By Robert PursellNovember 20, 2006
(SUFFOLK, Va. - Nov. 16, 2006) -- U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) recently reached the next milestone in the development of a tool that will help open even more lines of communication for the joint warfighter.
The Cross Domain Collaborative Information Environment (CDCIE) completed phase one of the National Security Agency (NSA) Certification Test and Evaluation (CT&E). Phase one testing was designed to ensure CDCIE provides access to the warfighter wherever secure cross-domain text chat is required.
CDCIE is a standards-based, non-proprietary, secure, scalable, collaborative information environment designed to enable cost effective multinational information sharing (MNIS). It allows for this in both single and cross network domain environments and also allows use between the warfighter and the U.S. interagency community.
USJFCOM's Ken Hartlein, Joint Innovation and Experimentation Directorate (J9) capability engineering branch test and evaluations lead, explained the significance of the completion of the first phase. "It's got a green flag on it by NSA so that removes an element of risk from the warfighter's job that he doesn't have to mess with," he said.
According to Army Maj. Jim Jackson, the J9's capability engineering branch software and systems engineering lead, one of the main objectives of CDCIE is to help strengthen ties with other members of military coalitions by breaking down some of the communication barriers that exist.
"The biggest place where this makes sense is where you have U.S. personnel on classified networks, and then you have coalition personnel on the coalition network," said Jackson. "The problem is that our coalition partners can't touch the U.S. secret network for obvious reasons, but we still want to communicate."
"Not everyone in Iraq has a coalition workstation on their desktop," he said. "What happens is the war gets prosecuted on the high side [classified domain] and our coalition partners are left standing (behind) saying 'hey, can you give us some information'' which is not what we want. That's not a coalition."
Some of the features that CDCIE uses to communicate more effectively include;
AfAcAc'A!A,Ac a buddy list of the user's key contacts
AfAcAc'A!A,Ac chat rooms that allow users to talk to more than one other user simultaneously
AfAcAc'A!A,Ac translation systems for multinational use
AfAcAc'A!A,Ac message alerts which provides a mechanism to monitor multiple sessions for keywords and
notify the user if any are received in to a single display
AfAcAc'A!A,Ac and the ability to work on multiple operating systems
Additional features that developers look to add onto future versions of the CDCIE include a community whiteboard, audio casting, file transfer, additional web services to help customize user interface, and making it completely Web-based.
Jackson discussed the major difference between a Web-based version of CDCIE and a stand alone one.
"Our next version will have a Web-based client, meaning that you just need a browser to access it," said Jackson. "Our current version is a stand alone client that you install using Java which allows use on a number of operating systems. Both versions will have the same capabilities."
The first phase proved that warfighters who have requirements to share information across a security domain -- for example, between a computer on an unclassified network and a computer on a classified network -- now have an additional and certified capability available to them.
USJFCOM continues to develop CDCIE for additional phases of the CT&E by the NSA, with the next phase coming in early 2007. Ongoing development and phases of testing and evaluation are on a timeline beyond that.