Navair pioneers military smart card
- By George I. Seffers
- Oct 16, 2000
Naval Air Systems Command's NMCI site
The Naval Air Systems Command, the first organization to hook up to the
Navy Marine Corps Intranet, also will be among the first to use the Pentagon's
newly introduced smart card.
The Common Access Card is based on smart card technology that stores
and processes information on an embedded microprocessor chip. It was introduced
publicly Oct. 10 at the Pentagon and combines public-key infrastructure
technology for network security purposes and personal identification information.
The cards, which are in beta testing now, will become the departmentwide
identification card to be used for electronic commerce, access to facilities
or networks, creation of digital signatures for e-mail and storing encryption
information. In addition, the cards eventually could include such things
as medical and dental information.
"This will go to all of our active duty, reserve, civilians and select
contractors," said Bernard Rostker, undersecretary of Defense for personnel
and readiness. "It is a card that puts us in the forefront of e-commerce
and security with the advent of bar coding and magnetic strips and, for
the first time, a smart chip."
Because Navair, based in Patuxent River, Md., will be the first organization
to install NMCI, a $6.9 billion program awarded Oct. 6 to Electronic Data
Systems Corp., it also will be among the first to receive the Common Access
Cards. Computer workstations delivered to Navair as part of the NMCI program
will come equipped with readers for the smart cards, according to Pentagon
Paul Brubaker, DOD deputy chief information officer, said the length
of testing remains uncertain, but he added that DOD hopes to begin fielding
an initial capability in 01/and issue the cards department-wide within
a few years.
The cards also are being tested by several other organizations within
DOD, including the office of the assistant secretary of Defense for command,
control, communications and intelligence, which is ultimately in charge
of both NMCI and the smart card programs.
Beginning this month, the military intends to issue 50,000 cards. The
cards hold 32K of memory, 13K of which will be set aside for digital certificates
and another 7K for use as each service sees fit. Although the cards will
contain some personal information, such as name, rank, serial number and
blood type for military personnel, DOD might limit how much information
is placed on the cards.
"We're actually trying to dumb down the card a little bit so that when
you plug the card in, a computer registry somewhere will tell you information
about that person," Brubaker said. "We don't want a lot of that data, even
though it's encrypted, to be floating around on a card until we test it."