DOD stresses network strength

'We will spread [servers] throughout the Pentagon so that loss of a wedge won't take everything down,' DOD's John Osterholz says.

Olivier Douliery

Defense CIO John Stenbit says the systems focus has been on making sure DOD 'can function when people are trying to make us not function.'

Henrik G. DeGyor

Better, faster, clearer data delivery is the way to move from 'brute force to precision'

Two months after the Sept. 11 assault, the Pentagon established a Contingency of Operations program to assure basic systems functions and provide data access at sites across the country in the event of another attack.

Simultaneously, Defense Department brass began working on a smaller project'the Command Communications Survivability Program'to build backup networks and communications inside the Pentagon. The goal of the $400 million CCSP is to provide redundancy and recoverability for networks, mainframes, voice and message systems, said John Osterholz, director of architecture and interoperability in the department's CIO office.

With CCSP, Defense networks would be available to military users at the Pentagon no matter where they work in the building or what area might be damaged by an attack.

'Data was contained within local servers and enclaves that were inaccessible' following the Sept. 11 attack, Osterholz said. 'We will spread [servers] throughout the Pentagon so that loss of a wedge won't take everything down.'

The airliner that crashed into the Pentagon temporarily took out one of two major communications lines in the building. In the days and weeks after the attack, military personnel relocated to other federal buildings, but many had no access to their data files or e-mail accounts.

'What we found was that on Sept. 11 we could move our people, but the data they needed to do their job was left behind,' Osterholz said. 'The data needed to be rescued. Data tapes were not a smart thing to do.'

The plans for making data more pliable have accelerated work on the department's Global Information Grid Bandwidth Expansion Program. GIG-BE is supposed to bring much-needed bandwidth to the department.

The GIG-BE WAN will deliver high-speed classified and unclassified IP and asynchronous transfer mode services to about 87 Defense locations worldwide. Every site will have a LAN supporting an OC-192 rate of 10 Gbps.

Although the attacks gave renewed impetus to DOD's network-centric planning, most of it began before Sept. 11, Defense CIO John Stenbit said.

'I think before the 11th the Quadrennial Defense Review was coming down firmly in that direction, and after the 11th, everybody decided that whatever we thought we were doing, we should do more quickly,' he said. 'I mean the Pentagon being hit by itself clearly had an impact on our view of whether we had it all done right or not. So I think that part of it is the issue of how do we make sure we can function when people are trying to make us not function.'

The answer lies in mirroring networks and communications by revamping the IT infrastructure in the Pentagon and throughout the department, Stenbit and other Defense officials said.

Beefing up satellites

Additionally, the department wants to add antijamming capabilities to its Global Positioning System. The Office of the Secretary of Defense is reviewing the plan and must give its approval. To assure it has adequate bandwidth during war efforts, the Pentagon also has become increasingly reliant on commercial satellites and leased communications services.

The dependence on satellite services has driven these efforts, Stenbit said, adding that with GPS there's the realization that 'we better make sure that it works when we need it.'

Another focus has been to enforce security policies that for the most part existed before Sept. 11, but perhaps weren't strictly adhered to.

One example is the National Security Telecommunications and Information Systems Security Policy No. 11. It requires agencies buying computers to handle national security data only with approved information assurance products.

'The policy itself has transition statements and grandfather clauses and all of the normal stuff that keeps it from being black-and-white, but it is our intention that it be enforced,' Stenbit said.

Assuredly so

The mandate changes information assurance from an afterthought in the procurement process to a primary consideration, he said.

New policies are also in the works'for instance, for wireless devices.

Stenbit's staff is drafting a policy detailing use rules for wireless technologies. It's likely that some devices will be off-limits inside the Pentagon.

Shifts in the way the military fights and how it uses technology will be lasting, Stenbit said.
'This whole strategic world is changing from sort of brute force to precision. And when you do that you need better information, faster, distributed more reliably in the face of more jamming'even in the face of someone throwing a nuclear weapon around so that your electronics might break,' he said.

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