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.
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.
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remain the same, the technologies that depend on them have advanced, and innovation can no longer be supported by outdated and ineffective infrastructure.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The U.S. Air Force Space Command is helping the service put its joint modernization plans into place. As the command responsible for handling cyberspace, communications and information missions, it is the Air Force’s instrument in meeting major Defense Department technology goals, such as establishing the Joint Information Environment.
It’s impossible these days to attend a U.S. Defense Department information technology presentation without repeated mentions of the Joint Information Environment (JIE). But industry representatives often ask, “What does JIE mean to me?” I did some digging into the environment—leveraging the expertise of the AFCEA Technology Committee, discussions with several senior defense information technology leaders and insights from colleagues at my firm who participated in JIE Increment 1 in Europe.