29 January 2010
Cyberspace security could repeat 1980s weapons, satellite success
By Wayne Heilman
The Colorado Springs Gazette
Colorado Springs defense contractors aren’t expecting to cash in immediately on what has been touted as the next big opportunity for them in Colorado Springs – protecting the nation’s Internet security.
Computers and software could offer the same growth opportunities for Colorado Springs that rockets and satellites did in the 1980s, when Space Command was created to oversee military space activities, said its top commander, Gen. C. Robert Kehler, in speech in September.
Any buildup of cyberspace contracts and personnel in the Springs would be gradual, said Brian Binn, president of the Military Affairs Division of the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce.
That would mirror the way defense contractors specializing in space opened small-business development and marketing offices here in the 1980s, and later expanded with major operations in the Springs after winning key contracts for work from local commands.
“It will start with one, two or three people as they try to build the market. The growth will be gradual because all of the established companies have in-house capability to expand when necessary,” Binn said.
“A lot of current defense contractors are already doing pieces of this work at some other location and they can do the work wherever their expertise is located. But you also have niche companies here that have the opportunity to partner with some of the larger players.”
The chamber is trying to convince the Army to keep its cyberspace operations in the Springs, which are currently part of its Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command. The Army also is considering creating a new command or moving the operations under the Army’s Network Enterprise Technology Command in Arizona, or its Intelligence and Security Command in Virginia, Binn said. The Army could make that decision as early as next month, he said.
Cyberspace work likely will come initially as part of existing defense contracts as the military adds more cyberspace elements to current projects, said Dale Meyerrose, a retired Air Force major general who lives in the Springs.
He was hired a year ago by defense giant Harris Corp. as vice president and
general manager for cyberspace solutions, a new business unit the company
started to win work from a variety of federal government agencies.
It is helping the military manage the large amount of video data its unmanned aircraft collect. While the work may not be classified as a cyberspace project, it includes many cyberspace elements, Meyerrose said.
That’s already happened for Colorado Springs-based Intelligent Software Solutions, which has been building information systems for the military that include cyberspace elements for several years, said Jay Jesse, the company’s CEO. A $300 million contract the company won in September from the Air Force Research Laboratory already includes several cyberspace tasks and more could be added over the remainder of the five-year deal, he said.
“A few years ago, we decided to build up our own expertise in this area and started building a talent base. Our research and development efforts targeted cyberspace as the next (battlefield),” Jesse said. “We developed those capabilities so we could show the Air Force and they could understand how they could use it. We have about 5 percent of our staff working on those programs. I thought it would ramp up quicker, but it takes awhile to get through budget and acquisition cycles.”
ISS is already making money on cyberspace, but Jesse believes “the future is even brighter. It’s hard to tell how bright that future might be. Cyber will be a piece of many projects. It won’t be dozens of projects with high visibility, but it will be a part of many of them.”
ITT Corp., one of the largest defense contractors in the Springs area, earlier this month merged its technology and information services units into a new information systems operation to be better positioned to bid on cyberspace security contracts, said B.J. Talley, a spokesman for ITT’s Systems Division, which is headquartered locally. The merger consolidates the company’s expertise that had been spread across several units into a single operation, he said.
Although cyberspace work in many cases is starting out as additions to existing contracts, Talley expects the Defense Department to eventually consolidate that work into larger contracts that give the military “a solution or stand-alone capability, rather than having to buy what they need piecemeal.”
Steve Oswald, who heads Boeing Co.’s Intelligence and Security Systems Division in St. Louis, the unit that is coordinating the company’s cyberspace efforts, said the company likely will shift employees with such expertise from other work as those contracts wind down, which could include some in Colorado Springs.
Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. has about 65 employees in the Springs working on cyberspace work under intelligence, operations, communications and plans contracts valued at about $20 million and awarded last year by Air Force Space Command, said Nate Rogers, a company official at the National Symposium on Homeland Defense and Security in November at The Broadmoor hotel. The work includes protecting networks and databases for several local commands, he said.
Both Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp., which are two of the
largest defense contractors in the Springs, are focusing their military
cyberspace operations in the Washington, D.C., area, rather than in Colorado.