Creating a more agile Defense Department info-tech enterprise.

Author:Takai, Teri

* Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in January released guidance that outlines a plan for shaping U.S. defense strategy. The purpose is to achieve a joint force that "will be more agile, more flexible, ready to deploy quickly, innovative and technologically advanced."

However, in order for the joint force to change, the Defense Department's information technology environment must change.

The Defense Department's chief information officer is responsible for overseeing the enterprise and ensuring that the department's networks and information sharing are as secure, effective and efficient as possible and that the technology is accessible and dependable in the face of any threat--physical or cyber--by any adversary.

The current Defense Department information technology environment is vast and complex. The approximately $37 billion requested by the department for fiscal year 2013 includes funding for a range of products such as desktop computers, tactical radios, identity management technology, human resource applications, commercial satellite communications and Financial management systems. On the unclassified network alone, it has more than 3.6 million users on more than 7 million computers.

Currently, each military service builds its own information infrastructure. These infrastructures are connected by a common network, and all share certain core information services. However, there is ample room for improvement. The complex interconnected nature of the networks means that it is difficult, or in some situations impossible, for a joint commander to obtain accurate situational awareness of all of the networks supporting his or her mission.

The joint force described in the secretary's new guidance will be smaller than before, but no less formidable. The keyword is "agile." The new joint force will be able to respond to threats and meet objectives while engaged in larger operations elsewhere. It will be technologically superior and better networked than before. Improving communications and infrastructure means easier information sharing and faster response times, which allows for smarter, better informed decisions at the tactical edge.

In 2011, the deputy secretary of defense signed the IT Enterprise Strategy and Roadmap, which is a set of initiatives that are aimed at achieving two primary goals: to make the department more secure against cyberattacks and to reduce costs and improve the agility of its information technology and networks by...

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