One of the key issues at this year's LandWarNet conference and symposium is cyber security and operations. Among the challenges to security is the use of military computer networks for purposes they were not originally designed for. Speaking at a panel on the state of Army cyber security and operations, Brig. Gen. Steven W. Smith, chief cyber officer, Army CIO/G-6, noted that "The NIPRNET was never designed at a command and control network, but it sure is now." The service must facilitate cultural change and newly launched initiatives to ensure the security of its networks, he said.
The theme of this year's LandWarNet conference and symposium is leveraging the global network enterprise to enable full spectrum operations to the warfighter. Gen Carter F. Ham, USA, launched the event by discussing the Army's need to leverage the network and cyberspace to enable command and control. He explained that this was a historic time for Army signals as the service establishes a new unified command devoted to cyberspace.
Because this is a very dynamic time for the signals community, he said that communications personnel must be fully engaged in the enterprise from the beginning. Signals personnel help build and maintain the systems on which full spectrum operations rely.
This is my take on the AFCEA, Northcom and George Mason University conference on "Inter-agency, Allied and Coalition Information Sharing," which was covered on SIGNAL Scape last week.
No, we still can't connect the dots as well as hoped and never will, but conferees agreed that what matters most is the thoughtful and trusting use that humans could make of what information manages to flow through IT systems, however improperly they may be connected. Technology is neither the roadblock nor the solution to building an information sharing network.
The Obama administration can take certain key steps to improve the ability to recognize and deal with national security threats, according to recommendations in "Nation at Risk," a report issued by The Markle Foundation Task Force on National Security in the Information Age. Jeff Smith of Arnold & Porter LLP, a steering committee member for the report, presented it yesterday at the AFCEA SOLUTIONS conference on information sharing.
The dramatic culture shift that needs to happen for government agencies to embrace change kept coming up at the SOLUTIONS conference like the refrain of a popular song: agencies must move from an emphasis on risk avoidance to a focus on risk management. Without that shift, the quest to achieve 100 percent risk avoidance is quixotic at best; more realistically, it hampers agencies' ability to share information.
Although there has been a great deal of progress in streamlining information sharing among allied forces over the past decade, many impediments remain. As the panelists at this morning's session on the challenges surrounding information sharing in a coalition environment noted, the devil is in the details.
Command and control (C2) still hasn't evolved with the times, according to an afternoon plenary session at AFCEA SOLUTIONS today. Dr. David S. Alberts, director of research for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, networks and information integration, spoke on the maturity and agility of C2. Alberts explained missions are increasingly complex, with implications on command and control:
Chris Gunderson of the Naval Postgraduate School posited some interesting ideas during yesterday afternoon's plenary sessions about why everyone keeps hearing the same things about changes that need to be made. Certain things, he suggested, we should just acknowledge and move past:
General Victor E. Renuart Jr., USAF, commander, North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, opened the AFCEA Solutions conference on Inter-Agency, Allied and Coalition Information Sharing with a resounding endorsement of the need for continuing conversation about information sharing. But conversation isn't enough, he continued. "Discussions don't move to real solutions very rapidly. Discussion is wonderful, but action is what we need."
Ongoing exercises at the national level are the key to improving inter-agency homeland security processes, according to panelists at Tuesday morning's Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) panel at AFCEA SOLUTIONS. Such exercises contributed to the successful security implementation at the inauguration in January, said Col. Ken McNeill, ARNG, NGB/J-6.
CHICAGO - Juliette Kayyem, assistant secretary for intergovernmental programs, DHS, led off Thursday afternoon's interactions at the National Conference on Emergency Communications. Kayyem came to the federal government from her position with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts where she was the governor's go-to person for homeland security.
CHICAGO - National Conference on Emergency Communications attendees interested in grants to fund local programs heard about recent changes to the program during a Thursday session titled "Show Me the Money: Understanding the Grants Process." The Honorable W. Ross Ashley III, FEMA Grant Programs Directorate, DHS, pointed out that partnership is not only the key theme for this conference but also for his directorate.
CHICAGO - Michael Byrne, former member of the New York City Fire Department, started out the discussion about how technology can save money with a bold statement: "Web 2.0 is biggest shift in how we communicate since the introduction of the telegraph." At an afternoon break-out session at the National Conference on Emergency Communications, he backed up this statement by explaining that social networking capabilities have replaced traditional one-way communications with dialogue. "It's a dialogue that's taking place that makes it faster to get input from the constituents then ever before," he stated.
CHICAGO - The first National Conference on Emergency Communications opened today with the goal of creating a national forum for emergency responders. In addition, the conference has been designed to clarify roles and initiatives the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) and its partner programs are leading.
CHICAGO - Both federal and local emergency response leaders opened the first formal session of the National Conference on Emergency Communications by inviting attendees to share openly their success stories as well as the challenges they face. More than 450 representatives from emergency response organizations are attending the conference, including personnel from the military as well as large and small U.S. communities and Guam, Hawaii, the United Kingdom and Canada.
CHICAGO - Two case studies were the topic of discussion during the final presentation of the first day of the National Conference on Emergency Communications. The discussions centered around two large-scale multijurisdictional responses: one unplanned and one planned.
Scott Wiggins, director, division of emergency communication networks, Minnesota Department of Public Safety, described the details about the I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis in 2007. The bridge collapsed because of a design flaw and the additional weight on the bridge caused by the equipment needed for ongoing construction.
CHICAGO - Day two of the National Conference on Emergency Communications demonstrated that, as hoped, networking is the norm for this event. The chatter from first responder organization representatives from throughout the United States before the morning break-out sessions was nearly deafening.
Referring to the today's young adults as the "Google Generation," Chris Anderson, editor in chief, Wired magazine, opened the FOSE conference by telling an audience of government and industry representatives that it's time for the government to catch up. Citizens have come to expect not only information from government agencies but also the ability to interact quickly with government organizations via the Web. Agencies-as well as large companies-have been slow to respond to this demand, Anderson stated.
The next event we will feature here on SIGNAL Scape will be TechNet Asia-Pacific, Nov. 3-6 at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel, Honolulu, Hawaii. SIGNAL Editor-in-Chief Robert K. Ackerman will be sending us updates as things break from the conference.
Registration for the conference is still open. For more information, click here.