DISA working on gray network pilot with combatant commands

The Defense Information Systems Agency is working with select combatant commands on a network pilot to allow for greater connectivity to classified networks in more austere locations.

The agency is working with combatant commands to set up gray networks, said Alfred Rivera, director of the Development and Business Center at DISA.

This will allow for mission partners to be anywhere, any place and using encryption technology to help traverse any unclassified, internet, or non-DoD network to get back to mission solutions, Rivera said during a panel discussion hosted by AFCEA’s Northern Virginia chapter in April.

A gray network "contains classified data that has been singly encrypted," according to the National Security Agency’s definition, which is what DISA is applying. "The network between an Inner [virtual private network] Gateway and the [wireless local area network] Access System is a Gray network. The Gray network is physically and logically under the control of the solution owner or a trusted third party."

The gray network is giving access to the network so it allows you to get access to our classified networks without having to have the full classified kit based upon NSA capabilities, Jessie Showers Jr., infrastructure directorate executive, operations center at DISA, told C4ISRNET.

This is a new way of thinking about how to get capability out there quickly, Rivera said, adding that it’s using the internet itself to traverse back into the DoDIN.

Rivera said they are in the process of working requirements with Africa Command and European Command to pilot gray network solutions.

Why those two? Because they asked, Showers told C4ISRNET.

"They have what we call travel kits, basically a classified data center with a computer and a telephone in a suitcase they can plug in anywhere," he said. "You can use that to get across the network."

Rivera added that DISA is having similar discussions with PACOM right now for this, which is running a "light capability," Showers said.

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