DOD counts on interoperable systems as the key to domestic defense strategy

The strategy is 'the next significant milestone in reshaping the department's approach to homeland defense.'

'Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England

Without interoperable IT systems, the Defense Department would be up a creek without a paddle in securing the country's waterways and protecting the homeland from terrorist attacks.

Agency officials placed homeland defense among their top priorities in a recently released strategy, detailing the importance of connected systems that can share pertinent training, planning and mission information with the Homeland Security Department and other federal, state and local agencies.

'Interoperable technology will serve as a key enabler in realizing the key objectives and capabilities set forth in the strategy,' according to Defense officials.

The 40-page Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support'DOD's first structured guideline for homeland defense and civil support preparations'outlines DOD's role in thwarting attacks, protecting critical Defense infrastructures and enhancing situational awareness among federal, state and local authorities.

The strategy, which lays out a transformational plan to implement a layered defense strategy, is 'the next significant milestone in reshaping the department's approach to homeland defense,' acting deputy secretary of Defense Gordon England said.

'C4ISR: That's going to be an area that requires a fair amount of collaboration,' said James Jay Carafano, senior research fellow for national security and homeland security at the Heritage Foundation. He was referring to the military shorthand for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

DOD is reviewing technology for future modeling and simulation capabilities. The reviews include the Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrations and the Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration. During CWID, the military services test and evaluate a wide range of technologies for interoperability with federal agencies, military services and coalition countries.

The officials cited several initiatives, led by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration, to improve Defense IT processes, including Information Assurance Architecture Increment 1; the net-centric data strategy; and the development of a collapsed networking capability that supports multiple security levels.

Officials also said DOD is making strides with DHS to develop interoperable architectures and with network defenses. Through shared systems, the department would stand a better chance of having standard operational methods and coordinating the two agencies' budgets for homeland missions.

In May 2005, DOD and DHS worked together to implement their first interoperable secure network, the Homeland Secure Data Network.

The strategy recommends that DOD invest in three technology categories: advanced information and communications, new generations of sensors, and nonlethal capabilities.

Some technologies the department is reviewing include advanced modeling and simulation techniques for threat identification, pattern analysis, risk assessment and calculation of cost and benefits.

'Without these tools, the return on investments in other areas, such as improved sensors, detectors, command and control, and human intelligence collection and analysis, will be insufficient,' the document said. 'Equally pivotal are potential advances in communications technologies, particularly those supporting ground-mobile and airborne communications.'

Carafano said three priorities emerge from the strategy'maritime security, planning for catastrophic terrorism and harnessing science and technology to aid the domestic fight. Of the three, the biggest reliance on IT systems and programs will come in the maritime security realm, he added.

DOD also is planning to work with domestic and international partners in developing a persistent, wide-area surveillance and reconnaissance capability to guard the airspace within the country's borders.

DOD leaders said the current radars maintained by the Federal Aviation Administration to track air traffic within the United States are aging, have high maintenance costs and offer poor reliability and insufficient tracking capabilities.

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