3 Joint Staff Takeaways from MILCOM 2015

Number 3 Fingers_CroppedMark Wisingerby Mark Wisinger, Analyst

Joint Staff J6 Director Lt. Gen. Mark Bowman recently spoke at MILCOM 2015 with DOD topics such as the Joint Information Environment (JIE), the Joint Regional Security Stack (JRSS), and interoperability top of mind. These reflections shed light on the Joint Staff’s IT priorities and challenges.

Here are the three main takeaways that COTS vendors and channel partners (large and small) will find of value:

  1. Common Architecture

At this juncture, Lt. Gen. Bowman believes the DOD’s JIE should be more advanced — progress is not moving fast enough. He indicated that there is a need for common architecture, especially an architecture than can be controlled by the Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) via the DOD Information Network Joint Force Headquarters (DODIN-JFHQ). Open and compatible architecture is a continuing challenge for the DOD at large. Ensure your product messaging emphasizes compatibility, as this is the key element the Joint Staff is looking for in COTS products.

  1. Interoperability and Information Sharing

Lt. Gen. Bowman identified interoperability as “issue number one” for the Joint Staff. He indicated that breaking down stovepipes was an essential measure to harness interoperability’s advantages. The director also dictated: “speed is the force multiplier” – interoperable networks allow joint forces to more rapidly access information. The director further expressed there isn’t enough interoperability between service branches.

Regarding the Joint Regional Security Stack, Lt. Gen. Bowman confirmed that due to a lack of information sharing between agencies, no one in DOD is actually using JRSS 2.0 at present — this is a necessary component of JRSS 2.0. He emphasized the critical need for “real-time” information sharing as well as “end-to-end” network vision and management. The Joint Staff J6 has since made network visibility and management a real priority for COTS procurement in FY15 and FY16.

  1. Increased Software Pilots

An often-discussed DOD topic is the outdated methodology for IT procurement. Lt. Gen. Bowman stated that buying IT should not match buying tanks. He offered a better methodology: “buy a little, test a little, change a little.” This is reflective of the model of pilot testing of new software or hardware before wide-scale deployment. He explained the Joint Staff J6 must leverage IT investments intelligently and that he expects the next remarkable technology to emerge from a small company.

The director also highlighted the adoption of the NSA’s Commercial Solutions for Classified encryption, so expect this to trickle down to other pockets throughout DOD. For large COTS vendors, look into partnering with innovative, smaller companies offering unique technologies. For smaller COTS vendors, understand that the Joint Staff is certainly interested in innovative technologies and prefers to scale up implementation from pilot to full scale.

As you can see, the Joint Staff has functional requirements for interoperability, network visibility/administration, and information sharing that the COTS community can help them meet by leveraging these areas of interest.

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