DOD releases homeland defense blueprint

The Defense Department has released its first structured plan to guard the country against terrorist attack, and the need to build integrated, interoperable information technology systems is drummed home repeatedly in the 46-page strategic document.

The Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support outlines DOD's role in thwarting attacks, protecting critical Defense infrastructures and enhancing situational awareness among federal, state and local authorities. It lays out a 10-year transformational plan to implement an active, layered defense strategy.

Gordon England, the acting deputy secretary of Defense, called the strategy "the next significant milestone in reshaping the department's approach to homeland defense."

The document emphasizes the department's growing reliance on integrated information technology systems and programs to defeat asymmetrical threats. It mentions DOD's role in posting information to the Global Information Grid "to achieve maximum awareness of threats" and the need to better integrate mission areas across DOD with civilian authorities.

The plan also stresses a stronger need for interoperable IT systems to share pertinent training, planning and mission information across the department and with other federal, state and local agencies to standardize operational concepts and coordinate budget planning for homeland missions.

"The department will promote the integration and sharing of applicable DOD capabilities, equipment and technologies with federal, state, local and tribal authorities and the private sector. Sharing technology, capabilities and expertise strengthens the nation's ability to respond to hostile threats and domestic emergencies," the plan says.

To accomplish the goal of interoperability requires an investment in three technology categories: advanced information and communications, new generations of sensors and nonlethal capabilities.

"Whether the objective is improved maritime domain awareness and operations, interception of weapons of mass destruction, response to chemical or biological attacks or continuity of operations and government, improvement in information technology is critical to addressing current capability shortfalls," according to the guide.

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."

DOD is also 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.

To accomplish a common air surveillance picture requires the development of advanced technology sensors to detect and track low-altitude air vehicles across a wide geographic area, according to the plan.

"Of particular note is the importance of space and cyberspace to U.S. net-centric capabilities," the document reads. "An active, layered defense requires a trustworthy information system, impervious to disabling digital or physical attacks. Computer network defense must ensure that networks can self-diagnose problems and build immunity to future attacks. At the same time, networks must remain operational and consistently available for the execution of U.S. military missions."

To build integrated and interoperable computer architectures, Defense is working with the Homeland Security Department to develop intelligence analytical capabilities. This entails sharing training and simulation technologies and unmanned aerial vehicles for civilian surveillance along the nation's borders, officials said.

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