DOD decentralizes Wi-Fi

The Defense Department's new wireless fidelity policy seeks help from many of its agencies to ensure their employees and contractors use caution when operating wireless computer devices at military installations.

The chief information officer and DOD's Office of Networks and Information Integration (NI2) oversee and monitor the new Wi-Fi policy. But the undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the U.S. Strategic Command, the Defense Information Systems Agency and department staff officials all get roles in the new policy.

It mandates that military and industry officials do not use wireless devices to store, process and transmit classified information without approval from the various agencies and department officials. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz issued the directive in an April 14 Defense Department directive titled, "Use of Commercial Wireless Devices, Services, and Technologies in the Department of Defense Global Information Grid."

Wireless devices include notebook computers with Internet or intranet communications, personal digital assistants, cellular/personal communications systems, portable electronic devices, audio and video-recording machines, messaging and scanning devices and remote sensors. They do not include Global Positioning System receivers, receive-only pagers, hearing aids, pacemakers, personal life support systems or other implanted medical devices, the directive said.

Wolfowitz explained the role of military agencies in enforcing the new Wi-Fi policy:

NI2 and CIO: Oversee policy, monitor it and work with military agencies to understand and enforce it.

Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence: Work with the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Defense Security Service and the National Security Agency to enforce the policy with employees and contractors including regular inspections. NSA officials must also implement a capability to assess risks and vulnerabilities with wireless devices.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: Coordinate, develop and implement policy and procedures regarding operations between the services and department agencies.

U.S. Strategic Command: Develop defensive measures to detect, deter and defeat computer network attacks against military wireless systems.

DISA: Incorporate wireless communications considerations into military information assurance efforts.

OSD Principal Staff Assistants: Ensure procurement of wireless technologies include interoperability and security.


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