The future is different for defence forces
With some honourable – and often famous – exceptions, military operations throughout history have usually involved the land, sea and air forces of one country working in close coordination, sharing information, insight and resources between them.
But today this traditional paradigm no longer applies, with collaborative multinational operations involving armed forces from a coalition of multiple willing partners becoming the norm.
This shift is a logical and well-justified response to the ongoing rapid evolution and escalation of threats globally. And it’s paying dividends in operations and theatres of action around the world, as like-minded countries work together successfully to achieve common goals and support local populations.
Not if, but when: Now is the time to act
In Accenture’s view, defence forces must transform how they protect and share data –or risk operational failure in theatre. And the urgency is growing by the day: put simply, Multi-Level Security is a solution that every military force must start implementing today.
Why? Because if they fail to automate how they handle and share data securely, they will have to do it manually – which will not enable the required pace of operations. Or to avoid being slow, their only other option would be to transfer and share data openly with their coalition partners – which is inherently insecure. Either alternative would expose their operations, their people and their coalition partners to excessive and unnecessary risk.
Three pillars of multi-level security
The message is clear: implementing Multi-Level Security is vital to help ensure military forces remain relevant, secure and effective in the 2020s –and action to implement it must start now if it’s to be operational within that timeframe. To make it happen, there are three key requirements.
- The need for horizontality. In the past, the accuracy, reliability, security and timeliness of vertical data flow were critical to mission success; now, the same applies to horizontal. Only data flows of this type can create the level of situational awareness required across a coalition, if it’s to deliver the required speed and quality of decision-making and operational planning.
- The need for agility. Fast and agile sharing of data across coalition partners is the only way for armed forces to keep pace with emerging threats. And agility isn’t just an operational issue: it needs to be a comprehensive attribute that encompasses all aspects of military IT, including software development and implementation.
- The need for a secure method. Armed forces will need the ability to share data both internally and with coalition partners, making it available in near-real time across different physical network layers and data confidentially classification levels. Yet they need to do this on the basis of universally accepted standards and with rock-solid security – or they will become too slow or too insecure for effective operations.
Four steps to take today
Moving to data focused Multi-Level Security may appear a daunting undertaking. However, rather than a “big bang” transformation, it’s a transition that will take several years. And it’s one that armed forces must start now in order to be ready for the challenges ahead.
In the years to come, effective coalition operations will require seamless sharing of data across all partners. By the early 2020s, this will be the everyday reality for armed forces globally. It’s time to get ready.
Here are four steps that military organisations can take today to get under way: