DOD fields multilevel security environment

Information sharing on the battlefield is crucial to rapid decision-making and joint warfighting. But until recently, it was done only at the classified level, excluding non-Defense Department federal agencies and international partners.

Now, U.S. Joint Forces Command, working with the Air Force Research Laboratory, is fielding the Cross Domain Collaborative Information Environment (CDCIE), which uses aspects of multilevel security to bring outside parties into the information loop. CDCIE completed Phase 1 of the National Security Agency certification test and evaluation last month.

“CDCIE is the effort to create an environment that enables us to bridge the issues associated with multilevel security, and be able to distribute and fuse information in such a way that it can turn into useful and actionable knowledge,” said Dave Ozolek, executive director of JFCOM’s Joint Futures Laboratory.

The goal is to incorporate all elements of national power into operations, not just military capabilities, Ozolek said.

Several prototypes of the environment are being deployed to DOD locations worldwide. In Iraq, the military is using CDCIE to collaborate with the State Department’s Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

DOD needs to bring interagency and multinational actors into the decision-making process and share information with them as appropriate, Ozolek said.

The eight countries in NATO’s Allied Command Transformation are also involved. Multinational Experiment-4, DOD’s largest international modeling and simulation project, was used to test the new technology.

“The problem is that our coalition partners can’t touch the U.S. secret networks for obvious reasons, but we still want to communicate,” said Army Maj. Jim Jackson, software and systems engineering lead for JFCOM’s Joint Innovation and Experimentation Directorate's capability engineering branch.

CDCIE now includes chat rooms, buddy lists, translation systems for multinational use and keyword message alerts, which allow monitoring of multiple sessions. In the future, JFCOM will add community whiteboards, audiocasting and file transfer.

The current version uses a Java-based stand-alone client that works on multiple operating systems. Eventually, the entire system will be completely Web-based, Jackson said. The next phase of NSA certification is expected in early 2007.

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