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Event Coverage

JIE Moves Boldly Forward

September 12, 2013
By Rita Boland

The Joint Information Environment (JIE) is well on its way to becoming a pervasive reality for the U.S. Armed Services and its coalition partners. The version at U.S. European Command reached initial operational capability on July 31, and the Army now has 1.5 million users on enterprise email, a key service under the environment.
 
Today at TechNet Augusta, Lt. Gen. Mark S. Bowman, J6 of the Joint Staff, said that the JIE is necessary because of real problems that exist in current environments. The foundation of the new capability is a single security architecture. Though the effort began as a measure to increase efficiencies, the military now realizes it offers much more, the general explained. Over time, the various services, commands and agencies created their own information technology. “That didn’t help us a ton on the battlefield,” Gen. Bowman said. The JIE will provide a unified enterprise for everyone, including mission partners.
 
Industry will be essential to ensuring that evolving capabilities are integrated as appropriate. “There’s no single answer,” Gen. Bowman explained. “The JIE is not static.” It also is far-reaching, intended for use at all echelons in all operating environments.  Gen. Bowman said everyone will join the new plan, though not in the same way. He compared the JIE services to a menu. Users eventually will have all the items, but not at the same time or in the same order. Earlier this month, the Defense Department Chief Information Officer Teri Takai directed that all department members will migrate to enterprise email. Organizations must submit plans within 120 days.
 

What Sequestration Means to Army Materiel

September 11, 2013
By Rita Boland

“No other field has changed so completely, so rapidly as signals has in the last 10 years,” Gen. Dennis Via, USA, commander, U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC), said during TechNet Augusta on Wednesday. During his address, he asked the Army’s communications community to help his organization provide the capabilities soldiers will need even as sequestration makes providing them more difficult. Senior leaders should worry about the budget, leaving soldiers in the field to worry about coming home safely.

As U.S. involvement in Afghanistan comes to an end, the Army is resetting and establishing itself to be ready for the next contingency operation. The AMC is taking on new roles and responsibilities, making adjustments as necessary to play its part in the changes. The command is expanding its Enhanced Army Global Logistics Enterprise (EAGLE) effort for motors. Previously, only the Reserves had the program, according to Gen. Via, but within the month it should be available at forts Benning, Campbell and Gordon as well as Redstone Arsenal. Even with budget reductions, the command is engaged in big spending. Of the $2.2 billion the Army spent on science and technology in the last year, the AMC executed $1.6 billion of it. There is $28 billion worth of equipment in Afghanistan, and the command is looking to bring $22 billion of it back to the United States.

The prospect of leaner funding is a big challenge. Gen. Via explained that leaders have tough decisions to make on money and personnel. The command is mandated to reduce its manning from 580,000 to 490,000 persons. “And we may go lower than that,” Gen. Via said. “We don’t know.” He added that any possible changes, including closing down AMC locations, are on the table as decision makers try to comply with sequestration.

In an interesting side note, Gen. Via is the only Army Signal Corps soldier to obtain the rank of four-star general.

The Future of the Army Is More About People Than Technology

September 11, 2013
By Rita Boland

As often happens when discussions focus on military technology, talk during the first day of TechNet Augusta 2013 zeroed in on people, not capabilities. Leaders today shared their ideas on human resources and how they would make all the difference modernizing the Army network during a time of lean budgets.

The Shape of the Cyberforce

September 10, 2013
By Rita Boland

As cyber becomes increasingly important to military operations, the personnel necessary to success in the field are a major focus of attention. Senior noncommissioned officers from all four branches of the U.S. military and the Army National Guard sat on a panel to today discussing this issue during TechNet Augusta.
 
These leaders addressed the issue with training up cyberwarriors over a year or more, only to lose them quickly to other internal organizations or to the private sector. The Navy’s representative, Senior Petty Officer Nathan Maleu, said he is in favor of longer terms for sailors in the cyberfield and in fact would like to see that across the military as long as the term periods do not negatively impact careers. He also commented on group efforts stating “I’m really happy we’re standing up service cyber teams,” but he would like to see a more aggressive approach to standing up joint cyber teams. Air Force representative Master Sgt. Lonnie Becnel shared that the Air Force actively is working to extend tours. Another concern in his service is trying to find the people to become members of cyberteams. A lack of strong assessment tools makes it hard to know who really is qualified.
 
The Army National Guard is looking at how to recruit soldiers now and keep them through 2030 and beyond. The active Army and Marine Corps representatives expressed sentiments similar to their colleagues. However, Master Gunnery Sgt. Adam Bethard, USMC, noted that the Marine Corps has no  cyber career field. Rather, current career fields will receive more cybertraining. 

Evolutions Under Way in Army Signals

September 10, 2013
By Rita Boland

One particular issue keeps Maj. Gen. LaWarren Patterson, USA, up at night—materiel. Gen. Patterson is the commanding general of the U.S. Army Signal Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon, Georgia, and shared his concerns during AFCEA International’s TechNet Augusta on Tuesday.

“I think what we’re doing at the NIE is phenomenal,” the general stated. The NIE is the Network Integration Evaluation, a twice yearly exercise that test new technologies for the Army. “Here’s my concern—it’s too damn complex,” Gen. Patterson added. The opinion is not just his own. He has heard it from many soldiers at all levels. “You need a Ph.D. to turn some of this [stuff] on,” the general explained. Troops have too much to do to have to push multiple buttons to communicate or even turn on a device.

Young soldiers were a topic throughout the general’s presentation, during which he walked the audience through what his organizations are doing in regard to the doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel and facilities, or DOTMLPF, spectrum. He pointed out that youth today will not accept education that consists of multiple PowerPoint demonstrations. Therefore, trainers must adjust to be more collaborative. New soldiers and officers also expect technology. Facilities at Fort Gordon are making that difficult, because they are outdated. Gen. Patterson shared his frustrations trying to train 21st century soldiers with obsolete equipment and infrastructure. The general reaches out to young soldiers when opportunities arise. For example, he and members of his leadership team had avatars of themselves created and placed into a video that introduces newcomers to Fort Gordon.

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.

Cyber Threats Abound, but Their Effects Are Not Certain

July 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Protecting the nation from cyber attack entails deterring or preventing marauders from carrying out their malevolent plans. But, while government and the private sector endeavor to fight the menace jointly, evildoers constantly change their approaches and learn new ways of striking at vulnerable points. So many variables have entered the equation that even the likelihood of attacks—along with their effects—is uncertain.
 

SCADA Systems Face Diverse Software Attack Threats

July 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems face numerous threats from cybermarauders coming at them from any of a number of directions. Some systems could suffer malware attacks even though they are not the intended targets, according to a leading security expert.

Cyber Sabotage Attacks the Century’s Worst Innovation

July 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

One of the world’s leading experts on cybersecurity calls cyber sabotage attacks “the worst innovation of this century.” Cyberweapons have become too dangerous, and cyberattack can lead to visible and important damage to the critical infrastructure or telecommunications. And, attribution is almost impossible.

Democracy Is Doomed Without Effective Digital Identification

July 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Democracy has only 20 years left to live if an effective means of digital identification is not developed before that deadline. As young people growing up with social media reach voting age in increasing numbers, they will lead a major shift to online voting. A lack of identity security will throw open the gates to massive voter fraud that will destroy the fidelity of elections, and with it, true representative government.

That gloomy assessment came from one the world’s leading experts on cybersecurity. Speaking at the AFCEA Global Intelligence Forum in the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Eugene Kaspersky, chief executive officer and co-founder of Kaspersky Lab, warned that this will be a consequence of the failure to secure the Internet.

“Kids today are always online,” he pointed out. “They will want to vote online. We need a 100-percent, biometric-based digital identification card.”

Issuing this type of identification will help secure the Internet if it is restructured, Kaspersky continued. He suggested splitting the Internet into different components: One would be highly secure, where financial transactions would take place, and another would be totally open for noncrucial activities with no identification required. Other segments with varying degrees of importance and security would be located in between these two extremes, he offered.

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