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Defense Department's Massive JRSS Effort on Track to Deliver, Halvorsen Says

December 5, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The first wave of testing of the U.S. Defense Department’s joint regional security stacks now underway at military bases in Texas and Europe shows the hardware and software tasked with improved protection of the department’s network, expected to deliver unprecedented cyber situational awareness, is on track to deliver as anticipated, according to the department's acting chief information officer.

Guest Blog: How Modernizing the JIE Can Make It a Success

December 2, 2014
By Chris LaPoint

Two years ago, the Defense Department developed the Joint Information Environment framework. Since then, key stakeholders and drivers have worked to realign, restructure and modernize the department’s information technology networks to increase collaboration while reducing the cyberthreat landscape.

Guest Blog: The Network of Today

October 20, 2014
By Anthony Robbins

Network modernization is becoming a priority for defense agencies—and for good reason. Much of our defense network infrastructure was conceived 20 years ago and put into place almost a decade ago. While the networks remain the same, the technologies that depend on them have advanced, and innovation can no longer be supported by outdated and ineffective infrastructure.

DISA to Launch First Round of JRSS Network Upgrades

September 9, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The U.S. Defense Department is primed to take a first step toward the realization of JIE as it gears up information migration to the joint regional security stacks, or JRSS, a key upgrade to streamline and secure network operations.

Industry Needs Mobility in Technology and Processes

May 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

Successful JIE implementation will require industry to be agile in providing key capabilities, particularly mobile communications. Gen. Bowman says reliable secure wireless and mobile command and control are the most important technologies needed from industry. “We’re talking about command and control devices on a tablet or some other handheld device—as well as helping us through the security wickets,” he expresses. In the security realm, these devices come down to a risk-based decision; the department must ensure that the right people are taking the right risk with the right information, he maintains. This might entail less than a 100-percent secure solution, as long as the risk is acceptable to the user.

Gen. Hawkins emphasizes mobility is the key capability that DISA is focusing on with industry. He says this goes beyond mobility devices to include “all things mobile,” including how information is moved. Another focus area is unified capabilities tied to collaborative tools that are in use now. “I believe the next command and control tool will be some type of collaborative tool that industry’s going to deliver, and we will use that in much the same way that we have grown to use video teleconferencing, for example,” he imparts.

DeVries says industry should look at providing capabilities both from a technology perspective and as a licensing and funding issue. Industry should aim to provide these capabilities in a way that does not take five years of planning and three years of building, by which time the capability is obsolete and the customer wants something new.

And, industry needs to help the department move off what it has built over the past 20 years onto “something more agile and modularized in terms of what types of data I need, how do I store it and how do I transmit it—and with more lightweight applications that I can secure and innovate quickly and use on any kind of platform, mobile or very thin clients,” he says.

Military Services Join Forces on JIE—to an Extent

May 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The individual services are pursuing different aspects of JIE development in what planners hope will be a synergy of capability and expertise. However, not all the services are sold on the JIE approach.

Gen. Hawkins believes the services are working well in concert with DISA. The agency is working with them on the single security architecture, which he describes as “a piece of an enterprise-level capability.” Tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) must be tied to how security is handled at the enterprise level, and all the services are working through the JIE executive committee, in which DISA is a partner.

The Air Force is partnering well with the other services, Gen. Bowman allows, and that is benefitting domestic JIE implementation. He expects to see a single security architecture at Joint Base San Antonio two years ahead of schedule, in large part because of Air Force/Army JIE efforts there. The Air Force “is jumping on enterprise services,” he says.

The Army “is all in” with enterprise solutions and a single security architecture, Gen. Bowman continues. The service is looking at what is has to spend money on, and then it strives to fulfill JIE requirements.

The U.S. Marine Corps already is focusing on consolidating its networks into the Next Generation Enterprise Network, or NGEN (SIGNAL Magazine, August 2013, page 47, “Marines Set the Stage …”), and the Marine Corps Enterprise Information Technology Services (MCEITS) center offers many opportunities for hosting data for the JIE. Also, the Marine Corps Network Operations and Security Center will serve as a backup for the enterprise operations center in Europe.

Cultural Change Poses Greatest Hurdle for JIE Implementation

May 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

JIE leaders offer that the biggest impediment to its success is the cultural change the JIE is bringing to the Defense Department. DeVries describes the department as a very large organization with processes built into it over a long period of time for defining requirements and then coming up with a recommendation of how to meet those requirements. Traditionally, the focus has been on buying a system to satisfy those requirements, and the services often had their own unique needs and methods of operation. “That culture is changing, and now we have to get away from meeting requirements with systems and instead toward capabilities, which might be fulfilled by services, the changing of procedures or even capitalizing on what your neighbor has and scaling that up to use across a broader front,” DeVries says.

Gen. Bowman agrees that cultural difficulties are among the biggest hurdles to be overcome, and he cites the unwillingness of some to share the view of how the network is running. “We all know when it’s performing right or not right, but it would be nice to know when it’s looking like it’s going to go south and have people in different locations looking at it from their view.” Having this shared view would be the equivalent of having a group of sensors scattered across the enterprise providing updates.

Another flaw is the concept of network possession, which manifests itself in the control culture that afflicts many people and organizations. “We need to be able to share; we need to focus on whose core competency [something] is, and then let them do it,” Gen. Bowman states. “Senior leaders get it; it’s getting people to let go that is one of the biggest concerns.”

That effort can begin at the top. “We need to see a Joint Base Pentagon,” the general declares. “We don’t have it now. We have several help desks in the Pentagon, for example, and we need to collapse those and move them together.

Information Environment 
Logs Successes, 
Faces Snags

May 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The Defense Department drive toward its Joint Information Environment is picking up speed as it progresses toward its goal of assimilating military networks across the warfighting realm. Individual services are developing solutions, some of which are targeted for their own requirements, that are being applied to the overarching goal of linking the entire defense environment.

Early successes in Europe have advanced Joint Information Environment (JIE) efforts elsewhere, including the continental United States. Some activities have been accelerated as a result of lessons learned, and they have been implemented ahead of schedule in regions not slated to receive them for months or even years.

However, significant hurdles remain, and not all participants are equally supportive of the effort. Overcoming major cultural challenges may be the most difficult task facing JIE implementation. And, the omnipresent budget constraints facing the entire Defense Department may extend into the JIE, even though it is not officially a program of record.

Senior Defense Department leaders do not hesitate to emphasize the importance of the JIE to future military operations. David DeVries, deputy Defense Department chief information officer (CIO) for information enterprise, describes the JIE as a unifying effort to do “the largest wholesale information technology modernization in the history of the department.”

Lt. Gen. Ronnie D. Hawkins Jr., USAF, director, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), avows, “The next type of enterprise that our Defense Department will be postured to utilize in the next conflict—be it kinetic or nonkinetic—the JIE will be an integral part of that environment.”

Lightening the Workload for Cyber Command

April 3, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. military is moving to the Joint Information Environment (JIE) in part because the current architecture is too complex to be easily defended, Teri Takai, Defense Department chief information officer, said at the April 2 Security Through Innovation Summit, Washington, D.C.

Army Leads the Way in Defense Department Network Modernization

April 2, 2014
By Henry S. Kenyon

The U.S. Army is modernizing its computer networks to improve interoperability with the other services in today’s joint and coalition warfighting environment. A key part of this effort is collaborating with the Defense Department to help stand up the Joint Information Environment, which will provide commanders with a secure space to collaborate and share classified information, top Army officials said.


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