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.
"Smart Defence" is a NATO concept and policy that involves national burden-sharing on a broad range of developments, including information technology and cybersecurity. The European Union has a parallel initiative called Pooling and Sharing, and it similarly is aimed at sharing the cost of critical infrastructure. All of this, of course, is driven by the need to modernize, coupled with the global economic crisis, which has reduced defense and security budgets dramatically.
At the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Mission Partner Conference in Tampa, Florida, last month, the discussion focused on the enterprise and jointness and coalition. If it did not cause attendees to have an epiphany, it certainly should have triggered a re-awareness.
The command, control, communications and computers (C4) technology community has undergone a great deal of change over the past couple of years. The U.S. Cyber Command and the military services’ cyber component commands were created, the Joint Forces Command was disbanded, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration (ASD NII) transformed to become the Office of the Defense Chief Information Officer (CIO), the J-6 (C4) on the Joint Staff was eliminated, and the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has changed significantly. All of these modifications have resulted in adjustments to priorities, shifts of mission and more focus on the enterprise.
I joined the U.S. Army in 1968. Having been trained as a Signal officer, I went to the field in the early 1970s with maps in hand, and I used acetate and grease pencils to prepare overlays for troop movements, command post and signal site locations, and the ever-important radio line-of-sight calculations. One of the greatest technology developments of the time was the marking pen—we got rid of grease pencils and we had color!
Cyber threats draw much of the focus in today’s information technology realm. The threat profile in cyberspace is growing and becoming more complex, more sophisticated and more diverse.
I don’t think anyone would argue with my notion that we live in a dangerous world and that, no matter where you live, there are significant threats to national and regional security.
For most of the economies in the world, 2012 should continue to be a recovery year. This will prolong the pressure placed on budgets in defense, intelligence and homeland security. In the command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) and information technology business—our focus—budget cuts often are not as great as in other sectors. However, the price is that expectations are high for information-driven savings that can be applied to reductions in the out years.
The concept and practice of cyber operations are topics of considerable discussion. I thought about what I could add to this dialogue, and I came down on the side of making one more case for a comprehensive, holistic view of cyber.
Government information technology is an area rife with issues for discussion. These include enterprise initiatives, mobile computing, the cloud in all its forms, cybersecurity and many more. However, one activity is the key to making all government information technology useful and secure: the common operating environment.
In a recent Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, Vivek Kundra, former federal chief information officer, made the point that in order to maximize effectiveness and efficiency in information technology (IT), the federal government and supporting industry need to leverage cloud technology and virtualization.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is putting the finishing touches on planning and is beginning the transition to the most profound restructuring in its history. Wherever they are based, all who work with NATO will be affected by this restructuring. NATO headquarters staff is being reduced by as much as 40 percent. NATO agencies are being reduced from 13 to three. The force structure is being enhanced, but the command and control elements of the force structure are being streamlined to make NATO more responsive.
Your association continues to move forward in what is proving to be an exciting and dynamic era, and these efforts include personnel changes. In an important step, AFCEA has just added two new members to the executive team who are going to benefit all of you.
The world may be on the cusp of Web 3.0. Some of us digital immigrants still are trying to get our arms around Web 2.0. We have been told that Web 2.0 is all about information sharing. Applications, storage and data are Web-enabled. Virtualization has made information easier to use and share. Social networking has created whole new environments for information sharing.
The global security community has never had a greater need for training and education—or needed more help.