AFCEA Europe’s TechNet International 2013, held at the Lisbon Congress Center, Portugal, on October 23 and 24, was organized under the patronage of the minister of national defense, Portugal, in cooperation with the NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency and with the support of the AFCEA Portugal Chapter. This event, which was run under the theme “Go Connected + Go Smart = Zero Distance,” brought together more than 300 experts from NATO, government, academia and industry.
Challenges and solutions abound as the alliance puts its reorganization to the test.
The recent reorganization of NATO’s information organization represents the leading edge of a series of new approaches toward operations and procurement by the 63-year-old alliance. At the heart of this effort is NATO’s “smart defense” initiative, which seeks to do more with less. By design, it must involve industry and cooperative efforts early in the development of any program.
The final conference in the TechNet Land Forces series focuses on military efforts to defend vital computer networks.
Having experienced more than a decade of hot and humid Washington, D.C., summers, I thoroughly enjoyed the pleasant start we experienced this year. Warm temperatures, cooling breezes and clear skies made for delightful days and evenings. It doesn’t get much better than that. Unfortunately, the political climate in no way resembles that pattern. The storm clouds of dissent have moved from the horizon to a perch directly overhead, and there are no clearer skies in the forecast.
The Free World’s militaries are entering a period of retrenchment just as adversaries are developing new and deadly threats to challenge Western national security. These new threats, many of which are based on the same technologies that have empowered modern defense forces, have the potential to imperil entire nations. Countering them will tax the capabilities of military forces that already are facing reductions in capabilities and size because of severe budget cuts imposed by the global financial crisis.
Cloud, mobility and consolidation are growing in importance within the military information technology community and for its private-industry partners. Lt. Gen. Ronnie D. Hawkins, USAF, director, Defense Information Systems Agency, spoke about his organization’s efforts in those areas such as a major project migrating defense network users to an enterprise email system. In 18 months, 390,000 U.S. Army personnel have made the transition.
U.S. military land forces increasingly rely on networks, data and a secure cyberspace to accomplish virtually every mission, including combat, humanitarian and peacetime duties. That reliance, however, comes with a wide array of challenges, changes and adjustments as forces continually transition to the next new technology. Military and industry experts gathered at the TechNet Land Forces conference in Tucson, Arizona, in late March to search for solutions that make the transitions smoother.
U.S. government departments may be facing deep budget cuts, but companies could end up on top if they listen closely to agencies' priorities. At the top of the list are cloud computing, cybersecurity, mobility and information sharing between government and industry.
The defense budget cuts proposed for the foreseeable future offer the potential for both weakening the military and triggering a renaissance in innovation. And, that is just for the current reductions in the budget; if further draconian cuts are imposed, then no amount of innovation will make up for what some experts describe as a devastating evisceration of U.S. defense capabilities.
Cyberspace has become a new dimension in warfare and defense. And, just like the other dimensions—air, land and sea—it requires special operation tactics and technologies. Given the many advantages offered by cyberwarfare—low cost, widespread applicability and ease of operation—it is likely to be the weapon of choice for future aggressors menacing NATO and its allies.
The challenges presented by the Asia-Pacific region in the 21st century are complex and diverse, and the U.S. military must carry out an increasingly changing mission under tightening budget constraints. The United States must adapt to ensure that it can address these and many other concerns, including cyberspace security of military and commercial networks, that will play a significant role in determining the future of the Asia-Pacific region.
In the coming decade, the mantra of doing more without more could become one of the defining hallmarks of military communications—not only for the United States, but also among the nation’s coalition partners and allies.
New security concerns are vying with the global financial crisis as NATO’s Allied Command Transformation attempts to keep abreast of the dynamic field of global security. Gen. Stéphane Abrial, FRAF, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, opened the eighth ACT Industry Day held in London in September by emphasizing that affordability is today’s important word.
For the leadership of the Defense Information Systems Agency, the opportunity to meet and greet with the contractors and companies that supply mission-critical applications and hardware is vital to their mission. That is why DISA has been holding its Customer and Industry Forum for the last several years.
Leaders of the U.S. Army’s cybercommunity have outlined plans for the network of 2020. Reductions in force, cuts to budgets and advances in technology all will play roles in shaping upcoming cyberoperations. The Army also is revolutionizing the way it approaches integration to the network, moving testing out of war zones and into exercises that simulate current battlefield conditions.
The severity of the global financial crisis has permeated budgeting within the defense sector, and indications are that the cuts will go far deeper than many of the experts believe is practical. As a result, the task at hand is to shape the future in a very different budget environment than ever before, with leaders being challenged to make decisions without the benefit of historical models. The fiscal crisis in the United States is its primary security threat today, according to Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, USA, former commander, U.S. Joint Forces Command.
Gen. Odierno joined other high-ranking military and civilian officials offering nontraditional glimpses of the future at Joint Warfighting 2011, held May 10-12 in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
When it comes to the transition from command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) systems to cloud computing architectures, both the challenge—and the promise—boil down to “getting the right information to the right individual at the right time and doing it securely.”
Gen. Keith Alexander, USA, director of the National Security Agency and commander of U.S. Cyber Command, is calling for greater international cooperation on cyber defense. “We don’t have a U.S. network, a Canadian network, a Mexican network. It’s all one network. We all operate that, and we have to have international partners to protect it,” Gen. Alexander emphasized.
The dynamic environment that defines trends from social development to technology innovation is wreaking havoc on attempts to plan an effective national security structure. Coupled with severe budget limitations arising from the global economic crisis, this rapidly changing milieu is revolutionizing warfighting in ways that cannot be countered—or even predicted—on short notice.
Cyberspace concerns extend throughout the Asia-Pacific region, and they increasingly are playing key roles in how nations define security—and threats. Traditional area geopolitical rivalries are enhanced by the potential for cyberoperations, and nations once secure behind rugged borders or vast bodies of water now face potential threats to their national infrastructure through a realm that knows no borders.