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Experts Discuss Opportunities, Barriers in Mobile Technology

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 22, 2013 – As the confines of the cubicle and battle space continue to dissolve, the need for a more secure and mobile environment heightens, a panel of experts said during the Defense & Security Mobile Technologies Symposium here today.

U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Robert Day, Chief Information Office assistant commandant, said the expectations of the millennial generation and evolving global mission requirements are spurring the services to rethink how and where they do business.

DISA is building an enterprise capability and figuring out how to leverage that capability

“The average 25-year-old is what our workforce is and they want me to expand telework, they want me to do new things,” Day said.

He noted inspiration from the Air Force, airlines and even the medical realm that have transferred the data from pounds of manuals, flight planners and procedure checklists into secure, mobile devices.

“[We’re] starting to leverage iPads in the clinics because it gives the doctors and practitioners mobility as they move around,” Day said. “We’re a highly mobile workforce.”

“We’re finding this is the workplace of the future,” he said.

The Army is working to take a “buy-build-fix” approach to leveraging its mobile technology, said Rick Walsh, U.S. Army Mobile Lead Office of the CIO/G-6, who noted there are currently more than 2 million available applications between the iTunes store and Google Play.

Building an application is also an option, but senior leaders should have a thorough understanding of the time it takes to develop it, Walsh said. Over time, applications will ideally have more immediate compatibility with the needs of the military’s secured network environment. “We have to embed our security requirements in industry so they know what to do out of the box.”

Rob Anderson, U.S. Marine Corps Vision and Strategy Division chief, Office of the Director of C4, said the service has set its sights on mobility strategy in a tactical environment.

Anderson said in the last 11 years, the Marine Corps has invested more than $2.3 billion in ground and space communications, and the service now has the ability to network enable its radios.

“Getting those Marines the ability to communicate, at the squad, to the platoon, to the company to be a force enable is really our key focus,” he said, adding that the commandant’s priority is to enable warfighter communication within the tactical domain.

As such, Walsh said, the Marine Corps will move forward to secure a mobile frame, bridge the current environment to future needs, enable a classified mobile environment through Defense Information Systems Agency and enable personally-owned devices within the environment.

But risk, to data, mission and dollars, remains a critical piece of the puzzle, said Air Force Maj. Linus Barloon II, J3 Cyber Operations Division, White House Communications Agency.

“At the end of the day, the individual is really the security control,” Barloon said. 

As a result, Barloon asserts, securing the data, not necessarily the device, is key.

“Getting the device into the user’s hands only solves 25 percent of the problem,” he said. “How do we get the device behind the firewall to access data?”

Peter Ziomek, Office of the Department of the Navy CIO mobile director said ultimately, the promise of mobility lies in how to be better faster and cheaper but within the confines of unique government requirements.

He said that while the original security framework wasn’t designed for the mobile environment, experts are working on ways to change that. “It’s still to be determined if that will allow [the Defense Department] and [the State Department] to keep up with technology.”

(Follow Amaani Lyle on Twitter: @lyleAFPS)


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