The views expressed here are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense or the United States government.
The technology transformation thrusting societies from the industrial age to the new information age has caused government agencies and organizations to review their ability to influence the military, political, and economic domains because digital technology has changed the strategic environment. The acceleration of advanced technologies in the last 25 years has provided faster, real-time worldwide information exchange with minimum delays with the power to change economic, military and political power distribution.
In 1998, the late Vice Adm. Arthur K. Cebrowski wrote a white paper discussing the importance of why and how the Department of Defense should prepare for net-centric warfare. Net-centric warfare is a doctrine defined by information advantage, enabled in part by information technology, resulting in competitive advantage through the robust computer networking of well-informed geographically dispersed forces. In this concept, net-centric warfare enables forces to organize from the bottom-up or to self-synchronize to meet the commander's intent, according to Cebrowski. Therefore, government agencies and organizations must provide net-centric capabilities to maintain situational awareness and to lead in net-centric warfare.
In fact, government agencies and the DoD must utilize net-centric concepts to be ready to protect and defend U.S. national security interests, Cebrowski wrote.
There are several types of net-centric concepts that government organizations and DoD have used (or will use) that have affected government missions, operations, and command and control collaborations. An early net-centric concept like Global Information Grid (GIG), and the current Joint Information Environment (JIE) concept, impact DoD missions (C2 and deployment), operations, and the ability to collaborate by providing integration of systems and networks.
But due to cybersecurity vulnerabilities and the risk of cyber-attacks that can occur by integrating multiple networks, net-centric implementation may be resisted by some leaders, who may also wish to retain system funding, wrote Judith S. Kerner and Eltefaat Shokri, in an article titled, “Cybersecurity Challenges in a Net-centric World,” in Crosslink® magazine.
For example, net-centric warfare provides inter-connectivity, but if one computer experiences a cyber-attack, then everyone on the network is vulnerable and the entire enterprise may be at risk. Other security vulnerabilities may be in the supply chain because it is easier for an adversary to infiltrate a large number of computers from one supplier than to infiltrate computers from several different suppliers, according to Kerner & Shokri. Therefore, network integration should be carefully managed and implemented, they advise.
The Path to Integration
The DoD has implemented the GIG concept for the most part. The GIG is defined as a global interconnecting capability for end-to-end users to support the warfighter. The GIG has impacted the DoD missions like maritime operations and deployment of forces by providing net-centricity. Net-centricity is the realization of a networked environment that enables a completely different approach to warfighting and business operations. For example, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, net-centric capabilities gave the United States a powerful military force enabled by information superiority using the Global Command and Control Service (GCCS) and Defense Information System Network (DISN), wrote Lt. Gen. Harry D. Raduege Jr., then director of the Defense Information Systems Agency, in an article titled, “Net-Centric Warfare Is Changing the Battlefield Environment” for CrossTalk Magazine online.
GCCS is a system that tracks every friendly force tank, plane, ship and soldier in the battlespace in real time, plotting and mapping their positions as they move. In addition, it also provides real-time intelligence assessment. This allows for easier accountability and tracking of military assets and quicker delivery of capability in theatre. GCCS allowed quicker deployment of forces and resources to maintain situational awareness during combat operations while the DISN allowed collaborations of telecommunications to and from the warfighter to the commander, according to Raduege.
Next Level of Net-Centricity: JIE
Although the GIG enabled the concept of net-centricity, the Joint Information Environment promises to take net-centricity to the next level. The JIE is essential to bringing to bear the power of the DoD enterprise across the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. A standard, unified information environment is necessary to meet the operational and security requirements of modern joint military operations, according to JIE 101.
The JIE represents the largest restructuring of information technology management in the history of the DoD. The end state is intended to be a secure, joint information environment comprised of shared IT infrastructure, enterprise services, and a single security architecture. JIE will enable DoD to achieve full-spectrum superiority, improve mission effectiveness, increase security, and realize IT efficiencies, according to DISA.
In 2012, for example, the Army started migrating to the new DoD enterprise email, but the Army had problems at first with upgrading configurations. After the configurations were updated, DISA was able to implement other services into the Army’s enterprise email which has provided the Army with additional gateways for collaboration tools, according to Army Information Technology. This allows Army commands to collaborate with one tool instead of separate ones that are not interoperable with each other.
Use of the JIE can also change future operations. For example, cyber will no longer just be an enabler to weapons, but it will become a warfighting domain with the ability to be weaponized for future operations. This will change operations from being conducted only in the air, ground and sea domains to being conducted in every domain simultaneously while also using non-kinetic assets. In fact, DISA is continuously looking for ways to strengthen cybersecurity and maintain superiority in the information environment by providing a more secure infrastructure, according to the DISA Strategic Plan. For example, in 2013, DISA created the first Enterprise Operations Center in Stuttgart, Germany. This first EOC is responsible for managing access to the JIE enterprise within the areas of responsibility for the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) and the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).
The JIE EOC serves as the single entry point and primary executor for DoD Information Network (DoDIN) operations, as well as defensive cyber operations, in designated areas of support. End-state services provided by the EOCs will include providing support to core data centers and assuming operational missions from other EOCs in a failover capacity. Eventually, EOCs will provide computer network defense capabilities for DoD enterprise entities regardless of service affiliation, according to DISA.
Overall, the GIG and JIE are net-centric concepts that have and will keep influencing DoD missions, operations and collaboration by providing readily available information, better joint collaboration tools, and increased information superiority for the warfighter. However, DoD must be cognizant of how, when and where to implement net-centric concepts. In addition, DoD must be diligent in regard to the supply chain and network vulnerabilities.
Lt. Cmdr. Hannah Bealon is a U.S. Navy space cadre officer at Joint Functional Component Command for Space (JFCC Space) where she performs space and cyberspace planning for space and NASA entities while developing new space technology. She is also an Information Professional officer. Bealon has a master's degree in Information Systems.