Global Information Grid

Global Information Grid

The Global Information Grid (GIG) is an all-encompassing communications project of the United States Department of Defense. It is defined as the globally interconnected, end-to-end set of information capabilities,associated processes, and personnel for collecting, processing, storing, disseminating, and managing information on demand to warfighters, policymakers, and support personnel. The GIG includes all owned and leased communications and computing systems and services, software (including applications), system data, security services, and other associated services necessary to achieve information superiority for the United States military. It is the physical manifestation of the network-centric warfare doctrine. The GIG was envisioned by the Department of Defense Chief Information Officer on September 22, 1999 and was officially mandated by an overarching directive from the Deputy Secretary of Defense on September 19, 2002. Noteworthy progress has been made since then.

Although the lofty objective of the Global Information Grid has not yet been realized, computer-enabled communication between soldiers and commanders in the battlefield have been successful, most notably during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. This ability is considered an early GIG component.


The network-centric warfare (NCW) doctrine represents a fundamental shift in military culture, away from powerful compartmentalized war machines and toward interconnected units operating cohesively. The tenets of NCW, found in the DoD NCW Report to the Congress, are:1) A robustly networked force improves information sharing, 2) information sharing enhances the quality of information and shared situational awareness, 3) shared situational awareness enables collaboration and self-synchronization and enhances sustainability and speed of command, and 4) these, in turn, dramatically increase mission effectiveness. [] []

At the enterprise level, forging new paths that components of the military communicate in will ease logistics burdens, improve communication and combat effectiveness of the warfighter, decrease instances of confusion-related fratricide, accelerate the trend in minimizing collateral damage, and hasten the flow of business.

For the warfighter, situational awareness would be improved tremendously by linking what he sees with what an overhead satellite sees. The fog of war would be lifted by seamless communication between unit members, offsite detection devices, and commanders operating behind the line.

Improved coordination may also assist in delivering appropriate firepower or other tangible assets to first responders during domestic attacks and natural disasters worldwide.


The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Network Integration and Infrastructure (ASD(NII)) as the Chief Information Officer for DoD is charged with ultimate responsibility for the Global Information Grid. His or her authority extends to all phases of the GIG design, from planning to development to implementation to maintenance.

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has been charged by the CIO with heading the GIG project. DISA has classified the GIG as a "data computing grid" and has designed an intricate foundation architecture called GIG Enterprise Services (ES). GIG ES establishes a collection of core services that provides the foundation for lower-level GIG components all the way down to the individual soldier. GIG ES enables distributed storage, information assurance (security), collaboration, messaging, mediation, service management, and interfaces for node to client connectivity.

The GIG, when completed, would connect all technology within the Department of Defense, much like the Internet. Individual GIG components resemble client computers and GIG ES core services can be compared to the services offered from the data centers of Internet Service Providers and hosting companies.


As of 2004, there are nine functional GIG ES core services. These are:
* Storage
* Messaging
* Enterprise Service Management
* Discovery
* Mediation
* Information Assurance
* Application Hosting
* User Assistant
* Collaboration

The 2002 DoD Directive effectively redesignates all existing computer networks, technology services, and data applications within the Department as part of the GIG. Agencies have evolved independent efforts to bring their services into compliance with GIG ES architecture. One such infrastructure to join the GIG is the NMCI network.

Currently, over 95% of transmission service over the GIG is mediated by civilian companies, and many DoD agencies have officially outsourced their GIG management capabilities to civilian authorities. There is no set timeline for the completion of the Global Information Grid, although DISA has projected GIG ES completion to be sometime in 2005.

Comments, Issues, and Caveats

The DoD has made significant progress toward adopting net-centric operations in the field by creatively employing its existing computer network capability. Further, DoD recognizes the need to adopt net-centric engineering and acquisition practices similar to those employed by the best practitioners of e-business to rapidly and continuously roll out improvememts to the GIG. However, the rapid, "flat", innovative, e-business model contrasts starkly with DoD's slow, hierarchal, conservative, acquisition model designed to field large, specialized, weapons, platforms and sensors. The DoD has made relatively little progress on this second front.

See also

* Department of Defense Architecture Framework
* DoD Joint Technical Framework
* DoD Business Enterprise Architecture
* Global Information Grid-Bandwidth Expansion initiative
* Global Information Grid-Enterprise Services initiative
* Joint Task Force-Global Network Operations

External links

* [ Defense Information Systems Agency Website]
* [ Department of Defense]
* [ NSA on GIG Information Assurance]
* [ GIG Bandwidth Expansion]

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