Pentagon releases mobility implementation plan


The Defense Department has a new plan for acquiring and using commercial mobile devices. (Stock image)

The Defense Department on Feb. 26 released a new commercial mobile device implementation plan, which will set up framework and guidelines for Pentagon purchases of smart phones, tablets, apps and other mobile capabilities.

The plan focuses on three key areas – mobile devices, wireless infrastructure and mobile applications – and keeps flexibility as a top priority in order to keep up with fast-changing technology. In all, the framework will equip 600,000 mobile-device users with secure classified and protected unclassified devices. It provides a phased structure, allowing small-scale pilot programs so that lessons learned can be incorporated as implementations scale up.

Building from DOD's mobility strategy released last June, the plan includes directives to establish wireless voice, video and data capabilities across DOD by October 2013. It also calls for a 90-day approval cycle for mobile devices and operating systems, and includes guidance for the use of personal devices within the DOD environment. Additionally, the plan creates a Defense Information Systems Agency program office, due by fiscal 2014, charged with overseeing procurement, implementing initial enterprise mobility capabilities and providing DOD with classified and unclassified requirements and guidelines.

“The goal is an operating system that we can use on the unclassified and leverage onto the classified with security built into it,” said John Hickey, program manager for DOD mobility at DISA. Hickey spoke to reporters Feb. 26 at the Pentagon, along with Maj. Gen. Robert Wheeler, DOD deputy CIO for control, communications and computers and information infrastructure.

What's unknown so far is precisely what devices will be in the hands of troops and Pentagon personnel, whether that will be an iPhone, an Android device or a Blackberry – or a combination thereof. Currently, DOD has 470,000 Blackberrys, 41,000 Apple devices and 8,700 Android devices.

"We're device-agnostic. What we're looking for is a family of devices that are available, depending on the operator," Wheeler said. "And we're going to continue to update as they update."

In a Pentagon announcement detailing the new plan, DOD CIO Teri Takai indicated that the mobile devices will be used to decrease costs, capitalize on current technology trends and act as a force multiplier.

"The Department of Defense is taking a leadership role in leveraging mobile device technology by ensuring its workforce is empowered with mobile devices," Takai said. "As today’s DOD personnel increasingly rely on mobile technology as a key capability enabler for joint force combat operations, the application of mobile technology into global operations, integration of secure and non-secure communications, and development of portable, cloud-enabled capability will dramatically increase the number of people able to collaborate and share information rapidly."

Takai, under the plan's provisions, has until May to begin working with DISA to streamline the security approval processes for devices.

The overall guidance pulls together elements of a number of different agencies and efforts – among them, National Security Agency standards for secure classified devices, pilot programs from across DOD and the departmentwide Joint Information Environment, to which devices will be tied.

The strategy and plan "aim to align the various mobile devices, pilots and initiatives across DOD under common objectives to ensure the warfighter benefits from these activities and aligns with efforts in the [JIE]," Takai said. "This is not simply about embracing the newest technology – it is about keeping the department's workforce relevant in an era when information accessibility and cybersecurity play a critical role in mission success."

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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