Information Assurance Menu

Skip Search Box

Global Information Grid

The GIG Vision - Enabled by Information AssuranceGIG logo

The Global Information Grid (GIG) vision implies a fundamental shift in information management, communication, and assurance.

The GIG is the globally interconnected, end-to-end set of information capabilities for collecting, processing, storing, disseminating, and managing information on demand to warfighters, policy makers, and support personnel. The GIG includes owned and leased communications and computing systems and services, software (including applications), data, security services, other associated services, and National Security Systems. Non-GIG IT includes stand-alone, self-contained, or embedded IT that is not, and will not be, connected to the enterprise network. (DODD 8000.01)

The GIG will use commercial technologies augmented to meet the DoD's mission-critical user requirements.

If your company provides an IA or IA-enabled product or service and you are interested in scheduling a capabilities presentation with NSA, please complete the Capabilities Presentation Questionnaire.

"...[We must] leverage information technology and innovative network-centric concepts of operations to develop increasingly capable joint forces. Our ability to leverage the power of information and networks will be key to our success..."
--Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz

Scope and Objectives

The GIG will be a net-centric system operating in a global context to provide processing, storage, management, and transport of information to support all Department of Defense (DoD), national security, and related Intelligence Community missions and functions - strategic, operational, tactical, and business - in war, in crisis, and in peace.

GIG capabilities will be available from all operating locations: bases, posts, camps, stations, facilities, mobile platforms, and deployed sites. The GIG will interface with allied, coalition, and non-GIG systems.

The overarching objective of the GIG vision is to provide the National Command Authority (NCA), warfighters, DoD personnel, Intelligence Community, business, policy-makers, and non-DoD users with information superiority, decision superiority, and full-spectrum dominance.

IA Importance and Key Characteristics

IA capabilities and components that support the net-centric GIG vision are a near-term DoD imperative. The IA objectives in support of the GIG architectures are:

  • To develop common unifying approaches for DoD components and the Intelligence Community, and
  • To apply these approaches in the development and acquisition of systems incorporating IA and IA-enabled products and services.

The essential element is that IA be an embedded feature, designed into every system, holistically, within the family of systems that comprise the GIG. This requires a shift from today's model consisting predominantly of link encryption and boundary protection between multiple discrete networks, to an end-to-end, seamlessly interconnected information environment using "Defense-in-Depth."

IA Defense-in-Depth Implementation

To ensure a consistent "Defense-in-Depth" implementation across component systems of the GIG, IA architectural concepts must ultimately be translated into specific architecture guidance, IA standards and protocols, technical requirements, and policy. This applies to existing, emerging, and future system development efforts such as the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS), Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T), Intelligence Community System for Information Sharing (ICSIS), Transformational Communications (TC), and other programs supporting the GIG vision.

The implementation must allow both human users of the GIG, and automated services acting on behalf of GIG users, to access information and services from anywhere, based on need and capability. Information must be labeled and also cataloged using metadata, allowing users to search and retrieve the information required to fulfill their mission under a "smart-pull" and information management model. This requires the GIG to know where the information is posted and to recognize who the user is, regardless of location.

System access will be available regardless of location; however, access to information will be restricted based on the threat inherent to that location.

IA will enforce user privileges and access to the information in addition to providing mechanisms so that the information can be trusted as coming from its claimed source. These mechanisms also will ensure that information is unaltered during processing, storage, and transport. Ultimately, the GIG must enhance the capability to collect, process, and disseminate an uninterrupted flow of information - a Net-Centric approach - while inhibiting or denying an adversary's ability to do the same.

IA Responsibility

The GIG IA Special Program Office (now Enterprise IA Systems Engineering Services) delivered version 1.1 of the GIG IA architecture in November 2006. The initial focus (Increment 1) laid out the vision for information sharing in a Secret environment between the United States and its allies. The GIG IA Portfolio (GIAP) Office optimizes the funding of GIG IA capabilities to ensure mission success.

Since the initial release of the architecture, NSA has been providing IA guidance to major DoD initiatives, as well as to NSA's internal crosscutting IA efforts that feed directly into transformational GIG programs. In addition, the architecture helps to steer NSA's IA research partnerships and industry outreach programs toward a common GIG vision to ensure seamless interoperation of products and to ensure that the GIG IA technology gaps are addressed.

Reliance on Industry

Achieving the GIG vision requires applying today's information-sharing and network-defense technologies, as well as emerging new technologies, with an emphasis on open standards-based capabilities. The preponderance of GIG functionality will be realized through leveraging commercial technologies and standards augmented as necessary to meet unique DoD mission-critical needs for availability, integrity, confidentiality, access control, and non-repudiation.

However, products available today will not satisfy all the IA capabilities needed to support the net-centric GIG vision. With an emphasis on commercial solutions for the GIG, a coordinated interface with commercial, contractor, and government development communities is essential. [Add a pointer to this "coordinated interface" in IAD] A spiral/evolutionary approach to industry–government coordinated development over the next several years will deliver incremental improvements as new technologies become available.


Date Posted: Nov 14, 2008 | Last Modified: Apr 23, 2012 | Last Reviewed: Apr 23, 2012