Many agencies are piloting bring your own device (BYOD) programs and creating new mobile strategies, and The Marine Corps is no different. However, the approach that Robert Anderson, Chief, Vision and Strategy Division for Headquarters Marine Corps, C4, laid out during the Mobile Work Exchange Telework Town Hall earlier this month takes a new approach
“Our approach is a little different,” Anderson stated during his presentation. He explained that BYOD already has “baggage” associated with the term within the Pentagon. So they’ve flipped the common term, corporate operated, personnel enabled (COPE) on its head and created a personally owned, corporate enabled (POCE) model. This is a model where personal devices can run on two separate operating environments, containerizing agency usage from personal use.
The Marine Corps Mobile Strategy, released in April 2013, recognizes that the increase in mobile device capabilities will allow users to access and share information more efficiently for rapid mission accomplishment. To achieve success with this strategy, The Marine Corps has outlined four primary goals:
- Establish a secure mobile framework
- Transition the unclassified mobile device infrastructure to a cost effective and platform agnostic environment
- Collaborate with Department of Defense (DoD) and industry partners to develop a classified mobile device capability
- Incorporate personally owned mobile devices
The uniqueness of the Marines’ approach, according to Anderson, is that the device is owned by the user and is not procured by the agency, yet it is managed by a service provider and supported on a trusted and secure platform. Distinctions are made for privileged vs. non-privileged users for reimbursement in an effort to reduce the cost of managing 15,000 users with government-procured devices. Currently, fifty-five percent of the Marine’s mobility costs are spent on maintenance, software, and policies. By eliminating the cost of the device and the maintenance, cost savings will be realized while giving employees the flexibility in communications that they are looking for.
Anderson said, “We believe that there is already precedent in personal devices connecting to the defense infrastructure network.” Examples of this precedent include using personally owned computers on unclassified DoD systems and the use of enterprise resources including VTC, messaging, chat and social media.
The plan in place relies heavily on carriers like Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T for success. Without the dollars to build its own classified environment for mobile, Anderson says that they will rely on what is already available through DoD and DISA. “We will not build a classified environment to support mobility” he said. “We do not have the money for it.” But he said that this containerized approach ensures that personal and professional data doesn’t interact and can not spill over. The Marine Corps can monitor, restrict, and encrypt data on the classified side of the device, but is unable to tap into the personal side.
The pilot program will launch this fall.