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Insight from the Defense Systems JIE New Military Landscape Summit

Published: November 09, 2016

Big DataCloud ComputingInformation TechnologyJoint Information Environment (JIE)OSD

DoD CIO Terry Halvorsen delivered insightful comments on the JIE, cloud, and artificial intelligence at a recent defense industry conference.

In early November, the 1105 Media Group’s Defense Systems publication held an event at the Ritz-Carlton in Arlington, Virginia focused on the Department of Defense’s Joint Information Environment. Called the “JIE and the New Military Landscape Summit,” the event provided industry with an update on the status of DoD’s massive effort to align its networks on a single security architecture.

Department of Defense Chief Information Officer, Terry Halvorsen, opened the summit with his usual combination of cogent observations and on-point admonitions for the future. Stating categorically that the DoD will never get to a final joint information environment because whatever the DoD does it will have to later change its approach, Halvorsen agreed that while some parts of the JIE will be and remain actionable, the JIE will need to evolve and adapt to meet the ever-changing threats facing it.

Mr. Halvorsen never said this, but I took his comments to mean that a software-defined networking capability will be needed to rapidly change the JIE without requiring the constant upgrade of hardware – an expense that the DoD simply cannot afford.

Mr. Halvorsen then added talking points on the Joint Regional Security Stacks (JRSS) and the Mission Partner Environment (MPE).

Concerning the JRSS, the Air Force is slowly making progress toward JIE integration by having just put two bases behind it. Large-scale testing efforts are then expected to proceed in the spring of 2017 alongside the Army. Although the Joint Regional Security Stacks are using proven commercial technology, the DoD needs to test its systems and capabilities that don’t properly function in the new security environment. Given the complexity of the DoD’s IT environment one can only imagine how complicated this process is.

Mr. Halvorsen added that the DoD needs to change its culture to that of a single enterprise. Each of the four Armed Services has its own culture, meaning that the Services must give up some autonomy to make JIE/JRSS work. Adding my own thought here; considering culture has been an historical problem, will the DoD ever reach this point?

In closing his comments on the JRSS, Mr. Halvorsen noted that it is currently at iteration 1.5. Iteration2.0 is coming, but reaching it will not be the end of the process because after 2.0 there will need to be new phases. “We cannot rest,” he said. “We must always keep up with the threat.”

The DoD CIO then turned attention to the Mission Partner Environment, which is the other big focus area for the JIE. According to Halvorsen, developing a cloud-based architecture is the only way to get there today, reflecting an observation Deltek made in its latest report on cloud computing. Namely, that cloud engineering will continue to command big dollars at the DoD.

The three big pieces of the MPE that are being worked today are:

1) Secure Identity. The “Fives Eyes” and other allied nations agree that in order to collaborate securely they need a single identity standard. This standard will not be a CAC Card. Rather, DoD and its allies want a multi-factor, agreed-upon security measure to ensure identity. This could include as many as 15 factors that could be checked for identity on any given day and randomized so that DoD could use a combination of five or six of them.

2) Agreed-upon Cloud Infrastructure. This must be secure and mobile to enable the use of mobile technologies, but developing it is a big struggle right now because the balance between security and speed is not there yet.

3) Autonomous Help. The sheer volume of data the DoD and its allies are poring through is daunting and this fire hose will continue to accelerate. DoD must be able to handle basic security decisions without a human being in the loop, meaning that artificial Intelligence must be in the system. Mr. Halvorsen mentioned specifically that behavior metrics/analytics are becoming an interesting go-to thing for security, but he also said he is keenly following what IBM’s WATSON supercomputer can do to get through data and help make decisions. In a nutshell, the DoD is really interested in AI-driven autonomous help with data-parsing and security that can be accessed at speed.