Military builds strong framework to exploit intelligence data
DOD's integration effort targets information that enhances decision-making throughout chain of command
The Defense Department’s wealth of intelligence-collecting technology is surpassed only by its need to break down and analyze the resulting data deluge, and the disparities among services, agencies and offices further muddies the situation.
To address those challenges, DOD is developing and launching the Defense Intelligence Information Enterprise (DI2E) framework, which will integrate all disconnected information, teams, tools and technologies. Using a single, all-encompassing system, DOD and the intelligence community will be able to more easily share information and resources.
“We started talking about the need for a common framework almost two years ago,” said Mary Lynn Schnurr, Army intelligence CIO for the deputy chief of staff and director of the Intelligence Community Information Management Directorate."We all have special requirements and unique functionalities within each of the services and programs, and we have a lot of different analytical capabilities. But we need to be more attuned to shared and common services, and we need to collaborate more effectively on efficiencies.”
DI2E relies heavily on cloud-based capabilities that pull information from hundreds of data sources, provide analysis, and present visual reporting and actionable intelligence for coalition operations.
“In an environment of declining resources, we need to leverage what others have done,” she said. “This is a full-speed-ahead effort. ... Everyone is eager to become more interoperable, and everyone recognizes that budget constraints will require us to operate in a different manner.”
Under direction from the undersecretary of Defense for intelligence, DOD is developing the DI2E framework to codify the exploitation, analysis, production and dissemination of intelligence to forces on the ground in addition to higher-level decision-makers. The effort that encompasses DOD and the intelligence community for use at all levels of the enterprise has been a struggle to achieve.
“To date, efforts to consolidate on a common information-sharing infrastructure utilizing the Global Information Grid have not achieved the goal of a single information warfighting enterprise,” said one top DOD official speaking on background. “The framework includes policies and technologies that enable the sharing of data, Web services and applications across the defense intelligence communities.”
The forthcoming framework focuses on cloud-based services and software and applications that DOD can easily integrate and upgrade, which will allow faster deployment of tools and technology, save money, and provide better access management.
“Moving to the cloud reduces the costs of infrastructure and licensing and reduces the opportunity for [malicious activity] on the network,” Schnurr said. "It improves our security posture because the cloud is a more controlled environment with better configuration management."
Although DI2E is still in development, use of its principles and tools are already in play.
The Army’s component of the Distributed Common Ground System, DOD’s first tactical cloud, is one example of DI2E already at work. The system launched in Afghanistan in March, with significant growth projected in coming months across DOD areas of responsibility. The DCGS family of systems will eventually have components from the other services, too, and a key DI2E capability is already making a difference on the ground.
“People talk about the ‘little E’ enterprise, but we need to get with the program and talk about the ‘big E’ enterprise: both DOD and the intelligence community,” Schnurr said. "We need a cloud and unified data space that brings in data; enriches and analyzes data; and presents, shares and visualizes data as actionable intelligence for decision-makers. These are the primary, key pieces of DI2E.”