Strong collaboration needed to fortify networks, DIA director says

Creativity, cooperation essential to ensure security of networked communications

The world of networked communications is changing rapidly, with new technologies, new threats and increasing demands. To provide all the communication capabilities needed for modern warfare, the Defense Intelligence Agency has to be creative and willing to work in a cooperative environment.

The many changes in technology, coupled with the growing security challenges of protecting communications, make this a challenging time, Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said on May 2 during an early presentation at the Department of Defense Intelligence Information Systems conference in Detroit. That’s prompting many changes.

"The world today is more challenging and more important than it’s been at any other time in my 30 years of service. In this environment, the DIA needs more creativity. We need networks that can adapt to changing needs,” Burgess said.

Those challenges extend well beyond technology. Network usage is growing rapidly as more users load networks with communications and data-intensive video. But while usage is increasing quickly, funding is heading in the opposite direction.

“We’ve got our fair share of challenges. On the budget front, we’re getting less in 2011 than we had in 2010,” Burgess said. “That means we have to stress the need for more teamwork. That will increase as we go forward,” he added.

The need for teamwork comes as more users collaborate over networks that must be very secure. Burgess asked rhetorically whether the DIA could have both security and collaboration. He followed that question with another: Does DIA need industry’s help to do this? Both questions got an affirmative answer that focused on cooperation between industry and the military.

“I am well aware that we cannot do the job without you,” Burgess said. “DIA needs the best technology to get the job done.”

He noted that as more data is shared over networks, protecting these communications will be a critical issue. “We need to be 100 percent certain the system is clean. Not just most of the time, all of the time,” Burgess said.

The DIA is focused on making sure that data can be accessed quickly regardless of where it’s created or stored. He noted that if data is gathered but not shared quickly enough, it is all but useless.

“Intelligence without communication is nothing more than history,” Burgess said.

About the Author

Terry Costlow is a contributing writer for Defense Systems.

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