Defense IT

Security is on the menu for Joint Information Environment

The Defense Department’s initial push toward its Joint Information Environment began with adoption of DOD Enterprise Email. The next steps will emphasize security, one of JIE’s leaders said Tuesday.

 “JIE’s flagship was Enterprise Email,” Army Lt. Gen. Mark Bowman, director of C4 and CIO of the Joint Staff, said at ACFEA NOVA’s Army IT Day in Vienna, Va. But with the Army and many component agencies having adopted the email system and DOD mandating other services and agencies to do so, the focus will be on security. “It’s critical for us,” Bowman said.

JIE, the military’s plan for a department-wide, cloud-based, interoperable IT infrastructure, was first implemented in Europe last summer. And although it has experienced a few hiccups, Bowman said its leaders, including the Joint Chiefs and the Defense Information Systems Agency, are making progress.

“JIE is the most complex activity going on in DOD today,” touching every aspect of military operations, he said. As such, implementation won’t follow a straight line or strict timetables, with various capabilities and increments being worked on simultaneously. And the services are seeing the benefits.

“Some say it isn’t going well,” Bowman said. “I 100 percent disagree with that.”

For example, he said, moving to Enterprise Email not only gave users a common system, but produced side benefits such as upgrading from Windows XP (“because we had to”) and improved security. “People didn’t like moving but it sure turned out for the good,” he said. The Army, Air Force and DISA also reached agreement last year on an architecture modernization plan that would boost bandwidth, cut costs and support the joint environment.

Further benefits will come from the focus on security, which, like JIE initial rollout, is taking shape in Europe with development of a joint regional security sack.

Bowman said he looked at JIE as a menu, with the idea that everyone should partake of every item. And while he realizes that some components might not fit with JIE and have to abstain, the vast majority of U.S. forces will eventually move to the joint environment.

One thing they do need to work on is interoperability. He said U.S. forces will never again enter a theater situation as a single service or even a joint force. In every case, they will have coalition partners, making interoperability crucial.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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