WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 9, 2015) -- Secure communications with partners during missions and safeguarding now-vulnerable networks are reasons to have a more secure joint information environment, or JIE, across the government, the Army's chief information officer said.

"Right now we have too many disparate networks. We have too many vulnerabilities for our adversaries to exploit," said Lt. Gen. Robert S. Ferrell, the Army's G-6, during an Association of the United States Army, or AUSA, sponsored panel discussion, July 9.

"We have too many barriers and firewalls between our partners, and we are limited by capacity and diversity," he said. "The bottom line is that today we do not have a joint network and that makes JIE an operational imperative."

Moving forward in a JIE is something all the military services must do, he said, during the one-day session about the Army network.

One of the most visible components of the Army's move to JIE is the network modernization effort, which includes the Joint Regional Security Stack, or JRSS, which performs "firewall functions, intrusion detection and prevention, enterprise management and virtual routing and forwarding," Ferrell said.

In JRSS, there is "multitenancy," where multiple agencies are connected, said Maj. Gen. John B. Morrison, Jr., commanding general, U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command.

"The biggest challenge we ran into was culture and trust," Morrison said. "Everybody wanted to have their own box and not give permissions to somebody else who they didn't quite know."

Panelist Maj. Gen. Bruce T. Crawford, commanding general, U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, said there were some "bad habits" picked up over the past 14 years of war. Those bad habits include limitations on tech sharing.

"We're not going to be able to do business the way we've been doing business," he said.

"We got to now somehow come to grips with meeting somewhere near the middle," Crawford said. "We are nowhere near that right now in terms of our ability to sustain ourselves and balancing that with some of the tech sharing agreements that we have on the books right now."

JIE CRITICAL IN TODAY'S WORLD

Ferrell highlighted the importance of JIE - a single, joint network with a shared infrastructure, which includes one security architecture that the entire Department of Defense network would use.

He said, "The bottom line: the JIE is absolutely the fundamental of the Army's way ahead and partnership remains a key for us to getting there."

JIE allows for uninterrupted mission command with joint partners, regardless of location or operations, he said. The right partnerships are needed across DOD and industry to make JIE work, he said.

The Army is taking a "broad, strategic approach to JIE," said Ferrell, noting that many of the key elements in the Army Operating Concept are aligned with JIE.

The joint information environment is "ultimately to provide the strategic anchor that supports our Army operational efforts," he said.

It will enable expeditionary mission command, en route communications for deploying forces, for deployed forces to "leverage the power of the network from anywhere on the globe," and enable a "reach forward to provide our deployed forces information they need, when they need it, in any environment," Ferrell said.

Top priorities of the Army and DOD include multiprotocol label switching, or MPLS, technologies, and the Joint Management System, he said.

"But most importantly, we remember that JIE is not just about stats, routers, and data centers," Ferrell said. "JIE is about operational impact."