Pentagon bolsters net mandate
- By George I. Seffers
- Oct 02, 2000
The Pentagon has established a new policy that makes the Global Information
Grid Waiver Board the sole authority for approving area networks not using
the Defense Department's mandated network.
The Defense Information Systems Network is DOD's mandated network for
voice, data and video, and it is maintained by the Defense Information Systems
Agency. Under two new policies, anyone seeking exemptions to the mandate
must get a waiver from the Global Information Grid Waiver Board, made up
of representatives from various parts of DOD.
DISN is one element of the Global Information Grid (GIG), which is
designed to provide seamless, fully interoperable data to military forces,
from regional commanders in chief to soldiers in the foxhole. It is "the
globally interconnected, end-to-end set of information capabilities, associated
processes and personnel for collecting, processing, storing, disseminating
and managing information on-demand to warfighters, policy-makers and support
"This [waiver] process ensures that Defense Department network solutions
are optimized in terms of cost, inter-operability and security," said a
Pentagon spokeswoman. "[It] ensures that leadership becomes aware of emerging,
more challenging requirements, which often push the envelope of today's
capabilities. Knowing these emerging requirements is the key to solving
"The waiver board also examines existing legacy networks, with a view
toward obviating the need for their nonstandard solutions and enabling the
department to realize even further network economies."
The policy memos cover both the networks and network operations, according
to the spokeswoman, and will be implemented by the assistant secretary of
defense for command, control, communications and intelligence.
Tony Valletta, former acting assistant secretary of defense for command,
control, communications and intelligence, praised the policies for instituting
a formal process. Valletta is an executive at Fairfax, Va.-based SRA International
"When you're as big as the Department of Defense, you have to have some
discipline. Whether it is done through a board, office, policy, committee
or man, you need that basic discipline. Otherwise, people will be going
around doing their own thing, and you'll pay for it by finding out things
aren't working on the battlefield. And you'll pay for it with soldiers'
lives," Valletta said.
"If anyone is allowed to build a network that does not meet the [GIG]
architecture, we'll pay for it in the future," he said.
Another analyst, however, said the Defense Department's history of
maintaining different systems that do not inter-operate raises serious doubts
about the board's potential effectiveness.
"This is not a new problem. It's simply a resurfacing of an old problem
in modern guise. The problem is that there are various parts of the military's
vast telecommunications system with various owners in charge," said Ken
Allard, vice president for Stratfor.com. "The GIG is really there for the
warfighters who have neither the budget nor the authority to really effect
Although Valletta said he hopes the board will receive few requests
for exemptions, Allard said he anticipates many such requests will come
in. "Sure there will be lots of exemptions. Why else would you even have