Homeland Security Is a Critical Part Of the Defense and Security Fabric

February 2011
By Kent R. Schneider, SIGNAL Magazine

We are seeing a global trend to provide tighter coordination of defense, intelligence, and security planning and operations. In the United States, people refer to the security function as homeland security, while in other countries around the world this function is simply called security or internal security. In many nations, the law prohibits the integration of defense and security to minimize the use of military forces within the nation’s borders except under specific circumstances. But with the growth of the global terrorism threat and asymmetric warfare, the need to achieve synergies among these assets and the need to attend carefully to the seam between defense and security has become apparent to most.

Each year I communicate with senior leaders globally in defense, intelligence and homeland security, asking that they share their priorities and concerns so that AFCEA can adjust its programs over the next couple of years to address those priorities. While we are interested in all of their concerns, we ask them to focus their comments on command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) and information technology as it applies to their mission space. The responses for this year still are coming in, but two relevant priorities consistently are rising to the top of their lists. First is the concern that information sharing must occur on an interagency and coalition basis to be effective. Second is the primacy of cybersecurity as a priority along with the desire to work cybersecurity on a national or coalition basis.

The focus on promoting information sharing on an interagency and coalition basis is a natural byproduct of the need for coordination and collaboration among defense, intelligence and national security activities. A practical solution to this problem is the development of the Afghanistan Mission Network (AMN), operated by NATO to bring together all those forces and agencies supporting the war there (SIGNAL Magazine, January 2011, page 19). The AMN was developed because previous efforts to integrate the networks and systems of NATO and the nations and agencies engaged in Afghanistan had produced less than optimal results. This, of course, points to the larger problem: Specialized networks cannot be built everywhere. Information sharing has improved dramatically within enterprises, but we still are not as proficient in our ability to work across enterprise boundaries. That clearly needs to be a priority for everyone.

Our increased reliance on information systems and automated critical infrastructure, combined with the ever-increasing cyberthreat, has made cybersecurity an obvious top priority. There is also a growing understanding in every domain that cybersecurity is everyone’s problem. This extends to every part of government, to industry and academia, and to each individual user. That is why defense, intelligence and homeland security efforts in cybersecurity must be coordinated. Gen. Keith Alexander, USA, commander of the new U.S. Cyber Command, has stated publicly that one of his highest priorities is to build on the relationship with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the other agencies that support homeland security and counterterrorism (see page 18).

On the other side of that relationship, in response to my request for input on priorities, the Department of Homeland Security’s undersecretary for science and technology, Dr. Tara O’Toole, states that the recently released Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (www.dhs.gov/qhsr) outlines five homeland security mission areas, all of which are heavily dependent on effective communications. As a result, cybersecurity, one of these five mission areas, is a focus for science and technology initiatives in the department. Its cybersecurity priority program areas map very well to the concerns in defense and intelligence. They are: Internet infrastructure security; critical infrastructure/key resources; national research infrastructure; cyber forensics; homeland open security technology; identity management/data privacy; experimental deployments, outreach, education and competitions; next-generation technologies; and small business innovative research (SBIR).

Dr. O’Toole also says that she would like to have an interactive dialogue with AFCEA and its corporate members to further those efforts. Any of you who would like more information on these areas or wish to participate in the dialogue, please let me know.

The bottom line is that, at the most senior levels, the leadership of the defense, intelligence and homeland security communities is reaching out to each other to work information sharing and cybersecurity. We all need to be part of this effort. Engage with your national or local counterparts. If you are not sure where to start, let me know and I will help you get involved.

As always, thanks for all you do.


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