DOD to examine network warfare issues at summit

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Senior information technology officials at the Defense Department and military services will meet later this week to discuss their information assurance problems.

They will meet here to discuss whether the military services are doing information assurance right, said Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Robert Shea, the Joint Staff’s director of command, control, communications and computer systems. He spoke Oct. 17 at the Milcom 2005 conference.

“I suspect we don’t have the paradigm right,” Shea said.

John Grimes, DOD’s chief information officer nominee, will participate in the meeting.

Shea emphasized that according to the network-centric warfare doctrine, “the network is our center of gravity, and our ability to defend it is our Achilles’ heel.” He said IT officials in DOD and the military services must devise solutions to fix information assurance problems now and to anticipate ones in the future.

The Joint Staff is studying the military’s communications infrastructure. He said it is also reviewing vulnerabilities in networks identified by military commands.

DOD is also working on the Joint Information Assurance Manpower Standard, a set of guidelines to accredit its information assurance staff. He said the department needs professional, full-time workers to operate and defend its networks. DOD is also deciding whether it has effective spectrum policies, plans and organizations, he added.

Shea said if DOD cannot protect the network and manage the spectrum, the department’s net-centric warfare plans of connecting networks and sharing data will fall apart like a house of cards.

DOD networks are increasingly under attack. Former military and industry officials say culprits include countries such as China, terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda, crime gangs, drug traffickers and thrill-seeking hackers.

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