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An overhaul of the US Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (JWICS) is underway in order to make it better able to serve its expanded mission and to potentially extend its capabilities to other parts of the defence community, as well as to more parts of government, according to information released by the Department of Defense (DoD) on 6 September.

Speaking during the Intelligence and National Security Summit at National Harbor, MD, on 4 September, Deputy Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Suzanne White, said that JWICS – a top secret ‘sensitive, compartmented information’ network designed initially to serve the intelligence community — has seen great growth in use since it was created. “JWICS needs to be modernised […] and we are undertaking some investments and some approaches to do exactly that,” she said, adding that it's a top priority for the DIA.

The JWICS system started as the core network for the military intelligence community on which to conduct intelligence operations, White said, but users are asking more of it now and are using it as “the daily system.” Rather than switch back and forth between using JWICS and the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet), another classified military network that handles a lower classification of information, users might instead just use JWICS.

It's very useful and efficient to many users,” White observed. “So, we're trying to generate more of that conversation of 'If we were to create JWICS today, what would it look like for the entire community, the [intelligence community], the DOD and even broader, federal?'" Among the most important questions to be answered are how such a new system would be structured and how it would be managed.

We're looking at this as an opportunity to have exactly that conversation, because there is such a demand signal,” White said. “So, we are trying to understand that so that as we head down our path of modernisation, we are addressing all of those concerns and those potential scenarios for where JWICS will go.”

JWICS is in the process of being overhauled and modernised, bringing new efficiencies and fresh capability to the defence and wider government intelligence communities in the US. (Photo: US DoD)

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