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Official Describes Joint Information Environment Blueprint

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

BALTIMORE, June 27, 2013 – The Defense Information Systems Agency will focus on security, efficiencies and mobility as it continues to develop the joint information environment, the agency’s director said during the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association cyber symposium here yesterday.

In his keynote address at the Baltimore Convention Center, Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronnie D. Hawkins Jr. expressed confidence that DISA -- working with U.S. Cyber Command, the National Security Agency and the services -- can offer enhanced cyber and warfighter command and control capabilities with a single security architecture.

“We want to be able to normalize our networks to have the collaboration and information moving over our networks [without] different firewalls and separate networks to get those things done,” Hawkins said. “We know that we need to have a single security architecture in place in order to … protect the data … and move it across the enterprise.”

In previous years, Hawkins explained, network protection has involved multiple firewalls within the services, various organizations and even DISA itself.

“We’ve got to remove those and … go toward protecting the data … in a way that … whether you’re on a unclassified or classified network, we can move that data and get it to the right user at the right time, dependent upon their credentials and need to know,” Hawkins said.

Mobility is another DOD focal point that Hawkins described as a “disruptive technology” in which innovation can overtake an existing market. DOD has proliferated use of secure 3G and 4G mobile devices, as well as secured email, the general told the audience.

“[It’s] a game-changer for how we’ve been moving information,” Hawkins said. “It’s one of those devices that the digital natives moving into the Department of Defense are looking for … to be able to do their job.” And Hawkins said he expects savings in instruments alone as the shift from hard phones to the soft phones continues.

“[We’re] making sure that we can get the information [to] the soldier, sailor, airman, Marine or Coast Guardsman, wherever it is they might be, … and [it will] change the way we do business on a daily basis,” he said.

Similarly, the DOD enterprise email system, which started as a collaborative effort between DISA and the Army, also has projected savings of millions of dollars, the general said. “We’re working … to make sure that we meet the requirements to put enterprise email – both secure and [unclassified] -- out to every [troop] wherever they may be,” Hawkins said.

He also said DISA already has deployed a number of integrated voice data and video applications for review and testing as the agency continues to explore Ethernet-over-Internet protocol pilots. The Defense Department has designed DISA as its “cloud broker,” Hawkins said. “We have met with many industry partners and are teaming with them on how [to] build the algorithms [for] cloud broker capability,” the general added.

Meanwhile, he said, DISA continues work with the services to move capabilities into the public cloud within the joint information environment and is working to merge organizations and personnel by July to ensure better transparency and efficiencies. Other plans, he said, include paring down, consolidating and virtualizing 194 data centers.

Overall, Hawkins said, DISA seeks to enhance warfighter capabilities to adapt to a rapidly changing global landscape. “We believe we can provide that capability to our users, wherever it is that they are, whenever it is that they need it,” he said.


Contact Author

Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronnie D. Hawkins Jr.

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Defense Information Systems Agency

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