A unique exchange program permits government and private sector organizations to exchange high-tech workers. The goal of the Information Technology Exchange Program (ITEP) is to provide both sectors with an opportunity to share best practices and to better understand each other’s operating practices and hurdles.
A remarkable young Marine officer named Maj. Douglas A. Zembiec was killed in action on May 11, 2007, during his fourth tour in Iraq. What makes his story so compelling is not the fact that he was referred to as the "Lion of Fallujah" as a result of heroic actions during operation Vigilant Resolve in 2004 or as an "unapologetic warrior" featured in a Los Angeles Times interview three years ago. He was remarkable because his life and untimely death are emblematic of the men and women who serve our nation selflessly, without hesitation, quietly volunteering as Maj. Zembiec had done. How can each of us, from the comfort and security of home, meaningfully contribute to the common good of our nation?
The extensive thrust to Web services in the military is raising as many issues as promised new capabilities. The broad-based effort is complicated by nations' differing approaches as well as by the rapid changes that characterize the 21st century Web.
Views about sharing and retaining classified and sensitive information are changing as the U.S. government pushes to become more network centric. A recent gathering of information technology professionals found that although many technical hurdles remain to providing enterprise-level services across large organizations, the primary challenge is cultural.
Steve Gaffney vividly recalls the day he literally got a whack upside the head that gave him a lifelong lesson in success—one that would come in handy this year.
The U.S. Department of Defense Intelligence Information System has completed phase one of a multiyear effort to transform into a more agile enterprise. This global information technology enterprise, led by the Defense Intelligence Agency, serves both analysts and warfighters and provides the backbone of intelligence technology for the Defense Department, combatant commands, the services and many other elements of the national security community. The transformation effort has enhanced the ability of the entire defense intelligence enterprise to serve the mission needs of the military.
This crude but highly effective approach might be just what U.S. federal information technology officials need. Those charged with managing the government's information technology networks—its vital nervous system—should remind themselves, "It's the architecture!" The present paradigm is hopelessly insecure and inefficient. No amount of federal largesse invested in the U.S. government's current Web-based architecture will ever take the nation where it needs to be. As the old Yankee once told the bewildered New York tourist seeking directions to Kennebunkport, Maine, "You can't get there from here."
A prototype software security application encases data in an encrypted intelligent shell, allowing only an intended recipient to access the material. This software could permit warfighters, intelligence analysts and citizens to share information anonymously across the Internet and popular social networking Web sites. Users will be able to create online communities to communicate with other vetted individuals.
The U.S. Defense Department has established an identification authentication network between itself and private industry. The worldwide, federated system will protect physical access to military and secure locations while maintaining personnel privacy. The network ultimately will be used for logical access as well.
The U.S. military is moving its cryptographic capabilities into the 21st century with a major program to replace and upgrade legacy equipment and systems. The multiyear effort is introducing new algorithms designed to enhance interoperability and information sharing across the services and coalition allies. It also focuses on educating military customers about new technologies and coordinating with firms to include cryptographic systems in communications and computer systems.
A new report grades the graders as computer security officers share how federal guidance and reporting are affecting their organizations. Many believe the regulations have improved their organizations' safety measures, but there is a disparity of opinion about effectiveness, and some contend that funding should be tied to the process.
The commander of national cybersecurity has issued a call to arms to both private-sector and government organizations in the battle against cunning adversaries bent on wreaking havoc on U.S. critical infrastructures. During the past year, many sector-specific government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, have been working hand-in-glove with their industry counterparts to draft specific battle plans. Among the top priorities in the telecommunications and information technology sectors is conducting a national vulnerability assessment of all infrastructure. Similar plans also were designed for the other 15 component sectors covered by the department's National Infrastructure Protection Plan.
The U.S. Air Force seeks to dominate networked warfare through a new command specializing in cyberspace operations. The organization will enable U.S. strategic efforts by providing a variety of services and capabilities from information assurance and network security to intelligence gathering and defensive and offensive cyber activities.
A revamped tool integrates satellite and Global Positioning System communications to give commanders in the field improved situational awareness. It hosts Blue Force Tracking software and is designed to meet the needs of the dismounted user. The device will push resources formerly reserved for units with multiple vehicles to commanders and other individuals in light infantry units.
After several changes in course, the U.S. Army is back on track for modernization and digitization. World events and priority shifts compelled the service to reassess its trajectory to take better aim at these moving targets whose pace quickens with the introduction of each new technology. Although the sheer size of the force and scale of the job amplifies the challenges, Army leaders say the service is now on a flexible yet stable path that leads to successful network centricity in the long term.
The U.S. Army's revolution in communications and information systems is winding down, but the frenetic activity that defined it is being replaced by a steadier progress toward a fully networked force. The result is a focus on capabilities rather than on enabling technologies as the Army continues to extend the benefits of the network down to the warfighter.