Speaking to the opening session of TechNet Europe 2016 on board the SS ROTTERDAM this morning, Rear-Adm. Maarten Tossings, the Principal Director of Organisation and Chief Information Officer of the Netherlands Ministry of Defence, stressed the pervasive nature of the IT conundrum for his command.
“Since 2014 we have been overhauling our processes and seeking a better way of achieving our objectives,” he said. “If you visit Dutch forces serving in Mali today, the first thing you will see on getting off the plane is people using SAP [enterprise software] to manage logistics – and everybody here knows how important logistics are to any complex operation. It should never be forgotten that sometimes we have to operate in quite a Spartan environment.”
Reconstituting the IT capabilities of an entire armed force is a challenging prospect, to say the least. Tossings and his command distinguish between ‘white IT’ – the infrastructure required to conduct and manage all the business of a government department – and ‘green IT’ – the capabilities required to conduct information warfare and counter hostile cyber intent. The former can, to a degree, be outsourced. The latter requires levels of security and specialisation that make it imperative uniformed personnel guide and implement the change process.
Nevertheless, Tossings’ vision is to bring about a single infrastructure that will gracefully and efficiently address both sets of requirements. The overarching theme of the Dutch approach, in his words, is “to harness innovation and government-industry partnering to the maximum possible degree,” – a sentiment echoed by every other speaker in the keynote session opening the conference.
Organised by AFCEA Europe and attracting over 200 delegates from across Europe and North America, TechNet Europe 2016 is examining the issue of “Changing the Game in Security – Key Role for C4ISR.” The conference runs 3-5 October.