The United States acknowledged a long-evolving trend when it initiated the strategic rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region. For many years we have needed to place increased emphasis on that vast and dynamic area, and the rebalance has set a course for that important goal. But we are in danger of losing the benefits of the pivot to the Pacific in several ways.
A key challenge to building a new tactical technology acquisition model is that it requires carefully identifying and prioritizing requirements, as well as staying engaged with the acquisition arm of government throughout the acquisition process. Carefully defining an operational requirement—not the end technical solution—allows industry to develop and provide the most effective solution. Industry has a strong economic impetus to provide the capability that the operating forces require.
Despite the various associated national security and economic issues emerging worldwide, this can be a time of opportunity. Major challenges often compel bold steps and creative thought, which is why opportunity defines our future.
Virtualization and cloud implementation are critical components of information technology planning, acquisition and management going forward. Cloud implementations are important to security, efficiency, effectiveness, cost savings and more pervasive information sharing, particularly among enterprises.
The world may be more dangerous today than in any period in history. Threats are widespread and diverse. It no longer is enough to watch nation-states. In this period of asymmetric warfare, with the addition of the cyberthreat, almost anyone can become a threat to national security. In this dangerous world, the value of intelligence has risen, and the tools and means of intelligence must be richer than in the past.
Anyone following the progress of the Joint Information Environment (JIE) knows by now that it is not a program of record. No one will see large procurements to provide the JIE. It definitely is a framework: it defines standards and architectures for consistency across the defense environment. It defines a core environment and interfaces for the connection of networks and systems to the core.
Open source intelligence, which is gained from the public domain, is certainly not new. Intelligence professionals have used open sources as long as intelligence has been gathered and utilized. So what is different today? Why is open source intelligence (OSINT) getting more attention and the commitment of more resources?
Even though the Cold War has ended and the monolithic threat against the West has disappeared, the relationship between Europe and the United States remains vital. Europe includes some of the United States’ strongest coalition partners and alliances; the two economies are closely tied and interdependent; and defense and security in Europe are evolving rapidly, just as in the United States. AFCEA chapters and members outside the United States number the greatest in Europe.
This rarely happens, but for 2014, defense and technology analysts are in agreement that big data and cybersecurity are the two drivers in planning and investment for information technology, both in government and in industry. Most everything else will be enabling these two key capabilities. While much attention has been focused on the threats and work being done globally on cybersecurity, I want to focus on big data.
Big data is critical because, unless it is collected, analyzed, managed and made ubiquitously available, many analysts and decision makers will be buried in information they cannot use effectively in a timely fashion. It also is the starting and ending point for many of the technologies and capabilities we care about: networks, data centers, cloud initiatives, storage, search, analytics and secure access
Naval forces represent the ultimate projection capability for the United States. This important capability creates some unique requirements and constraints in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) support to the Navy and Marine Corps. The expeditionary nature of these forces drives two distinctive aspects of naval ISR.
In the most recent U.S. defense guidance of January 2012, signed for emphasis by both the president and the secretary of defense, cyber was one of the few areas that received both emphasis and increased funding—no small feat in the current budget environment. Part of that emphasis and increased funding goes to the intelligence community to support the cyber domain. Such support requires an expansion of the intelligence mission set, new processes and tools, and new interfaces to the operational community now emerging to command and control the cyber domain.
Do you ever find yourself trying to reconcile with your environment? That is where I am now with regard to national security and reaction to leaks and programs designed to protect against terrorist threats.
In 2010, Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks organization got themselves on the world stage by publishing large volumes of classified documents, many provided by Pfc. Bradley Manning, USA, an intelligence analyst. At that time, and since, both Assange and Manning have been held up as villains by some and as heroes and whistle-blowers by others.
This time it is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that has demonstrated bad judgment and lack of a full understanding of the rules governing large meetings. The revelation of extravagant IRS spending on meetings follows similar issues with the General Services Administration and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This waste shines a light on bad judgment for sure—but it also reveals a larger problem. For the most part, government personnel who are planning and coordinating government-run events do not do this as their primary function.
Those of us who have been involved with government information technology (IT) for some time clearly remember the many efforts to improve IT acquisition. All certainly remember Vivek Kundra’s IT Management Reform Program, the 25-point plan. Most would agree that progress has been made, but some would argue—correctly I believe—that work remains to be done.
Homeland Security and the global effort against terrorism are incredibly complex activities. The organizations and individuals are just as complex. The homeland security establishment in the United States—as the collection of government agencies at the federal, state, local and tribal levels and the affected industries are referred to—numbers in the thousands of entities.
When you travel, as we all do, how many paper books, magazines and newspapers do you see on the plane or train these days? If your experience is like mine, the answer is, “not many.” Those few publications that are not available in digital form give you no other option, but many people now are opting for digital formats they can use on their mobile device of choice. Personally, I love my iPad and my iPhone, and I read everything I can on those two devices. I take them everywhere.
In our professional lives, most of us have not seen an economic environment or a budget climate such as those we face today. We are approaching the ramp-down of the longest period of continuous conflict in U.S. and allied history. Technology is changing at an unprecedented pace, and to help address budget declines, we are relying on some of these technological advances—enterprise networking and service approaches, cloud computing, data center consolidation, more effective cybersecurity and better use of mobility solutions. The U.S.
Since the U.S. General Services Administration scandal over a training conference in Las Vegas, reinforced by concerns regarding two expensive Department of Veterans Affairs conferences, fear has spread across government and industry that government-related conferences are now a thing of the past. This is just not the case—nor should it be.
Security has become all the more important at the user level. Verifying the validity of an individual’s access to a network is vital to preventing cybermarauders from getting into a system to purloin or sabotage important information. Biometrics can play a key role in identity management, particularly in cross-enterprise implementations.
As I write this, we are experiencing some nearly unprecedented oppressive weather in the Washington area. About one week ago, we had a series of violent thunderstorms that caused extensive damage and knocked out power to more than 1.5 million electrical customers—comprising millions of people—in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Many communications systems also failed, either because of damaged infrastructure or loss of power. This includes telephone, cable and cellular systems along with their accompanying processing and switching facilities. Credit and debit cards, along with ATM cards, were useless in many places just when people needed them to buy vital goods for surviving the blackout. More seriously, the 911 emergency call system ceased to function in areas where it was needed the most. And, in some locations, potable water was a problem because power was lacking for pumps and water treatment.