Communications specialist Master Sgt. Robert Beveridge participates in joint force, joint component cyber training. (Army/Sgt. Zane Craig)
There are a number of different partners and stakeholders involved in the military’s overarching plan to modernize Defense Department networks and IT, but one central tenet of the broad strategy is standard for everyone involved: Collaboration is the new normal.
From the highest levels of the Pentagon to the brigades upgrading network switches on bases, DoD plans for network modernization encompass a top-to-bottom approach. It begins with modernizing the infrastructure underpinning DoD IT operations, including the implementation of new hardware, as well as transitioning everyday desktop office tools to enterprise services. In the long term the modernization effort also includes satellite upgrades that will help enable a globalized defense force with more bandwidth and greater computing power to carry out operations in the most remote corners of the world.
At the heart of DoD’s network modernization is the implementation of the Joint Information Environment, a centralized, integrated IT environment that enables better sharing between services, enhanced security and a common operational picture. The effort itself is a partnership between the military branches and other DoD components, chiefly the Defense Information Systems Agency, which is helping lead the effort.
The path to JIE is under way, but also still under construction as defense leaders negotiate the way forward, particularly when it comes to partnerships and responsibilities of those involved. Acting DoD CIO Terry Halvorsen has launched a joint task force to help determine the next steps in the transition process, and he has emphasized the need for all hands on deck.
“We’re in a position today where [we share] space between the [military departments], DISA, [the intelligence community] and some of the partners. It’s not going to be easy to just say, ‘OK, we stood up the joint task force, DISA you got it.’ That will not work. It will take some process in place on how we do that,” Halvorsen said in June. “Everyone needs to see shared picture — if we put this together and some DISA watch source is the only group that can see the network picture, that’s as big a failure as we have today. Everybody needs to see that and know what the defined rules are for them to make decisions.”