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DISA Vice Director Discusses Future of DoD IT

The Defense Information Systems Agency’s vice director, Navy RADM David G. Simpson, spoke to members and sponsors of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) Central Maryland Chapter at a luncheon held in Greenbelt, Md. on Jan. 24.

“We are so happy to be in our Maryland home at Fort Meade," Simpson told attendees, referencing the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Act of 2005, which directed the relocation of DISA Headquarters from Arlington, Va., to Fort George G. Meade, Md. — a move the agency completed during the summer of 2011. "It is so useful to be together in Maryland with the National Security Agency, with U.S. Cyber Command, with a number of the information schools and other activities right there on Fort Meade, and with a wonderful contractor and industry base that’s here,” he said.

Simpson quickly delved into the details of his presentation, offering a retrospective on the Department of Defense’s (DoD) readiness for the attack at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon nearly 60 years later on Sept. 11, 2001. He hypothesized that while the DoD was prepared to respond to those attacks, the department’s current force structure is increasingly vulnerable in its newest battle space, the cyber domain, due to our dependence on information to provide the asymmetric advantage.

“As a department, we have a mission to drive down risks,” said Simpson, “and we’re doing this in a couple of key areas. We have to understand the concept of critical terrain and that parts of the battle space are more important to others. We have to defend it at a higher standard. Education and training clearly play a key role in building a [cyber] warfighter culture. We have to reduce the attack surface.”

After outlining the current state, the vice director transitioned into a discussion of DoD’s information technology (IT) future, the Joint Information Environment (JIE).

“[The JIE] is not a program of record or a joint program office. It is an organization of alignment across the department around shared IT infrastructure, enterprise services, and a single security architecture that is designed from the very beginning around the information sharing that needs to occur across the department.”

According to Simpson, the DoD has developed a matrixed configuration to task organize around the JIE with the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS); Office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer (DCMO); DoD Chief Information Office (CIO); Joint Staff J6 for Command, Control, Communications, Computers/Cyber (C4); U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM); military services; intelligence community; and National Guard all playing a role.

“The chairman [of the Joint Staff] and each of the service chiefs have endorsed this [JIE] as a military imperative. The Deputy Management Action Group has decided that this is the right way to go forward, not just answer the mission imperative, but to also respond to real budget issues, get after the threat vector, be dominant in the information space, and do that in an efficient and affordable way. It’s got mission endorsement and push, as well as the resource commitment from all of the key leaders inside the Pentagon,” said Simpson.

He further explained the management of JIE is conducted through the JIE Executive Committee tri-chaired by the DoD CIO, Teri Takai; Joint Staff J6, Army LTG Mark Bowman; and CYBERCOM commander, Army GEN Keith Alexander, who also serves as the initiative’s operational sponsor.

In execution, there are three lines of operation: governance, operations, and technical synchronization. DISA has been given responsibility for the technical aspects of JIE and leads the JIE Technical Synchronization Office (JTSO), which includes agency staff, as well as representation from the military services, intelligence community, and National Guard.

Simpson emphasized that there is no new funding for JIE and that the investment needed to evolve the enterprise infrastructure is wrapped up in DoD legacy IT programs and existing networks, hence the need for synchronization of current and future architectures, engineering designs and enterprise services, capabilities, and applications.

Programs like DoD Enterprise Email (DEE) — which currently has 800,000 users on the Sensitive but Unclassified Internet Protocol (IP) Data Service, 20,000 users on the Secret Internet Protocol (IP) Data Service, and has the potential to scale to 4.5 million users in the JIE — bring the department closer to the vision of an enterprise information environment by offering enhanced access, synergy with the mobile environment, and unprecedented agility and information-sharing capabilities.

Other enterprise services and capabilities slated to evolve the JIE include: the DoD Enterprise Portal Service, based on a Microsoft SharePoint platform; Unified Capabilities, which will integrate voice, video, and/or data services across a secure and highly available network infrastructure; Enterprise Cloud Broker, which will standardize the provision of cloud services across DoD; and mobility solutions, which include the mobile device management, including application or widget management.

 

 

Posted January 28, 2013