Experts Share Critical Operations Insight

August 2002
By Maryann Lawlor, Henry S. Kenyon, Robert K. Ackerman, Tanya S. Alexander
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While weaving the thread of homeland security throughout the panel discussions at TechNet International 2002, speakers also expressed candid views about the problems that must be solved to make the best use of today’s technical capabilities. Topics included network-centric warfare, biometrics, smart cards and emergency communications.

Donald L. Zimmerman, chief executive officer, Synergy Incorporated, moderated a panel that discussed how technology can support homeland security. Presenters agreed that many of the required technical solutions are available; however, the government must acquire them then integrate them within many agencies.

Dr. Alan H. Harbitter, chief technology officer, PEC Solutions Incorporated, illuminated this idea, pointing out that law enforcement and intelligence agencies share several goals in both integrated technology and justice. “The information sharing problem goes deeper than the Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI] and the Central Intelligence Agency [CIA] because there is a lot of information at the state and local levels. Organizational structures don’t support information sharing on a national basis,” he said.

Although solutions to information security exist, panelists agreed that several problems must be overcome before appropriate technologies are deployed. The lack of funding, standardization in language, and databases for biometric authentication continue to challenge the integration of these solutions, they concurred.

Panelist Dr. Eileen M. Preisser, chief of science and technology, Office of Homeland Security, shared that certain technical capabilities were identified as critical between September and November 2001. Among these were operational and tactical command and control, integrated knowledge management, early warning systems, information security, and education and training. A significant leap ahead is required in these areas, she stated.

Ronald B. Richard, member of the business advisory board, In-Q-Tel Incorporated, outlined how the CIA, working with venture capitalists, is investing in projects that show promise. In-Q-Tel is an incorporated spinoff of the agency and contributes some of the funding, which it recovers if a technology is successful. These funds can then be reinvested in new projects, he explained. Among the technologies the firm is interested in are those addressing information management, foreign language translation, geospatial information and the integration of data with security and technical problems.

Tuesday afternoon’s panel, moderated by Paul Brubaker, chief executive officer, Aquilent, discussed approaches to the implementation of network-centric warfare.

Maj. Gen. Steven W. Boutelle, USA, director of information operations, networks and space, Office of the Director of Information for Command, Control, Communications and Computers (C4), offered that the tools that allow network-centric operations are in the battlefield, but it is now time to go to the next level. Although it is possible to deliver information to soldiers, management is needed so that it is data that supports decision making and action. Network-centric communications is taking place on the ground and is moving to the air. The next step is to move it to satellites, he added.

Maj. Gen. Charles E. Croom Jr., USAF, vice director for C4 systems, the Joint Staff, said the first objective in achieving network-centric warfare is to get the right information to the right person at the right time. Industry tools have helped the military accomplish this goal, so it is now time to move to providing the information-sharing capability. “Network-centric warfare is about connecting the dots. The soldier will be connected, and he will be a sensor. Every player will be collecting, moving and sharing information,” he stated. Interoperability continues to be a roadblock to achieving this goal, he added.

Increasing the speed of decision making so that decisions are made infinitely faster than an enemy can respond is one of the benefits of network-centric warfare, said Maj. Gen. David J. Kelley, USA (Ret.). The general, who is now the vice president of information operations at Lockheed Martin Mission Systems, pointed out that while average people use cellular telephones and pagers to share information quickly, it still can take hours or days for intelligence agencies to share data.

Richard Rosenburg, program executive, Navy/Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI), Information Strike Force, EDS, explained how NMCI is supporting network-centric warfare. The intranet will facilitate connectivity between land and sea assets so that communications will be seamless. In addition, NMCI is standardizing systems so that all organizations will be able to use them. Because the intranet is replacing several hundred individual systems, information security will be more manageable, Rosenburg said.

Wednesday morning panelists discussed the need for biometrics applications and the steps commercial and government organizations are taking to implement these technologies. Dr. Joseph Atick, president and chief executive officer, Visionics Corporation, noted that although biometrics is central to homeland security, it is unnecessary to re-engineer existing security systems radically because a biometrics-based framework is already in place, albeit on a small scale. An important goal is to develop a platform for interoperability between systems and technologies, he said.

Lt. Gen. Peter Cuviello, USA, chief information officer and director of information systems for C4, Office of the Secretary of the Army, discussed the U.S. Defense Department’s biometrics management program, outlining efforts to develop and fully deploy a biometrics-based enterprise solution across the department by 2005. Key issues that must be addressed are standards and architecture, technology insertion into existing systems, communications capability, response time, retooling existing hardware, middleware, and security and privacy of an individual’s data. The general noted that the Defense Department’s common access card is being tested for biometric applications such as built-in fingerprint readers.

Catherine Tilton, special projects director, SAFLINK Corporation, outlined trends in biometrics standards. She discussed efforts by the BioAPI Consortium to get various U.S. and international biometrics organizations to share information. These groups have already shown success with the adoption of standards such as BioAPI, which permits software applications to communicate with each other. By opening these channels, a range of biometric technologies can interoperate. The American National Standards Institute has approved the standard, she said.

During Wednesday afternoon’s panel, issues surrounding the rollout of smart cards throughout U.S. government agencies were discussed. Randy Vanderhoof, chief executive officer, Smart Card Alliance, described how the cards are interwoven into government e-commerce initiatives. He noted that card readers for personal computers are becoming more common, as is their use by Fortune 1000 companies, banks and telephone companies. Vanderhoof predicted that government and private sector organizations will begin adopting multifunction smart cards in the near future.

Jim Zok, co-chairman, Credentialing Action Group, U.S. Department of Transportation, highlighted the agency’s efforts to create a standardized credential that is recognized across the organization and provides varying levels of security. However, policy issues still remain such as access to data, privacy, cost sharing and background investigation data results. Zok noted that a number of entities in the United States and overseas are involved in efforts to create smart cards for maritime and transportation workers.

Smart card technology is changing how the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy conduct their business. Lt. Col. Greta Lehman, USA, program manager, U.S. Army Secure Electronic Transaction-Device Office, explained that some 9,000 common access cards (CACs) are issued weekly. These cards provide an added layer of security for Army facilities and computer networks, she said. David Wennergren, deputy chief information officer for enterprise integration and security, Department of the Navy, Smart Card Senior Coordinating Group, added that CACs can be used with wireless devices to conduct secure transactions and the service is seeking additional technologies such as biometrics to place on its cards.

Emergency communications and infrastructure reconstitution amid disaster was the topic of Thursday’s panel session. Panel moderator Brenton Greene, deputy manager of the National Communications System (NCS), began the discussion with a description of how telecommunications were restored in New York following the September 11 attacks.

Telecommunications companies performed the bulk of the work reconstituting service in New York, and the NCS helped coordinate their efforts. This was a far cry from the task originally envisioned for the NCS when its mission was defined after the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. “It was easier during the Cold War—all you had to do was pick up the telephone and call AT&T,” Greene said.

Describing AT&T’s efforts on September 11 was Dr. Arthur G. Deacon, vice president, AT&T network operations, service assurance and chief compliance officer. Deacon related that the company put its network into a lock-down mode—the highest security level—even before the second aircraft hit the World Trade Center. The network was run “in a very militaristic C2 nature” from the company’s global operations center in New Jersey.

The company deployed an emergency communications vehicle to Manhattan to provide the police with 44 voice lines via satellite. Within 48 hours, the company established mobile warehouse capabilities by tapping into a major national fiber optic cable. The local service interruptions in Manhattan were accompanied by a tsunami of calls nationwide. AT&T recorded more than 430 million calls on that day alone, which was 100 million more than the previous record.

Paul Kurtz of the White House Office of Cybersecurity warned that “the information infrastructure is our national nervous system,” and other adversaries have taken note of the economic impact of the terrorist attacks. During his presentation, he outlined four key points. Information networks were not designed with security in mind, so the United States is now busy plugging holes. In addition, the infonetwork will never be secure, and there is no silver bullet solution to security. Finally, he stated that government does not hold the answers to security—the private sector has the majority of the solutions.

Royce Kincaid, program manager for homeland defense-wireless networks, Northrop Grumman Information Technology, suggested one solution. Kincaid outlined a proposed high-speed wireless network employing fourth-generation technology with a transmission rate of 1 megabit per second. The Internet protocol-based system would require 10 megahertz of spectrum to support five million users nationwide.

The conference also featured a series of panels presented by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). Running the length of the conference, numerous panels dealt with issues such as transformation; global, secure, interoperable communications for the Defense Department; new initiatives in joint command and control capabilities; and DISA’s acquisition transformation.

In addition, the conference included a special session for small businesses. “We want to leverage both your and our knowledge, capabilities and expertise as we refocus on homeland security,” said William Washington, director of program development, Lockheed Martin Corporate Business Development, to a packed audience of small business owners. Washington was one of a panel of program executives from Lockheed Martin, the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM) and DISA who discussed opportunities for small business contracts and subcontracts within their organizations. Small business advocates from these organizations as well as EDS and the U.S. departments of Commerce, State and Veteran Affairs offered one-on-one counseling sessions after the meeting.

Emphasizing the importance of industry’s efforts to help the services meet the challenges of homeland defense, Washington invited small business owners to contribute to the work being done to protect the nation after September 11 and encouraged them to be creative in obtaining opportunities. “Don’t just look at hardware but at software development and support services opportunities,” he added.

Joseph P. Brady, chief, Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization Office, U.S. Army CECOM, told the enthusiastic group of business owners that his staff is trying to grow CECOM’s small business industrial base. Last year, CECOM conducted $700 million in business with small firms. Brady said he hopes to double that number within four to five years and is working toward a goal of $1 billion in small business contracts by 2009. He said that the office is especially interested in improving these numbers for women- and veteran-owned businesses, noting the “taking it to the streets” campaign in which he visits companies to see what they have to offer.

“Past performance is critical,” Col. Dean Allred, USAF, deputy director for acquisitions, logistics and facilities, DISA, emphasized to the audience. Col. Allred spelled out a list of contracting opportunities for audience members as well as distributed a disk containing a catalog of open contracts.