Fort Hood Shootings Spark IT Upgrades

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has ordered the deployment of two information sharing systems in order to help curb internal security threats.
The Department of Defense plans enterprise-wide deployment of a threat reporting system and a law enforcement information sharing system in order to help prevent events similar to last November's shootings at the Army's Fort Hood, Texas, facility, defense secretary Robert Gates announced last week.

The military has been working to analyze and resolve gaps in information sharing made clear by the event, as numerous warnings about Maj. Nidal Hasan, the alleged shooter in the attack that left 13 people dead, were sounded but never made their way to the right people. The IT deployments, summarized in a memo from Gates released last Thursday, follow up on recommendations made in a report issued in January by an independent panel reviewing the attack.

One conclusion of the earlier report had been that the military had had no way of its own to report suspicious activity between 2007, when it unplugged an old system to do so, and July 2009, when it began a pilot project with the FBI's eGuardian system. Now, the DoD plans to deploy that system for use military-wide by June 30.

The eGuardian system is a Web-based, unclassified system for sharing potential threats and suspicious activity among the law enforcement community. Furthermore, it is the only such system that communicates directly with the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Forces. The system "will appropriately safeguard civil liberties," the DoD said in a document attached to Gates' memo.

The DoD also plans to deploy the Law Enforcement Defense Data Exchange system, or D-DEx, a reconfiguration of the Navy Criminal Investigative Service's Law Enforcement Information Exchange system, also known as LInX. After being rolled out in fiscal 2011, D-DEx will allow the DoD to search and post criminal investigation and law enforcement data in a consolidated database.

Finally, the DoD is drafting a comprehensive, inter-agency cyberspace counterintelligence policy that will require counterintelligence officials to alert DoD law enforcement and investigative arms of information discovered online.

The January report had diagnosed difficulties in "providing information to the right people," and recommended, among other things, that the military create adoption of new standards and procedures for information sharing, a number of which require adoption or increased deployment of information sharing technologies.

For example, in addition to the use of eGuardian, the report recommended broader adoption of enhanced 911 and interoperable emergency communications technologies, the possibility of using software to detect behavioral anomalies based on information collected through the miltiary's pervasive use of smart access control cards, and the deployment of information management systems to support emergency management procedures.