Integrated Cyber Network Will Save Lives, DoD Official Says

By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service

HAMPTON, Va., April 6, 2006  - The Defense Department is working to create an integrated information network that enables all military components to easily share critical data, a DoD official said here yesterday.

"The quintessential example of the flexibility brought by the network is the Special Forces operator on horseback in Afghanistan being provided close-air support by B-52s, through communication with a hand-held (device) connected to the network" Linton Wells II, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for networks and information integration, said at the 2006 U.S. Joint Forces Command Industry Symposium.

A global information network will provide easy access to information in a collaborative cyber environment, he said, which would "turn knowledge into action." He said it is vital to joint operations that the 2.9 million Defense Department-owned computers are all connected and traditional stovepipe information dissemination is eliminated.

Network-centric operations will create shared situational awareness, he said, which will enable commanders, units and individuals to "self-synchronize" their action without having to go through a time-consuming hierarchical process.

"This has been demonstrated in exercises, and real-world experiences have shown that it will save lives and improve performance every day," he said. "We have to be able to give the commander confidence that he will be able to use his networks and have the information he or she needs when the chips are down."

Wells also talked about the importance of creating an integrated network to share information with nonmilitary entities, such as nongovernmental organizations, aid networks and private industry. He said sharing information across government, military and private-sector areas will be essential in properly responding to certain events, like natural disasters.

He also touched on security concerns involved in such an operation by explaining that nonmilitary organizations will only have access to certain information and "will never get within our firewall." This type of integrated network would operate under a set of predetermined rules, he said, and suggested that one solution might be to place information for public consumption on networks outside the .mil or .gov domains.

"People will know they can come there and get whatever it is the government wants to share, and they know that if they post stuff there, things will work out and people can get what they want," Wells said.


Linton Wells II []

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