U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) signed a CRADA, a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, May 9 to explore ways to improve the command's Knowledge and Information Fusion Exchange (KnIFE) program.
A CRADA is a legal agreement between a government entity and one or more nongovernment parties, such as private industry or academia. CRADAs offer both parties an opportunity to leverage each other's resources when conducting mutually beneficial research and development (R&D). Both parties share the risks and benefits of collaborative R&D by working together.
The goal of a USJFCOM CRADA is to create a partnership that accelerates R&D efforts to meet joint warfighting capability requirements.
KnIFE is a series of databases that provides the warfighter with lessons learned in the global war on terrorism. It also serves as an information exchange program, in which databases are connected to a secure Web site and a staffed call center.
Army Col. David Belcher, JFCOM's principal investigator for the Microsoft CRADA said KnIFE uses Freeware tailored for mission specific uses. Other software includes Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft SQL database and government off-the-shelf software.
The agreement will allow USJFCOM to integrate and explore new technologies and solutions to support KnIFE, while allowing Microsoft to test new technology in an open source system.
According to Belcher, KnIFE operates on six networks. Five of the networks are classified and one is unclassified. KnIFE contains lessons learned and other relevant information, regarding counter-improvised explosive devices (C-IED).
"Users include warfighters in training (pre-deployment), warfighters deployed, and others involved in C-IED efforts," Belcher said. "In short, reaching the warfighter with up-to-date, relevant information is the KnIFE's goal."
Other features are envisioned for the future, including an advanced Web portal, advanced search capability, an advanced business intelligence application, Web site mirroring and Web site virtualization.
"The agreement has USJFCOM partnering with one of the premier software and database companies in the world to enhance a capability that we are building, the KnIFE program, a program that supports the GWOT," said Dr. Russell Richards, manager of the command's Office of Research and Technology Applications.
"KnIFE is a way to provide information to the warfighter by finding data that is relevant to what the warfighter needs, finding the sources of data, extracting the data and analyzing that information," he said.
Richards said KnIFE organizers have some key areas the CRADA will explore, such as improved data mining capability.
"Microsoft clearly has the type of capabilities, the expertise and the knowledge about how to develop those types of systems for the business world," he said.
The ultimate goal for USJFCOM is to transform KnIFE into a major knowledge center which will provide expert knowledge, according to the CRADA.
In exchange for its help, Microsoft will have access to USJFCOM's information technology personnel and various subject matter experts. Richards said the company will also benefit in other ways.
"Microsoft gains a better understanding of the problems of the Department of Defense and how they can work to support the department in solving the problems," Richards said.
"They get to enhance their work in business intelligence. They will get to apply everything they learn under this CRADA, working KnIFE, to their business intelligence software, which is a big market for them," he added.
At the official signing ceremony, USJFCOM Deputy Commander Army Lt. Gen. Bob Wood said the partnership with Microsoft is a major step for the command.
"We value this relationship as a strategic partnership because of Microsoft's ability to bring their corporate expertise to the task that we face in the joint enterprise," Wood said.
The agreement is the first CRADA between USJFCOM and Microsoft. USJFCOM has also entered into CRADAs with other industry partners, such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, L-3 Communications, Alion Science and Technology, Honeywell, SAIC and Hewlett-Packard.
For more information about USJFCOM or its Cooperative Research and Development Agreements, go to http://www.jfcom.mil.