Inside DOD


Amber Corrin

Inside DOD

By Amber Corrin


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 on Jul 02, 2010 at 12:14 PM0 comments


Navy CIO assuming new cyber role

Robert Carey, who recently announced he would soon step down as the Navy’s chief information officer, has accepted a position with the Navy Fleet Cyber Command/10th Fleet.

Carey will become director of strategy and policy and work under 10th Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Bernard McCullough. The Navy Fleet Cyber Command was launched earlier this year.

“I am remaining in the Navy IT/Cyber enterprise. ... I have accepted a position at U.S. 10th Fleet / FLEETCYBERCOM and will be working strategy and policy issues to get us moving toward proper cybersecurity as well as access to information. This operational exposure should allow me to see a very unique component of the enterprise,” Carey said in an e-mail to 1105 Government Information Group publications, which include Government Computer News, Federal Computer Week, Washington Technology and Defense Systems.

Carey has been a proponent of the development of technology in government, as well as military cyberstrategy. He was the first government CIO blogger, and he’s been part of a team of military CIOs playing a critical role in the establishment of a formal military cyber defense in the U.S. Cyber Command and the four services’ individual cyber components supporting it.

Carey has not said when he will start the new position or where it will be located, but the Navy Fleet Cyber Command is headquartered alongside the National Security Agency at Fort Meade, Md.

Posted on Jun 30, 2010 at 12:14 PM0 comments


Defense acquisition: the 800-pound gorilla in the room at IRMCO

At the Interagency Resource Management Conference last week, acquisition was a popular topic of conversation -- not surprising, since a large number of the attendees work count acquisition as some or all of their jobs. After all, the government can't have any of the goods or resources it needs without the acquisition and procurement process.

So why, at a conference dedicated to federal resource management, was talk about defense acquisition seemingly as taboo a conversation subject as partisan politics or religion?

The Defense Department’s inventory represents some 86 percent of government assets, according to the March 23 report from the congressionally appointed Defense Acquisition Reform Panel. Defense acquisition accounts for some $4.6 trillion in government assets – also known as federal resources.

In a session titled “Leveraging Partnerships to Fuel Innovation in Acquisition,” a panel of four high-level acquisition professionals praised their pet projects, favorite programs and noble civil servant colleagues. But nobody mentioned the aspect of acquisition that perhaps most needs innovation, that could benefit most from strategic partnerships, that the Defense Acquisition Reform Panel deemed to be “failing the mission” in its processes: those that arm our military.

In the session on innovative acquisition, Karen Pica, management analyst at the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, enthusiastically touted her office’s moves to streamline recruitment and hiring and attract talent to come work for the government.

But despite her role as a top analyst of federal procurement, Pica had nothing to say about defense acquisition; in fact, she pointedly avoided answering a direct question about the subject.

Which is too bad, because the Defense Department could use her ideas – considering the panel on acquisition reform recommended “significant improvements” in managing the acquisition process, developing and incentivizing the highest quality workforce, improving financial management, and maximizing the industrial base.

Only the session provocateur, Lesley Anne Field, would speak to the issue. Field, OMB’s deputy administrator for federal procurement policy, said DOD too can leverage partnerships, both within the department and with other government agencies.

“There are lots of opportunities to recognize inefficiencies and make improvements, but it can’t be done in a vacuum in the acquisitions office,” Field said. “To help meet the guidance, DOD needs relationships, especially within the agency. [The department has to] force partnerships.” Such relationships could help spur efforts and get DOD acquisitions reform moving forward, she added.

It’s important, too, for innovation to touch defense acquisition as much as any other type. Hopefully DOD will overcome its traditional isolation from the rest of the government to take advantage of strategic partnerships that can help it improve – and hopefully the rest of the government is willing to share the wealth of new ideas and approaches, including those brought forth at IRMCO.

Posted on Apr 20, 2010 at 12:14 PM0 comments