The Joint Information Environment, which is the colloquially and collectively the Defense Department's ongoing IT modernization effort, has been marred in confusion surrounding lexicon, purpose and scope.

One of the lessons learned from this process, said outgoing DoD CIO Terry Halvorsen, is that names are really important.

"I would never use JIE again, Halvorsen, who is retiring at the end of the month, said during a media call taking responsibility for the way JIE was rolled out. "JIE is the concept; it never gets delivered because if you said you were delivering it and you were done, you'd be wrong. I did not deliver that the right way when I started. If I could go back, that's one thing I would change. I would stress it is a concept; it is our vision architecture not something that was going to roll out."

With this conceptual framework, there is no formalized program of record for JIE; rather, there are joint modernization initiatives for which the military services bear the funding responsibilities. By and large, many currentand formerofficials both from DoD and the services have confidence in this structure and model that goes through each individual service.

Halvorsen expressed confidence in the governance structure for JIE going forward.

"If you ask all the services, they’ll tell you this is the best it’s ever been," he said. This process involves the CIOs and 6s — or information offices — of each service along with the DoD CIO, the Defense Information Systems Agency, Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, to the point where they should all be participating in the decisions.

The JIE executive committee, or EXCOM, continues to be the main governance body, Halvorsen said. It comprises two-star generals and senior civilian officials and is chaired by Randall Conway, deputy CIO for information enterprise.

One of the important aspects of the EXCOM, according to Halvorsen, was that decisions are reached in a collaborative manner, signifying not agreement from all parties, but rather that all participants are able to provide input. Oftentimes, there is some disagreement, Halvorsen said, but there is enough consensus to come to decisions within this process.

One of the keystone concepts under the JIE umbrella is the Joint Regional Security Stacks, which is funded through the services. The next step following its full implantation, which is still ongoing, will be autonomous and artificial intelligence-based tools, Halvorsen said. "Given the volume and where I see the threat moving, it will be impossible for humans by themselves to keep pace," he said.

In the past, Halvorsen has requested similar tools from industry to work at machine speed.

"We can and we’re very close to being able to put more autonomy into the security tools, and we will get to the point I think within the next 18 months where AI is becoming a key factor in augmenting the human analyst," in making decisions about what to do, when to quarantine parts of the network and what parts of the networks can structure be changed, he said.

These tools, which he described as "an absolute real effort," will be able to isolate portions of the network that become infected at machine speed and keep the network running to perform the mission, he said. They are looking at things like the Watson supercomputer solutions coming from the Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental, or DIUx, in Silicon Valley.

These solutions will also allow for greater predictability, though Halvorsen noted there will never be 100 percent predictability of every attack.

"The way people actually individually move the mouse becomes very distinctive, and there’s just a lot of things that AI is going to be able to do," Halvorsen provided as an example.

John Zangardi will take over as acting CIO, Halvorsen said. Zangardi is now

principal deputy CIO.