Coast Guard Rides Waves of Joint Information Environment

May 22, 2013
By Max Cacas

Within the next eight months, the U.S. Coast Guard is expected to move to the Defense Department’s enterprise email system, according to Rear Adm. Robert Day Jr., USCG, assistant commandant for command, control, communications, computers and information technology, and director, Coast Guard Cyber Command. The admiral gave the keynote address during the second day of the AFCEA SOLUTIONS Series – George Mason University Symposium, “Critical Issues in C4I.” Adm. Day related that even though moving to the Defense Department's enterprise email service may cost more initially in some cases, the long-term benefits to the service will mitigate and justify some of those costs.

In a similar vein, Adm. Day said he sees the Joint Information Environment (JIE) as an opportunity to resolve some of the most pressing information technology problems he faces in a future with more challenges and fewer resources. He said that the JIE will establish “enterprise-wide mandates that programs cannot ignore.”

Adm. Day said he believes the JIE will allow for more efficient system configurations and consolidation of the Coast Guard’s information technology work force. As the director of the Coast Guard Cyber Command, the admiral also is mindful that the JIE will improve his ability to control what devices are attached to the network, giving him the opportunity, for example, to stop an unauthorized USB thumb drive from being attached to a secure network computer, compromising operational security.

“Borrowing” a page from the U.S. Air Force, Adm. Day also noted that the Coast Guard is moving to the electronic flight bag, which provides the ability to put charts and other documents needed for aircraft in an Apple iPad tablet. He says doing so will save the costs of putting 300 pounds of paper in the air.

Adm. Day said that the JIE and innovation are not necessarily exclusive. He argues that with the implementation of a culture of standards, it will be possible to push new technologies across the entire service on a larger scale, allowing more people to share in the benefits of innovation.

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