Inside DOD


Amber Corrin

Inside DOD

By Amber Corrin

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How ready are we for cyberspace?

The trouble with cyberspace is that little is defined, many Defense Department officials say. There aren’t the maps of physical terrain that are used every day in military operations. As far as official word goes, a year after the establishment of the Cyber Command, policies and doctrine are still being worked out. Little is publicly known about what’s in America’s cyber arsenal — or about the policies that govern it.

What is clear: The DOD approach to cyberspace needs to be much different than traditional operations.

“We can’t dominate cyberspace — the buy-in for bad actors is too low. We should secure cyberspace in a way that makes it impossible for others to dominate,” said Army Col. Jeffery Schilling, chief of current operations at Army Cyber Command. Schilling, June 28 at the IDGA Cyber Warfare and Security Summit in Washington. Schilling stressed that his comments were strictly his own opinion and not representative of DOD.

Schilling said the imminent steps in making cyber defense progress include better definitions for the territory and operations.

“We need to draw a line around cyberspace before the U.S. can exercise governance,” Schilling said, noting that it needs to be determined what exactly to protect. “If you don’t know what’s inside the borders, how can you know what to protect?”

He added that hostile acts and intent — and assigned federal jurisdictions — still need definitions, too.

What’s unique about cyberspace and what makes things more complicated is some of the domain's key attributes: It’s a man-made global commons, and for the most part, it isn’t government owned or operated, Schilling pointed out.

Its borderless existence means there’s no distinction between inside and outside the lines. It’s a virtual environment with no dimensions. Traditional borders have depended on physical geographical boundaries and attributes, of which there are none in cyberspace.

Schilling suggested that cyberspace be treated as sovereign-less space, like the open sea or Antarctica. To address the critical issue of anonymity, he also suggested users and equipment have flags like ships do for identification purposes. This would require international policy and cooperation, he added.

The question is: How much of this is already under way at DOD, and how much of it still remains to even be considered?

Posted on Jun 29, 2011 at 9:03 AM3 comments


When it comes to enterprise IT, change remains hard

There have been many hours of talk about modernizing the Defense Department and optimizing its IT infrastructure – even Army CIO Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence acknowledged this in March.

“We talk a great talk, we really do,” she said. “Our hearts are in the right place. But change is hard.”

Is all the talk bogging down progress, or is it providing a chance for DOD to right the ship?

The planning process seems to be a big reason behind the slow trudge toward a DOD enterprise network, which is a primary goal for defense IT at the moment. Both DOD CIO Teri Takai and DOD Deputy CIO Rob Carey at separate events in April said immense effort is going into developing a framework to support the much-discussed and much-needed military enterprise infrastructure that would connect the services.

“We have to manage the [DOD] network as a living, breathing entity," Carey said at an AFCEA Nova event April 22 in Vienna, Va. He said processes and technology need to be put into place to make it simpler to get information on the network. But at the same time, he added, "we have to do everything in a cogent manner so we don't break anything."

The effort to date is encouraging, Carey said. But he noted that significant cultural change is still needed, and the department is still hammering out a funding model for joint and enterprise initiatives.

“We’re working with the components, services and agencies to continue to develop detailed technical specifications and implementation plans,” he said.

For now, Carey said his office remains focused on near-term actions for moving toward a departmentwide IT infrastructure for data center consolidation, network standardization and optimization, enterprise identity management, enterprise e-mail, and enterprise hardware and software procurement.

He said that all of the work being done is toward three main goals: effectiveness, efficiency and improved cybersecurity.  

Carey also said the continuing budget woes have become a catalyst for change at DOD – an idea Takai appears to be putting to work.

According to Takai, the scarcity of funds is driving innovation in technology and policy-making that will improve financial standings. This is turn will put the right technologies and policies in place to help yield the desired budget savings, she said.

“It’s easy with the budget crisis and DOD challenges to say, ‘We’re going to make efficiencies and budget savings top priority’ ... but when you pursue [the right solutions], you save money,” Takai said April 21 at an Input event in Arlington, Va. “It’s sometimes easier to make hard decisions when budgets are shrinking, because you don’t have the luxury of letting everyone do everything they’ve always wanted to do.”

It will be interesting to see the fruits of DOD's continuing labors in development and budget wrangling. The question is, when will the public see concrete evidence?

Posted on Apr 25, 2011 at 9:03 AM3 comments


Shutdown impact on DOD uncertain, but ominous

The Defense Department will soon release guidance for how the military should proceed in the event of a government shutdown, Pentagon officials said. For now, details are scant.

But this morning one top Army official confirmed that, if there is a shutdown, troops would not receive pay past April 8 and would have to be paid retroactively once legislation for funding is passed. The Pentagon now is weighing how it will keep the military running if budget negotiations falls through.

The federal government, including DOD, is funded through midnight April 8.

“The rules of the game thereafter are that we cannot dispense [pay], so the Army cannot be paid,” said Lt. Gen. Edgar Stanton, military deputy for budget, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (financial management and comptroller office). He spoke at an event in Arlington, Va., sponsored by the Association of the U.S. Army.

Stanton confirmed that would be the case for all of the military services and DOD, not just the Army.

“There’s a gap in funding – we can pay up to the point when the gap commences, but cannot pay again until the legislation is in place,” Stanton said. “At that point it would be paid in full. If it’s two days, it’s not necessarily that bad, but if it’s longer it will become a problem for [military] families. Soldiers in harm’s way need to be focused on the mission, and not on making mortgage or other payments.”

Stanton said he could not discuss the details of the potentially forthcoming DOD shutdown guidance, but said the Army commands are working together to establish a procedure associated with the possible shutdown. Ultimately, the guidance’s details and release will be subject to a decision from the Office of Management and Budget, Stanton said.

DOD previously drafted a memo for guidance when a government shutdown was threatened last month, according to an Air Force Times report that said troops could be required to work without pay.

That memo said DOD personnel would be divided into “essential” and “nonessential” categories: essential employees would be required to report to work and later receive back pay, while nonessential workers would be furloughed with an unclear payment plan. The memo, which was never issued, also outlined what organizations would remain open–including military operations abroad.

The March memo could be serving as the basis of the latest round of policies dealing with a potential government shutdown, but Pentagon officials are also closely studying their authorities, including powers that could be exercised under the Civil War-era Feed and Forage Act of 1861, one expert said.

“The Feed and Forage Act basically allows the military to spend money without appropriation and get approval after the fact. It was also invoked by then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld after the Sept. 11 attacks,” said Mackenzie Eaglen, research fellow for national security at the Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington.

According to a report from OMB Watch, the act allows military discretion in the absence of appropriations to purchase necessary goods and services during emergencies for use through the end of the fiscal year. In DOD’s Financial Management Regulations (volume 3, chapter 12), language clarifies that for use of the Food and Forage Act, “the exigencies of those circumstances must be such that immediate action is imperative and action cannot be delayed long enough to obtain sufficient funds to cover the procurement or furnishing of those items.”

Posted on Apr 06, 2011 at 9:03 AM2 comments


New mobile device policy planned for DOD

The Defense Department is working on the draft of a new policy governing the use of mobile technology.

Defense Information Systems Agency CTO Dave Mihelcic let the news slip March 17 at the AFCEA Mobile Technologies conference in Washington, DC. He said the draft comprises "common sense policies" for the use of commercial mobile technologies without endangering the Global Information Grid, and will include rules for accreditation and flexible spectrum utilization.

This will likely include governance for the security and use of mobile devices like smart phones and iPads, if the chatter at the conference is any indication.

According to DISA public affairs, there's no more information at this point, but more news may be available in coming weeks.

Posted on Mar 18, 2011 at 9:03 AM1 comments


Joint Forces commander details plans for closure

Army Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of Joint Forces Command, updated reporters on Feb. 9 on plans for disestablishing the four-star combatant command as part of broader Defense Department efficiency efforts.

Odierno stressed that the placement of personnel would be highest priority, with streamlined joint functions transferred within DOD – mostly to the Joint Staff, he said. Contracting positions are expected to face major cuts.

The commander also outlined what the remaining organization would look like and focus on after JFCOM’s closure, including an increased concentration on training.

“The changes are significant,” he added. “We will retain the most critical functions and expertise for the joint warfighter in an organization flattened for agility and efficiency. But I do want to stress that this will be a different organization.”

That organization will be roughly half the size of the current command’s 4,700 employees, but will remain in the Norfolk-Suffolk, Va., area, and will be led by a two-star general officer yet to be named.

Odierno noted that the bulk of personnel reductions will affect contractors, but some military and government civilian jobs would also be cut.

The disestablishment will be complete by August 2011, with personnel transfers completed by March 2012, Odierno said.

The command’s closure will yield an organization that will shift focus to collaboration with other DOD and multi-national partners, as well as an emphasis on next-generation training and education.

“This is a reorganization centered on joint training, joint integration, and joint concept and doctrine development,” Odierno said. “This reorganization will allow us to better interact and synchronize adaptive joint training, doctrine and concept development supported by modeling, simulation and experimentation.”

Odierno said that the increased focus on training and education is a driving force that would sustain joint forces as modern warfare continues to evolve.

“This will be underpinned by modeling and simulation, experimentation and lessons learned, and we’ll continue to work to better understand the environment our joint forces are operating in,” he said.

Posted on Feb 11, 2011 at 9:03 AM2 comments


Army CIO watch: Nomination announcement expected soon

 A formal announcement could be coming soon regarding the Army’s nomination for a new chief information officer.

Maj. Gen. Susan Lawrence is the anticipated nominee. She is currently assigned as a special assistant to Gen. Peter Chiarelli, Army vice chief of staff, and previously was commanding general of Army Network Enterprise Technology Command/9th Signal Command at Ft. Huachuca, Arizona.

Inside sources say her nomination has cleared the desk of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and has been submitted to the White House. The timing of the announcement remains uncertain, and could be as long as 45 days, according to sources.

Lawrence would replace Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Sorenson, who stepped down as Army CIO on Nov. 4. In the interim, deputy CIO Mike Krieger has been filling in.

Check back for further coverage.

Posted on Jan 07, 2011 at 9:03 AM0 comments


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