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Winnefeld: New DOD IT Enterprise Will Bring Transformation

By Karen Parrish

The information technology sector may be the only winner in a defense funding climate that views “flat as the new up” -- but maintaining dominance in the cyber domain is going to take more and faster innovation, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today.

Navy Adm. James A. “Sandy” Winnefeld Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addresses the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association's Joint Warfighter Information Technology Day in Tysons Corner, Va., Sept. 12, 2013. DOD photo by Army Staff Sgt. Sean K. Harp 

Addressing the theme of “leveraging technology to achieve force dominance across the services,” Navy Adm. James A. “Sandy” Winnefeld Jr. spoke to hundreds of industry representatives at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association’s sixth annual Joint Warfighter IT Day.
His central question to industry, he said, “is whether or not the department’s information technology enterprise is meeting our warfighting needs, and if not, what can we do about it?”
The Defense Department’s wars since 2001 have generated a lot of military expertise in network warfare and intelligence-operations integration, the admiral said. But he cautioned that potential adversaries “have been learning from us” about how to wage and disrupt network-enabled warfare.
The rapidly growing consumer IT market can provide advantages in that domain, Winnefeld noted, that are not available on the land, sea or in the air. “IT is one of the few things we have and do as a military that is virtually indistinguishable from the things the civilian world does,” he said.
Winnefeld said leveraging competition in the commercial IT industry, while standardizing architecture across the forces, could help the department keep its decisive edge.
“Almost every element of our national security capability has an element of information technology at its heart,” he noted. “The brains belong to our warfighters, but the nerves are the network.”
The department is growing its capacity to operate in the cyber domain, adding 4,000 cyber operators over the next four years and investing $23 billion in cyber security, Winnefeld said. He noted that U.S. Cyber Command has designated three kinds of teams to operate around the clock:
-- National mission teams that will support the Department of Homeland Defense and the FBI in defending “dot-gov” and “dot-com” domains;
-- A larger set of teams supporting combatant commanders in executing military missions around the globe; and
-- The largest set of teams, which will operate and defend U.S. military networks worldwide.
“These three teams will constitute our cyber force,” he said. “And as anyone who reads the newspapers knows, we are also increasingly contending with how to prevent breaches from inside.”
Scrutiny and oversight are some defense against insider threat, he said, “but the best thing we can do to defend against both the internal and external threat is to transform the very foundation of our network architecture — something we are calling JIE.”
The Joint Chiefs of Staff are making the notion of a Joint Information Environment a reality, he said. Consisting of networked operations centers, core data centers, and a global identity management system with cloud-based applications and services, the vice chairman said, “it aims to provide our warfighters and mission partners with a shared IT infrastructure and a common set of enterprise services, all under a single security architecture.”
The new platform won’t solve every issue, he acknowledged, but it will offer “better integration of information technologies in operations while increasing our ability to respond to security breaches across the system as a whole.”
The transition enables a new level of cooperation among the services in the IT realm, he said, “akin to the higher levels of jointness we have achieved in other areas.”
Beginning with standardizing email so that service members can all reach each other, he said, “ultimately, JIE will allow far deeper and wider operational synchronization in areas like joint fires and maneuver — something especially important as units at the edge increasingly rely on capabilities and effects generated in the center.”
By integrating and consolidating information systems, DOD is moving from a net-centric environment to a data-centric environment, he said. He noted that July 31, U.S. European Command reached initial operating capability for JIE with an enterprise operations center responsible for all networks in its theater and connected to the Global Operations Center at Fort Meade, Md.
“This is the first step in collapsing dozens more network command and control nodes for bases, posts, camps, and stations, significantly reducing the network management overhead,” Winnefeld noted. “We’ve never had end-to-end visibility in the enterprise like this before, or the added security that comes with it.”
Experimentation on the JIE architecture is beginning to flourish, he said, and small companies have thus far proven agile competitors in designing for the system against larger, established defense industries.
JIE will enable innovation in every corner of the military, the admiral said. “We still build platforms the same old way,” he added, “but the things that ride on them, including and especially IT, have to be super-agile.”
Innovation and a joint information environment, he said, will ensure “the warfighter is more effective, the nation is safer, and more businesses can work with DOD, … ensuring our nation’s leading commercial sector strengthens our national security as well as our economic prosperity.”