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Information sharing key to Homeland Security. (President's Perspective).

The business of national defense is changing before our eyes, in ways that we never would have predicted just over a year ago. National defense today can no longer be defined in traditional terms. The rules of the game have changed, resulting in the need to write a new playbook.

For those in the business of national security, the implications of these new rules are far-reaching, to say the least.

One key reality that has emerged in the post 9/11 world is that national defense no longer means just the Defense Department or the military services. A host of "new" players are acquiring highly visible roles in U.S. anti-terrorism efforts--such as the Transportation Department and the Federal Aviation Administration. Agencies that perform intelligence collection and analysis, meanwhile, are re-evaluating and expanding their mission scope. Also, "old" players, such as the Coast Guard, which has been in the national security business for centuries, are now gaining well-deserved recognition and a more defined role in homeland protection.

Altogether, about 100 federal entities are charged with responsibilities related to homeland security. One key to their success will be how they share intelligence and the information developed from that intelligence. This will be critical to detection, analysis and preemption.

But, as we know, new agencies--as well as existing ones with new missions--tend to stove-pipe their activities, especially with respect to information. It is important to counter this tendency and to promote collaborative sharing of information.

President Bush understands this need quite well. The White House Web site, for example, (www.whitehouse.gov/homeland/21st-technology.html) prominently promotes the concept of "Information to Secure the Homeland." A stated objective is to tear down unwarranted information stovepipes within the government and to share homeland security information with states, localities and key contractors.

This is an ambitious undertaking. Fortunately, we have an abundance of advanced networking technology in the private sector that makes information sharing relatively simple. The challenge, therefore, is not in the technology, but in setting up the right organizational structures for defense and intelligence, and protocols for sharing and collaborating. That is an issue widely debated on Capitol Hill as Congress completes legislation to create the Department of Homeland Security and considers the overall placement of intelligence agencies.

Not only will the Department of Homeland Security have to integrate 22 different agencies, but it will also have to work with a new combatant command for homeland defense--the U.S. Northern Command, or NORTHCOM, which will be up and running this month.

NORTHCOM will be devoted to defending the people and territory of the United States against external threats and to coordinating the provision of U.S. military forces to support civil authorities.

The Defense Department, additionally, plans to establish a new assistant secretary office for homeland defense, to ensure internal coordination of Pentagon policy direction, provide guidance to the Northern Command and work with the Department of Homeland Security.

The need for information sharing and coordination will be huge. There is a danger that, if the government is not careful, the White House, the Defense Department, anti the new agencies for homeland defense will end up creating new stove-pipes. That would be bad news.

The flow of information among agencies must be seamless. After all, our enemies have become quite astute at exploiting seams, when they see them.

To create that seamless environment for interagency collaboration, it is important to have clearly defined protocols. We will need these protocols, on the one hand, for contractors to figure out how to build the networks so that the right people have access to the right information. The protocols also will guide federal government officials in defining organizational responsibilities.

Further, the nation cannot afford for any one federal agency to spend millions of dollars on information systems that are stove-piped and thus out of reach to other organizations tasked with homeland defense responsibilities.

But the seamless web of information will not come cheap. Just moving agencies around to create the Homeland Security Department is expected to cost $3 billion. That does nor include any technological upgrades.

At NDIA, we are spearheading a number of programs to promote information sharing and collaboration, using the advanced tools that our industry has developed. Our affiliate organization, AFEI (Association for Enterprise Integration) is actively working with federal agencies and the top companies in the industry to help bring about the seamless environment that our nation needs to solidify our homeland security efforts. AFEI also has a subordinate division, devoted to C4ISR issues, that directly addresses the war-fighting aspects of information use and management.

AFEI is pursuing two aspects of information sharing. One is network-centric warfare, a concept advocated by the Pentagon's Office of Force Transformation. Network-centric warfare can be defined as the collaborative sharing of information for military operations. The second aspect is enterprise integration, the collaborative sharing of information for business operations. In both instances, information bridges traditional seams in order to bring common data to disparate entities, as they collaborate toward the same overall objective.

Industry has the technology to make collaborative information sharing a reality. It is up to the government and the many agencies engaged in national defense to take advantage of it. NDIA intends to vigorously promote cultural change to support transformation in the military and business sectors, as well as information sharing in support of our national and allied interests.

I encourage you to contact AFEI or our C4ISR Division if you are interested in joining the leaders who are transforming our approach to national security.
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Author:Farrell, Lawrence P., Jr.
Publication:National Defense
Date:Oct 1, 2002
Words:923
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