Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.
Issue link: http://uscgproceedings.epubxp.com/i/381781
14 Proceedings Fall 2014 www.uscg.mil/proceedings Current U.S. Coast Guard efforts to combat and dismantle transnational organized crime (TOC) in the Western Hemi- sphere's maritime domain, while safeguarding the nation's borders and national commerce, emphasize shared synchro- nized situational awareness (S3A). This linchpin provides unity of effort against threats in a complex maritime world. To meet challenges, the Coast Guard must leverage modern technology. On an operational level that means: • defning the characteristics of the modern information operating environment, • optimizing operations within the environment, • recognizing what capabilities the Coast Guard will need to bridge the gap between its industrial-age operating model and one more suited to these strategic visions. The "Real" World The primary problem with information environment strate- gic analyses is that they focus on the results of capabilities operating in the environment, rather than the properties of the environment itself. We are assailed with examples of how the Internet, mobile devices, social media, and such, have revolutionized everything from the news cycle and trade to rebellion and international crime. However, these examples only show what operating in the environment can do. It is akin to demonstrating the capabilities of a new tank, rather than discussing the advantages and disadvan- tages presented by the terrain within which the tank must operate. We do this because we make a refexive judgment as to the reality of the information environment. It is apparent in our choice of words. We use terms such as "virtual" and "cyber," which carry signifcant conceptual baggage. These words imply something that is not "real," or is outside our ability to think about or act on, in a concrete fashion. This percep- tion remains, despite our reliance on handheld computers that we call "smart phones," which allow us to operate in, impact, and use the information environment, regardless of time or place. Just like the air, space, ground, and maritime environ- ments, the current information environment is a byproduct of technological advances that allow us to take advantage of a physical domain. If the Coast Guard does not have the right technology, it cannot optimize operations. Similarly, the degree to which we can exploit the domain depends on the sophistication of our technology — a national security cutter is much more capable in the maritime domain, for example, than a Viking longboat. When we have access to the electromagnetic (EM) domain via modern information technology (IT), we can operate in it, and, by extension, access the modern information envi- ronment. What operational results we can achieve and how Connectivity The Coast Guard's central, critical need. by CDR JaMes a. Valentine Chief, Analysis Dept U.S. Coast Guard Intelligence Coordination Center Combating Networks and Securing Borders Scanrail / iStock / Thinkstock