Interoperability And Security Challenge Asia-Pacific Leaders

February 2002
By Deborah Kern

Flexible coalition wide area networks, the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet, and miniaturized mobile wireless systems are key areas for successful warfighting, said military and industry leaders at the 16th annual TechNet Asia-Pacific conference in November. The three-day event, “Pacific Technology: Leading the Way in the Digital Future,” covered interoperability issues and new technologies. Top U.S. Defense Department leaders came to share their visions and describe their technical requirements for the future.

Adm. Dennis C. Blair, USN, commander in chief, U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), set the stage for the first day’s activities at the Commanders in Chief (CINCs) Breakfast. This year’s conference coincided with the Chiefs of Defense Conference, affording an opportunity for key military strategists from around the world to attend.

Adm. Blair shared that the Defense Department is looking for technologies that can plug and play as well as for enterprise solutions that can network all participants in an operation. “We should not have to re-train all of the operators when introducing a new system,” he added. “Its use should be intuitive based upon current systems.” Additionally, the admiral emphasized that the services operate via coalitions. “We should be able to release the technology to our security partners for particular missions and operations,” he said.

The day’s events also featured an “E-Learning on Demand” technical session. Referentia Systems, Honolulu, Hawaii, sponsored the briefing on e-learning and electronic performance support system technology. The session included a demonstration of an instant training and performance support system. The system was developed in conjunction with a suite of crisis action planning tools as part of an advanced concept technology demonstration (ACTD) for the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). In addition to the DISA ACTD case study, the session included an overview of e-learning technologies and a review of best practices in developing effective educational media for the Web and CD-ROM delivery.

Maj. Gen. Eugene Renzi, USA (Ret.), president, ManTech International Telecommunications and Information Systems Corporation, moderated a panel session on government and industry information systems requirements. Members of the panel included Maj. Gen. James D. Bryan, USA, vice director, DISA, and commander, Joint Task Force for Computer Network Operations; Capt. Scott E. Jasper, USN, deputy for joint experimentation, U3OE; John Powell, director, Information Technology Solutions Division, Federal Technology Service; Col. Ron McClair, USMC, chief, Operations and Plans Division, PACOM; and Maj. Gen. (Sel.) Robert M. Shea, USMC, director, command, control, communications and computers (C4), Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps.

The panel explored the relationship of the military and industry in meeting the needs of the warfighter. Gen. Bryan stated that developing new capabilities in isolation is not enough to maintain a technological advantage. Only through interoperable, secure and best value networks can leaders hope to achieve maximum return on existing and emerging capabilities. The recently released Quadrennial Defense Review echoes this emphasis. U.S. forces will not only need to work together across every service but also with other nations. In addition, they must have the ability to work quickly and effectively with state and local governments as well as with emergency agencies.

Col. McClair focused on the need to automate more processes that support the theater knowledge-centric enterprise manager. In the past, limited command and control structure existed to prioritize theaterwide response to network failures or attacks. The concept of PACOM network operations (NETOPS) was developed to provide the organizations, procedures and technologies required to monitor, manage, coordinate and control the theater information grid. NETOPS consists of three functional areas: telecommunications network management, information assurance and information dissemination management. The concept is designed to help automate more processes that will support the required theater knowledge-centric enterprise manager.

To accomplish this vision, NETOPS requires improvements in fault detection capabilities that seamlessly view the garrison infrastructure and deployed forces tactical communications; network performance measurement capabilities that measure past performance and near-real-time network status; information assurance tools that correlate information from multiple resources; collaborative tools; and knowledge management tools that provide an automated operational impact statement. The ultimate requirement is for an enterprise manager that links all of the NETOPS’ parts.

The second day of the conference began with a technology breakfast featuring Richard Rosenburg, program executive, EDS, who discussed the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) with an update on the project’s progress in Oahu, Hawaii. The NMCI Information Strike Force has assumed responsibility at 32 sites and has begun integrating enlisted personnel at the Network Operations Center in Norfolk, Virginia. Rosenburg also announced that construction at Kaneohe Marine Corps Base has begun, providing 500 construction jobs in the area.

Brig. Gen. Janet A. Hicks, USA, director for C4, PACOM, moderated the J-6 panel, which featured representatives from the J-6s in each service. Capt. James M. Fordice, USN, director of command, control, communications, computers and intelligence for the commander in chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, discussed progress with the combined operations wide area network. The network will provide a bilateral and multilateral network with e-mail, Web, chat and common operating picture capabilities. Capt. Fordice stressed that policy is the “biggest pole in the tent” and emphasized the need for streamlined accreditation processes.

Col. Monica Gorzelnik, USA, commander, 516th Signal Brigade and deputy chief of staff for information management, U.S. Army Pacific (ARPAC), talked about ARPAC’s role as lead in homeland security within PACOM. Interoperability is now needed in new areas such as fire and rescue operations and the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

Additionally, Col. Charles Cooke, USMC, assistant chief of staff, Marine Corps Forces Pacific (MARFORPAC), talked to panel attendees from a Marine Corps point of view and emphasized the need for wireless communications. He stated that all Marine Corps systems have three requirements. They have to be small, coalition friendly and jointly interoperable.

Gen. Bryan moderated the network operations panel, opening the session by noting that malicious activity continues to increase with an expected 40,000 attacks by the end of 2001. Panel members included Capt. Nick Harris, USN, chief of X Group, National Security Agency; Rear Adm. James B. Plehal, USNR, deputy director, National Infrastructure Protection Center; Brent Greene, deputy manager, National Communications System; and Col. Stephen Walker, USA, commander, DISA Pacific.

Adm. Plehal stated that today’s challenge is to protect critical infrastructures not controlled by the government but essential to the nation’s security and economy. Public-to-public and public-to-private partnerships are essential but difficult when sharing proprietary information.

Greene gave his views on the role of the overseas National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee consisting of 30 chief executive officers advising the U.S. president on the security of information systems that support various sectors of the economy such as banking, transportation, manufacturing and energy. Greene discussed the increase in effort and cooperation between industry and government officials who are looking for ways to share information with the goal of improving security practices.

Capt. Harris spoke about the importance of the operations and communications security monitoring and functions of the information assurance red team. They are leading process development of active network defense that will focus on creative methods to respond to network attacks.

In addition, Col. Walker provided insight into the operational protection of Defense Department networks. DISA Pacific recently installed sensors at all gateways into and out of the Pacific Theater. This provides visibility of all Internet traffic destined for users in the Pacific Theater. DISA has achieved almost 100 percent visibility of all Internet traffic flowing into the theater. Col. Walker stated that the biggest challenge is filtering the data that comes from 15 million to 20 million connections a day.

New system vulnerabilities are discovered regularly, and a lag time between discovering the vulnerability and getting the signature into the intrusion detection sensors database continues to be a problem. Operators must deal with protecting hundreds of networks at once, Col. Walker said. Most commercial tools are designed to protect one domain at a time. Tools that can correlate data from large numbers of different types of sensors have been slow to come to the market. The Defense Department is still looking for a tool that can provide this kind of robust capability.

Thursday’s breakfast featured Lt. Gen. E.B. Hailston, USMC, commanding general, MARFORPAC, who focused on expeditionary marine warfare. He explained the tenants of theater engagement strategy and spoke about future requirements such as an “all-communications package,” which includes videoconferencing. The package must be mobile, interoperable, small and easy to maintain, he said.

Gen. Hicks moderated another session with the J-6 subunified commanders. The commanders shared that there is a critical need for combined/coalition interoperability. Capt. Janice Lai, USN, director, command, control and communications systems, U.S. Forces Japan, gave a briefing on bilateral wide area network initiatives in Japan. The command is working on legal issues and moving toward a multipoint videoconferencing capability with access outside of Japan.

Col. Steve Spano, USAF, assistant chief of staff, J-6, U.S. Forces Korea, talked about the challenge to maintain a master vision when 95 percent of forces turn over in one year. His staff created a long-term vision using the commanders in chief top priorities.

The requirement for interoperability between nonmilitary agencies and private/state sectors was emphasized by Col. Sue Ann Olsavicky, USAF, director, communications computer systems, Alaska Command. The LandMobile Radio (LMR) initiative is designed to provide a narrowband communications system that will be used independently by agencies in day-to-day operations and across networks in times of disaster. Today, the Defense Department and federal, state and local agencies must swap radios or provide a liaison from each group to coordinate emergency efforts. The LMR strategy and funding plan has been agreed on by all participants, and a pilot program is underway.

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