Gates orders increased data sharing to protect military families

Shootings at Fort Hood inspire policy change

In a bid to prevent attacks on military bases, such as last November’s mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has ordered a coordinated cyberspace counterintelligence policy to better identify military personnel who may pose a threat.

Scheduled to go into effect this month, the policy was based on recommendations made by an independent review panel that studied the shooting. Led by Togo West Jr., who headed the Veterans Affairs Department during the Clinton administration, the panel determined that security on military bases was weakened because the services do not have access to the National Crime Information Center or the Terrorist Threat Screening Database.

The policy memo noted that the services have launched projects to screen personnel who appear on law enforcement databases on NCIC and the TTSD. Gates also endorsed using the Law Enforcement National Data Exchange, and adopting the FBI’s eGuardian terrorist threat reporting system to share information on suspected terrorist threats with civilian agencies and state and local law enforcement.

Related story:

National Data Exchange lets FBI cast its net wider, deeper

Among the initiatives outlined in the memo, programs will be launched to provide commanders and supervisors with access to appropriate information in personnel records, improve information sharing with partner agencies and among installations, and expand facility emergency response capabilities.

Gates has directed that the current Naval Criminal Investigative Service system will be the basis for establishing the consolidated Law Enforcement Defense Data Exchange. Each of the Defense Department’s 13 law enforcement agencies are participating in developing D-DEx, which is scheduled for department-wide deployment in the 2011 fiscal year.

The independent review recommended that DOD require military departments and defense agencies to establish formal information sharing agreements with allied and partner agencies; federal, state, and local law enforcement; and criminal investigation agencies. These agreements must have clearly established standards regarding their scope and timelines. Based on the review’s recommendations, Gates indicated that by September 2011, a lead agency will be appointed to develop DOD guidance for creating formal agreements with other federal, state and local organizations.

Another recommendation being acted upon is the adoption of a common force protection threat reporting system and the appointment of a single executive agent to oversee and manage it. The Gates memo stated that overseeing organization responsible for implementing Defensewide use of the eGuardian system will be in place by this November.

Force protection also remains a challenge. The review found that there were no force protection processes or procedures to share unclassified real- time event data between commands, installations, and force components. The memorandum calls for laying the foundation to enable real-time information sharing for force protection. The Joint Staff is directed to evaluate the current incident reporting system used by the National Military Command Center (NMCC) and update the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Manual no later than April 2011.

By January 2011 the services must have all their organizations trained in NMCC reporting systems and by April 2011, the combatant commands must have an unclassified method to notify all DOD facilities within their areas of responsibility of a change in force protection status.

To ensure information-sharing capabilities for access control to installations, the memo instructs the services to accelerate implementing automated access control capabilities to facilitate the authentication of personnel. Areas of acceleration include improving enterprise architecture and technologies associated with the Physical Access Control System, improved access to law enforcement data bases such as the NCIC or TSDB, and capabilities to permit information sharing across the DOD.

A current study of existing physical access control system capabilities and limitations, and a related joint Justice Department and DOD NCIC access test, will be completed by January 2011. The Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence will then evaluate and update physical security policies by December 2011.


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