Military deployments in harsh environments require enterprise-grade technology to deliver secure communication capabilities, but those technologies also must be flexible and align with mission sets, military leaders emphasized during a FedInsider virtual event on Feb. 23.


Col. Joe Pishock, director for Global Networks & Services at the U.S. Special Operations Command J63, emphasized that tactical IT systems are managed with speed and flexibility in mind. Therefore, it’s vital that these systems “are easy to deploy and can be managed with field operators, and not IT specialists,” he said.


In addition to flexibility and ease of use, solutions utilized for tactical must be secure. Pishock explained that military services must guard against over-classification when securing data because that could hinder real-time communication and collaboration, and affect mission success.


“As a service, we are good when it comes securing the high end, but I think there is a whole lot of work that needs to be done left of that. If we over classify, we could be denying ourselves information [when we seek] to deny our adversaries information,” Pishock said.


Col. Neil Khatod, director for G36 at the U.S. Army Cyber Command, argued that real-time collaboration is crucial for tactical operations, but security should be equally important. 


“It’s a balancing act between securing networks and using data for operations,” Khatod said. “We have to have a better understanding of the data we are capturing and decide if this data is ethereal or should it be secured. So, we must have a better view of how we look at and secure data.”


Khatod explained that implementing solutions like portable cloud networks for edge computing could only work if it aligns with the mission sets and values of the enterprise.  


“Whatever we put at the edge needs to go wherever the enterprise is going. With some of these emerging technologies, we can simplify the task at the edge, and it’s where we want to be – rather than creating new domains all over the place and new data stores,” Khatod said.


Pishock said he’s hopeful for capabilities in the future. Aside from advancements in technological capabilities, he also sees industry partners beginning to better understand concepts that military forces consider critical for tactical operations.


“Industry seems much more poised across the board to give us tailored packages and realize capabilities that we need,” Pishock said. 

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.