A ribbon-cutting ceremony last week in Stuttgart, Germany, represented another big step forward for the United States military’s access to information.
The ceremony marked the opening of the Defense Department’s first regional operations center to support its joint information environment — an easily accessible network available worldwide from any device. Defense Information Systems Agency made the announcement Monday.
“This [initial operational capability] represents a fundamental strategic shift in how the DOD will operate and defend the DOD information network for years to come,” said Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins Jr., DISA director.
The center, known as an enterprise operations center or EOC, will manage access to the joint information environment for the U.S. European Command and the U.S. Africa Command. Eventually, EOC will “provide combatant commanders a robust and reliable situational awareness of [DOD’s information network’s] global operations and defensive cyber operations from a single site for their assigned areas of responsibility,” reads DISA’s release. “This will increase security, operational flexibility and responsiveness.”
Similar EOCs will soon populate other regions worldwide.
The move to a joint information environment is relatively all-encompassing — requiring enhanced mobile device security, a move to cloud-based information storage and heightened network security.
DISA recently tapped Digital Management Inc. with a three-year, $16 million contract to create secure sandboxes for all of DOD’s mobile devices. And the Joint Chiefs of Staff is creating its own 4G wireless network for mobile devices “that will get iPads, iPhones and Android devices online by mid-2014,” said Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey during a June speech at the Brookings Institute. “In fact, I have a secure mobile phone with me here today. This phone would make both Batman and James Bond jealous.”
And by next year, mobile devices will be the main point of access to the joint information environment, said Lt. Gen. Mark Bowman — director of command, control, communications and computers and cyber/J6 at the Joint Chiefs of Staff — during a June speech. Bowman said the Joint Chiefs of Staff expects to be 80 percent thin client by April 2014.
So the pieces are gradually falling into place — the timelines are tentatively set, the contracts are getting handed out, and with the Stuttgart EOC, the physical support infrastructure is starting to arrive.