Why DOD thinks JIE is the future; how industry can help

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In Navy Adm. James “Sandy” Winnefeld Jr.’s vision, information technology will soon almost completely fuel the Defense Department.

“Almost every element of our national security capability has an element of information technology at its heart,” the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Thursday a group of industry representatives at AFCEA’s Joint Warfighter Information Technology Day.

It starts with an investment — in the next four years, DOD is adding 4,000 cyber-operators and investing $23 billion in cybersecurity — and ends with the joint information environment, Winnefeld said. In the joint information environment, or JIE, networked operation centers, core data centers and a global identity management system in the cloud operate in conjunction to deliver information to anyone anywhere. It’s the best way to secure the country from threats, both internal and external, Winnefeld argued.

The JIE “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,” Winnefeld said. It leads to “better integration of information technologies in operations while increasing our ability to respond to security breaches across the system as a whole.”

U.S. Cyber Command has established three teams to defend the eventual JIE. National mission teams will work with the Department of Homeland Security and FBI to protect the “dot-gov” and “dot-com” domains; a larger set of teams will support combatant commanders around the world; and the largest set of teams will defend military networks around the globe.

The commercial IT industry can help DOD get to this point, Winnefeld told the audience.

“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. For example, the commercial IT industry has solutions the military could potentially use to standardize the military services’ network architecture.

So it starts with something like standardized email for all service members, but “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,” Winnefeld said.

It also helps shifts DOD’s IT focus from a “net-centric” architecture, to a “data-centric” architecture, where databases play a more crucial role.

“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 said. “We’ve never had end-to-end visibility in the enterprise like this before, or the added security that comes with it.”

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