GIG 2.0 Provides Framework for One Global Network

March 4, 2009
By Henry Kenyon

Vice Adm. Nancy Brown, USN, director, J6, The Joint Staff, provided an overview of Global Information Grid (GIG) 2.0, an effort to reduce barriers to information sharing. With cyber now an official warfighting domain, the military has to figure out how to navigate in that domain where networks are platforms and information is a payload. Adm. Brown says there are too many networks and GIG 2.0 is a framework to bring together service intranets to act as one global network.

GIG 2.0 has five characteristics that the admiral outlined in her presentation: global authentication, access control and directory services; unity of command; information and services "from the edge"; joint infrastructure; and common policies and standards. The tactical edge is in the center of the framework because GIG 2.0 is being developed to provide capability to the troops on the ground.

Adm. Brown specifically addressed GIG 2.0's application to U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command, both headquartered in Tampa, saying that it will reduce the number of networks necessary to conduct business and build trust among partners. She also gave an example of Web 2.0 efforts underway in her own division. The J6 has established a wiki for its Weekly Activity Report, allowing interested parties to see the information as it becomes available and reducing e-mails in the division by 50 percent.

In her final thoughts, Adm. Brown said, "We learned we can't fight counterinsurgency from garrison." Nor can the military succeed in the 2.0 world if networks are surrounded with security. Instead, it needs to embrace the new tools and figure out how to protect the information that needs to be protected.

Share Your Thoughts:

I hope this GIG 2.0 thing works and that the Services will be forced to play along and stop developing their own mini GIGs. And while we're at it, can we make certain that GIG 2.0 will interoperable with (or the data that resides there is at least discoverable by) the Intelligence Community and the rest of the National Security community?

While it appears the GIG 2.0 is a framework capable of bringing together service intranets, reducing the number of networks necessary to conduct business, and building trust among partners; what is being done to conduct business and build trust outside the services?

The visual of the "...tactical edge is in the center of the framework..." creates an image of troops and others surrounded by a powerful wall of information bearing down on them. It still seems there is a huge barrier between the the services and non-military partners working with them. To meet tactical realities, entities outside the wall must be able to contribute to the information in the wall and obtain relevant and timely information from the tactical edge. What efforts are underway to make this easy without having to deploy expensive seats or purchase and configure technology when circumstances limit these activities?

How does the GIG 2.0 reduce barriers between military and non-military (first responders, NGOs, vendors, and so on) partners during disaster response and recovery activities like Katrina or the tsunami? Will the GIG support information sharing between troops and civilian contributors in forward areas?

Collaborative training events like Golden Phoenix 2008 show there are still several major hurdles to effective communication outside the DoD defined infrastructure. Identification, adoption, and integration of a few common and widely available protocols (SMS, XMPP, and others) would provide a built in interoperability capability. Appropriate policies and training could then prepare military and non-military entities to succeed in cross-domain communications during notional and real collaborative response. Regular practice would feed the development and revision of procedures which could be widely disseminated to first responders, industry partners, and NGOs.


@Preston, I agree with you, and I count first responders et. al. as part of the National Security community I mentioned in my previous comment.

I saw an article today ( that brings my previous point home. An excerpt says, "Navy officials want to adopt Web 2.0 tools such as Facebook and Wikipedia, but they will likely deploy their own versions of those technologies, said Robert Carey, the Navy Department's chief information officer. For example, the Navy's Office of the General Counsel (OGC) deployed a Facebook-like application on its private network to give legal teams a way to collaborate."

By doing stuff like this, the Navy limits their own knowledge base by eliminating the possibility for crowdsourcing. The more people that can access your wiki, the more people will improve the content there. And as far as Facebook for lawyers goes, I'm sure other JAGs in other Services have similar issues and that having a Facebook-like application for DoD lawyers, National Security lawyers, or even all Federal Lawyers, could be very beneficial to all.

If we had one *giant* Facebook for the whole GIG, you wouldn't be limited to who you could connect to or form groups with. Just as we have groups for both Gov 2.0 and a more narrow Defense 2.0, a GIG Facebook could offer various levels of crowdsourcing, as well as the opportunity for cross-pollenation among friends of friends of friends.

I hope I'm making sense. And I hope that someday I'll be able to get off of my seamless GIG soapbox and just lose myself in collaboration with EVERYBODY.

Share Your Thoughts: