AKO offers secure portal lessons

In developing its own secure portal, the Air Force might be able to take some lessons learned from the Army Knowledge Online portal, which has more than 1 million accounts, including about 6,000 with SIPRNET access, said Robert Coxe, the Army's former chief technology officer who managed AKO.

The Air Force is in the initial phases of developing a secure portal that will provide air operations centers with access to the data they need to make critical warfighting decisions. Such information currently is maintained in disparate systems.

The system will provide the air operations centers with point-and-click access to an integrated set of secure information and will run on the Defense Department's Secret Internet Protocol Router Network.

Lt. Gen. Leslie Kenne, deputy chief of staff for warfighting integration at Air Force headquarters, said the Air Force SIPRNET Portal is being tested as a way to eliminate the "disconnect between the force and the unit level" and will enable users to simply access the information they want and need to conduct air operations.

Coxe said the Air Force is on the right track and using all the right buzzwords as it develops the portal, but "the trouble will be connecting the dots between the words later on."

"My suggestion would be to have them look at a common e-mail addressing schema," Coxe said. "That was one lesson from [Sept. 11, 2001]. We wanted to get a hold of the generals to exchange e-mail on the SIPRNET," but people were only familiar with e-mail accounts on their local exchange global address list. "There was no universal address to forward the e-mail using a common place to look up the address."

Coxe, who is now deputy chief information officer for e-government at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said the Air Force may already have addressed the problem, much the same way the Army did on Sept. 12, 2001, when the service set up a directory to make the translation from the local exchange address to an AKO SIPRNET address.

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