Inside DOD

By Amber Corrin

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Secrecy could be weighing down military info-sharing

Today’s battlefield looks different from those of the past past for several reasons, not the least of which being the proliferation of technology in combat. The Defense Department is intent on maximizing capabilities of those technologies, particularly in the realm of information-sharing, where being connected is saving lives.

However, the much-needed information-sharing can be complicated by another critical aspect of war: Operational security. And in the name of "op-sec," U.S. military secrecy is second to none.

But what happens when the need to share clashes with the need to know?

“There’s a volume of information being exchanged on the battlefield,” said Mike Eixenberger, deputy director of the Army’s LandWarNet Battle Command. Here, the network is key, he said. “The ultimate goal of the network is to connect people and organizations to share information and knowledge, and to develop common understanding.”

Sometimes, however, important information is sandbagged by the "secret" data classification, even when it’s not necessarily needed.

“There is a difference between making something 'secret' – with all the accompanying encryption and all that – and taking due diligence” to make sure information is going to the right places, Eixenberger said. “There are smart ways of taking caution to protect information.”

The process can be complicated by where the information is being shared – namely, on DOD’s Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRnet). “Just because you put information or systems on SIPR[net] doesn’t mean it’s secret,” he said.

To best arm servicemembers in dual wars, a balance must be struck between operational security and important information-sharing.

“There are always risks and vulnerabilities, but you have to lay those out next to the benefits,” Eixenberger said. He spoke on June 29 at the Command and Control Summit held by the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement in Arlington, Va.

Posted by Amber Corrin on Jul 02, 2010 at 12:14 PM


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