise network. Then, the planners had to design a transition that would lead the Corps to that envisioned destination without losing any functionality along the way.

On June 1, the multiyear effort largely was completed. Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Nally, USMC, director of Command, Control, Communications and Computers (C4) and chief information officer (CIO) for the Marine Corps, lauds the results. “The transition effort went very, very well,” he states, crediting the skill of the personnel involved for its successful outcome. Their knowledge, as well as their ability to adapt and overcome hurdles, were key to the transition program.

All Aboard for Joint Information Environment

August 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers

 

Despite small pockets of resistance, officials across the U.S. Defense Department and military services support the convergence of multiple networks into one common, shared, global network. Lessons learned from the theater of operations indicate the need for the joint environment, which will provide enterprise services such as email, Internet access, common software applications and cloud computing.

That was the consensus from a wide range of speakers and panelists at the June 25-27 AFCEA International Cyber Symposium in Baltimore. The Joint Information Environment (JIE) was a major topic of discussion. Lt. Gen. Mark Bowman, USA, director of command, control, communications and computers, J-6, the joint staff, indicated that the joint environment is his highest priority and described it as the way to the future. “We have no choice. We have to be interoperable day one, phase one, to plug into any operation anywhere in the world, whether it be for homeland defense, disaster relief here in the United States or some combat operation somewhere around the world with coalition partners,” Gen. Bowman declared.

Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence, USA, Army chief information officer (G-6), called the JIE “absolutely essential,” and indicated that it will better allow warfighters to deploy “on little notice into any austere environment.”

Teresa Salazar, deputy chief, Office of Information Dominance, and deputy chief information officer, U.S. Air Force, said she saw the need for the JIE while in the desert, where every service and every “three-letter agency” came in with its own network, which led to vulnerabilities and a host of complications.

Smartphone Increases Soldier Intelligence

July 26, 2013

10th Mountain Division U.S. Army Rangers and soldiers on the battlefield are now wearing commercial smartphones to communicate with each other and higher commands. Nett Warrior is a Samsung Galaxy Note II with its commercial memory wiped clean and Army-developed software loaded. It displays the locations of fellow soldiers, allows placement of location digital chem-light markers, and enables warfighters to communicate through texting. This information is then relayed to commanders over encrypted tactical radios.

“We are beholden to the commercial industry,” Jason Regnier, project manager, Nett Warrior, PEO Soldier, says. At approximately $700 per unit, buying the devices commercially costs substantially less than procuring similar devices from contractors, he explains.

In addition, the ability to buy newer versions of a device as technology matures means soldiers can transition to up-to-date capabilities as they develop. “So when the Note IIs are gone, they’re gone. Then we’ll have to be ready to buy Note IIIs or whatever it’s going to be,” Regnier relates.

Before the smartphones are integrated into a Net Warrior system, most of the communications capability is disabled, including the cellular antennas and the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities. A USB connection with a soldier’s hip-mounted Rifleman Radio enables communication.

NGEN Protest Halts Contract Work

July 16, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Implementation of the U.S. Navy’s $3.5 billion Next-Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) will have to wait until a protest by two of the companies that did not receive the contract is upheld or rejected. The U.S. Government Accountability Office has until October 23 to rule on the challenge.

No Venue, No Problem

July 1, 2013
By Max Cacas

The U.S. Navy uses a popular online collaboration tool 
to change course around last-minute travel restrictions.

The U.S. Naval Safety and Environmental Training Center, charged with conducting safety and environmental training worldwide, successfully is circumventing hurriedly imposed government travel restrictions by using an online application to conduct safety and environmental training. The tool recently enabled the center to conduct an annual conference with more than 1,000 attendees.

Normally used for smaller meetings, the Adobe Connect software, which operates in the cloud environment, is readily available to the entire U.S. defense community through the Defense Information Systems Agency’s (DISA’s) Defense Connect Online (DCO).

“We execute an annual joint occupational safety and health conference,” explains Cmdr. Greg Cook, USN, commanding officer, U.S. Naval Safety and Environmental Training Center (NSETC) in Norfolk, Virginia. “We have members of all five services ... active duty military as well as civilians across the services.” The conference has been offered annually for the past 20 years, with venues alternating each year between Norfolk and San Diego.

Asymmetric Cyberwarfare Demands a New Information Assurance Approach

July 1, 2013
By Paul A. Strassmann

The planners of the Defense Department Joint Information Environment, or JIE, must specify the requirements that can cope with the surges in asymmetric cyberwarfare—now. Asymmetric warfare describes conflicts in which the resources of the two belligerents differ in terms of their weapons and organization. The opponents will attempt to exploit each other’s weaknesses.

To defend against asymmetric warfare requires the imposition of a unified intelligence that is applicable to all U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force applications. Proceeding with comprehensive protective solutions is required prior to completing facility consolidations. Fixing applications before consolidating computer processing has become one of the primary requirements for safe cyber operations.

Proceeding with only enhancements of legacy operations will not be sufficient. For example, placing emphasis on data center consolidations without a simultaneous re-engineering of applications cannot deflect targeted cyber attacks.

Cyberwarfare has evolved over the past 40 years. Information security methods, which used to protect computer systems, now are inadequate. Thousands of unknown global cyber attackers examine millions of dispersed targets, but only hundreds of defenders protect tens of thousands of applications located in fixed positions. The disparity between many unknown attackers compared with a few known defenders has created a situation where asymmetric warfare is the prevalent condition under which system operations now take place.

In the Cyber Trenches

July 1, 2013
By Max Cacas

The Army adjusts its training and career path for cyber domain troops and leaders.

The U.S. Army is taking a successful model developed to train chief warrant officers in the realm of information assurance and is adapting it for qualified enlisted personnel and officers. Instead of reinventing the wheel, the program blends already-successful cybersecurity training designed for the private sector with training tailored for the Army’s mission-specific networks. The goal is to create a career path for what is expected to be a cadre of cyberspecialists whose primary goal is to protect and defend the service’s digital infrastructure.

“The Army realized that our networks were being constantly attacked, but we never realized it until after it had taken place,” says Joey Gaspard, chief, Information Assurance Branch, U.S. Army Signal Center at Fort Gordon, Georgia. He adds that in 2007, the service embarked on a program to match staffing and training to be more proactive about cybersecurity. “Instead of consistently sitting there, waiting to be hit, they decided to put themselves in a position where we looked at the training. Commercial industry was already training personnel to defend commercial organizations, so why couldn’t the Army do the same thing?”

In response to that question, the Army embarked on a re-examination of its military occupational specialty (MOS) categories, which describe every job at every rank within the Army. The Signal Center focused on the MOS pertaining to cybersecurity.

Hooked on Mobile 
Security

July 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers

Project Fishbowl spurs industry to
 meet military
 and intelligence 
community needs.

U.S. intelligence and defense officials are wrapping up a mobile device pilot program known as the Fishbowl project and are planning over the next year to expand on the capabilities it provides. Doing so is part of a larger strategy to wean the agency and the Defense Department off of government-designed mobile device technology, which will save time and money while providing secure, cutting-edge electronics for high-level government officials and to individual soldiers.

Fishbowl provided 100 Android devices to users across 25 organizations. The name is a reference to the fact that fishbowl users are a closed community capable of talking only to one another on the device, which provides secure voice and data services including email, calendar and some chat capability. “These are all Web-mediated services. We don’t store data directly on the device. It acts as a thin client back to the enterprise so that if the device gets lost, there’s very little data that can be obtained from the device itself,” says Troy Lange, National Security Agency (NSA) senior executive for the mobility mission. The NSA is teamed with the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) on the project.

The next step is for DISA to implement an operational capability that will replace the pilot. DISA also will establish a government-owned app store that will add to the catalogue of available software applications for mobile products.

Information Agency 
Changes Security Approach

July 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The increasing use of readily available and inexpensive commercial technologies by the military is changing the way the Defense Information Systems Agency provides information assurance. As these technologies are integrated into the Defense Department information infrastructure, the agency is adjusting its approaches to providing security for its networks and the data that reside on them.

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