Defense to unveil GIG plans

The Defense Department soon will unveil a blueprint for connecting all its facilities a global network for warfighters

The Defense Department soon will unveil a blueprint for connecting all of its bases to a global network for warfighters, said Priscilla Guthrie, the department's deputy chief information officer today.

"The intent is one network," said Guthrie, speaking at a breakfast meeting hosted by Input. "We should have plans any day now for latching up every post, camp and station on [the Defense Information System Network] to the [Global Information Grid]."

The Global Information Grid Bandwidth Expansion (GIG-BE) is a cornerstone of DOD. The department's CIO John Stenbit said he has a vision for net-centric operations in which data is posted on one network and made available departmentwide. The project will give the DISN support for high-speed OC-192 (10 gigabits/sec) lines at all classification levels, bringing the intelligence and command and control communities onto a single infrastructure.

Defense officials expect that a ubiquitous, secure, robust optical IP network supporting all information classification levels should be achieved in fiscal 2005 for more than 90 sites. The department plans to eventually have more than 600 sites on DISN.

The ultimate goal of making sure that "everyone and everything" related to defense is on the same network requires more reliance on commercial standards, Guthrie said. "The intent is to move the department as much as possible to" commercial, off-the-shelf technology, she said.

Guthrie believes those commercial products should include information assurance, but there is an ongoing debate among defense officials about using off-the-shelf items to protect communications and data, she said.

There is also a "huge, bureaucratic structural process that needs to be revamped," in order to quickly certify plug-ins for the network, Guthrie said.

In addition to GIG-BE, the Transformational Communications System (TCS) and the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) will form the backbone of a net-centric environment that allows users to get information on demand, she said.

TCS will combine upcoming systems, like the Advanced Extremely High Frequency system, with satellites that will use new technologies such as laser communications and Internet protocols.

The Joint Tactical radios can be programmed for any waveform, making them more flexible than current radios, which are limited to specific frequency ranges that differ for each military branch.

On the applications front, Guthrie said the department will demonstrate some projects in its Horizontal Fusion portfolio in about two weeks. That program is designed to identify and fund "programs of record" that allows for posting data quickly, to be found and digested by analysts in the field. In the past, analysts processed and analyzed data before distributing it.

As an example, the Navy currently has a system that allows its ships to share radar data and Guthrie said that information should be made available to anyone in the department who could use it.