By Sharon Rushen and Kristen Kushiyama (CERDEC)September 3, 2010
TAMPA, Fla. - When it comes to our deployed Soldiers and ensuring they are equipped with the best, most efficient technologies, military organizations, like the Research, Development and Engineering Command's communications-electronics center, must consider the past, present and future.
Government and military organizations joined industry and academia at the 2010 LandWarNet conference Aug 3 - 6 to talk cyber security in the constantly changing cyber landscape and ensure present efforts effectively build on the past and pave the way for the future.
Accentuating the importance of networked communications in today's battlefield environment, U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. William Lord, chief of Warfighting Integration and chief information officer of the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force and luncheon speaker, said, "wire power is fire power."
In an age where communications tools are often wireless, equipping our on-the-ground Army with such "wire power," is a challenge due to the constant movement of deployed Soldiers, according to George Brick, chief of CERDEC's Cyber Security and Information Assurance division.
In addition to the obstacles presented by tactical communications, the rapidly evolving cyber environment creates challenges in ensuring communications tools are secure and relevant, according to Giorgio Bertoli, chief of CERDEC's Offensive Information Operations branch.
"Jeff Goldblum cannot hack the mother ship with his IBM laptop," said Bertoli during a briefing on cyber security.
While Bertoli used an unconventional approach to talk cyber security, his poke at the 1996 film "Independence Day" rang true to his audience, who received it with laughter. Consistent to the focus of Bertoli's briefing, the reflection was an accurate representation of the evolving cyber environment.
The standing-room-only audience joined Bertoli and Brick to hear how the technologies and capabilities being developed and adapted at CERDEC provide both "offensive" and "defensive" strategies for network warfare.
CERDEC's Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate, where Bertoli works, assesses and collects information about adversaries' networks in order to attack those networks and maintain cyber situational awareness. Conversely, CERDEC's Space and Terrestrial Communications Directorate where Brick's division is assigned, maintains and protects the U.S. Warfighters' networks.
The foundation from which these cyber technologies and capabilities are developed is based on a fair amount of previous research, development and knowledge sharing within the CERDEC organization. In order to remain technologically relevant while planning ahead for the future, it is important to capitalize on CERDEC's human capital by collecting, storing and transferring employees' knowledge to their successors, according to Grace Keslar, knowledge management team lead, CERDEC Chief Information Office.
This initiative is part of the center's Knowledge Harvesting Program for which the CERDEC Knowledge Management/Knowledge Capture team received the Knowledge Management Award for the "People" category from the Army CIO/G-6 at LandWarNet.
Knowledge sharing efforts, like those demonstrated by Keslar's team, have a valuable place in the future, especially in efforts to move forward in developing Army applications for commercial technologies.
Such efforts were a key component of the Apps for the Army challenge, the Army's first-ever mobile phone application development contest hosted by the Army's Chief Information Officer Lt. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sorenson and the G-6.
The challenge was designed for Army Soldiers and engineers to use minimal requirements to submit software applications for phones in specific categories, including morale, welfare and recreation; Army mission; information access; location awareness and training.
"This pilot program is helping define the business processes needed to make it easier to develop applications and certify software for the Army enterprise," Sorenson said in a press release.
CERDEC engineers, working in the Software Oriented Architecture Center of Excellence provided support throughout the Apps for the Army competition. The SOA team interviewed applicants, served as technical advisors, ensured that the applications ran correctly, performed certification testing to make sure there were no vulnerabilities and configured the operating environments.
During a luncheon at the LandWarNet conference, Sorenson presented 15 application-designers with awards; 1st, 2nd and 3rd-place in the five categories. Additionally, the Army plans to look further into the commercial technology sector in the future.
"We are going to move forward to figure out how we can take better advantage of the commercial sector," Sorenson said.