Stratcom leads DOD cyberdefense efforts

Information sharing and protection is a crucial front in the war on terrorism. Consequently, the Strategic Command (Stratcom) is leading Defense Department efforts to create a virtual environment, including nonstop virtual meetings and blogging so warfighters can disseminate information across locations, commands and rank securely and in real time.

Lt. Gen. Robert Kehler, deputy commander of Stratcom, explained these efforts in a keynote speech at AFCEA International’s TechNet International 2006 conference today in Washington, D.C.

“Unfortunately for us, cyberterrorism is cheap, and it’s fast,” Kehler said. “Today’s terrorist moves at the speed of information.”

Cyberterrorism is anonymous and far-reaching. Government, corporate, personal, public works and airline computers are all attractive targets that cyberterrorists could attack remotely.

To that end, Stratcom’s top priority is to speed the transformation of DOD into a network-centric force in which all commands are interconnected and secured. “Information sharing is a strategic advantage,” Kehler said.

“Achieving the full potential of net-centricity requires viewing information as an enterprise to be shared and as weapons system to be protected,” the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review states.

Stratcom is also the lead operator of the Global Information Grid, which aggregates all interconnected and secure DOD information systems. The command seeks to implement 24-hour, real-time communications from generals to warfighters while protecting those communications from adversaries.

The latest innovation is Strategic Knowledge Integration, known as SKI-web. Part of Stratcom’s classified network, SKI-web functions as a never-ending virtual operation and intelligence meeting. “It is the key tool that the senior leadership uses to stay abreast of events unfolding throughout the command and the world, in real time,” Kehler said.

Blogging is one of the ways SKI-web allows users to contribute to discussions. Every command member, regardless of rank, can blog on issues that affect them, eliminating the vetting process of command bureaucracy. “We have a command chain at Stratcom, not an information chain,” Kehler said. All command levels receive information at the same time, creating an “infosphere” inside which command is exercised, he said.

Changing the culture of information sharing is the most difficult step toward using technology to better distribute and protect information, Kehler said. “The first step in sharing information is the realization that you must, can and will share it,” he said.

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