Army CIO sets revised course

Sorenson's plans include a focus on cyber ops and knowledge management

A year into his role as the Army's chief information officer, Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Sorenson is pushing to sharpen and shift the focus of the Army's information technology operations.

The new emphasis is on building the Army's enterprisewide information technology capabilities as quickly as possible, he said at the LandWarNet conference this week.

Although the 500-day plan he inherited from his predecessor, Lt. Gen. Steven Boutelle, remains a foundation for the Army's IT strategy, Sorenson is channeling energy and increasingly limited resources into four areas:
  • Building the Army's Network Service Centers.
  • Putting a new emphasis on cyber operations and preparing for cyberwarfare.
  • Enhancing knowledge management under the direction of a new data chief.
  • Completing elements of the Army's program objective memorandum for 2010-2015.

'Things like information assurance are still very important,' Sorenson said, 'but we'll never get to the most important [issues] on time if we only adhere to the 500-day plan.'

In particular, he noted the importance of concentrating on cyber operations and the strategies surrounding cyberwarfare, which are more implicit than explicit in the 500-day plan.

'This is not a football game, with an offense and a defense' with distinct strategies, he said. 'It's more like a soccer game ' and not with one ball but a dozen balls.'

In an interview this month with Defense Systems, one of GCN's sister publications, Sorenson said the Army is clarifying the capabilities needed by the service's 1,600 cybersecurity specialists and focusing on training them appropriately. He also said the 1st Information Operations Command in the Intelligence and Security Command is creating a new battalion at Fort Meade to conduct cyber operations.

Sorenson said another critical activity is upgrading the Army's Network Service Centers. The goal of those centers is to provide soldiers with a single e-mail address, phone number and file storage location that they can access from anywhere in the world, he said. Currently, those assignments change every time a soldier moves to a new base or battle zone.

Therefore, Sorenson said, the Army is continuing to overhaul its networking and data-center strategy, which includes establishing five regional nodes serving the major continental commands and moving data and applications from hundreds of bases to a handful of Area Processing Centers.

Sorenson said the Army still has a long way to go. The service's IT operations remain fragmented, nonstandardized, unsecured and expensive, he said. The push now is to aggregate and standardize systems and eventually move to a single, enterprisewide system.

Another critical goal on his list is enhancing the Army's knowledge management capabilities. The CIO's office released a set of 12 principles on Aug. 11 to guide the Army's efforts. It also realigned the reporting structure within the office, giving Robert Kazimer responsibility for improving data quality. His title is now director of the Governance, Acquisition and Chief Knowledge Office.

However, Sorenson said, the uncertainty the department faces with regard to funding is complicating his efforts. 'We are getting half of the budget' recently available, he said. 'And the election will result in a lot of new priorities.'

At the same time, the pressures to improve enterprise services are mounting. 'We're no longer net-enabled but net-dependent,' he said.

About the Author

Wyatt Kash served as chief editor of GCN (October 2004 to August 2010) and also of Defense Systems (January 2009 to August 2010). He currently serves as Content Director and Editor at Large of 1105 Media.

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