Macedonian chairman facilitates security in multi-national testing environment

LAGER AULENBACH, Germany — Macedonian Army Capt. Goran Trajkovski, Combined Endeavor Network Defense Cell chairman, speaks with his co-chairman Capt. Yann Chalon, Swiss Armed Forces, regarding network defenses. Trajkovski is from the G6 general staff telecommunications planning, information technology and information assurance branch in Skopje, Macedonia. Chalon is the Defense Information Security Office deputy for the Switzerland Department of Defense. Combined Endeavor 2007, held April 27 through May 10, is a U.S. European Command-sponsored exercise, bringing U.S., NATO, Partnership for Peace (PfP) and other nations together to plan and execute interoperability testing of command, control, communications and computer systems from participant nations in preparation for future combined humanitarian, peacekeeping and disaster relief operations. (Department of Defense photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Denise Johnson)

LAGER AULENBACH, Germany — Maintaining a secure network server for 42 nations in an interoperability-testing environment can be a daunting task, but one Macedonian and his Network Defense Cell (NDC) team at the U.S. European Command-sponsored exercise, Combined Endeavor, are prepared for that task.

"It is crucial that an entire network is secure," said Macedonian Army Capt. Goran Trajkovski, CE 07 NDC chairman. Trajkovski is from the G6 general staff telecommunications planning, information technology and information assurance branch in Skopje, Macedonia.

The multi-national delegations set up a military compound both here at Lager Aulenbach, in Baumholder, and at a forward operating site (FOS). The FOS for CE 07, which began April 27 and runs through May 10, is located at the Air Institute in Yerevan, Armenia. The delegations here are teamed up into four regional areas according to functionality or technology, not by geography. For example, if a group wants to test interoperability of circuit-switched equipment with another nation or group of nations, they are generally going to be in the same region. Each country within a region is interconnected by way of a Local Area Network (LAN), or common infrastructure.

These four LANs individually connect to a core network, thus converging into one large network. The network as a whole is referred to as the Coalition Network (CNET). Delegates determine who will provide the core network during planning conferences held throughout the year. The Netherlands Royal Army is providing the core network for CE 07 by use of their operational system called Theater Independent Tactical Army and Air Force Network (TITAAN).

The security and integrity of this core network is assured by the NDC. The NDC is responsible for maintaining several functions to ensure exercise participants can conduct their tests in a secure environment. The team acts as the network security branch for the Combined Joint Command Control Center (CJCCC), which is responsible for the architecture, performance and security of the core network in particular and the CNET as a whole.

"We are committed to ensuring the integrity of this framework," said Trajkovski. One of several functions falling within the scope of NDC is the Intrusion Detection System (IDS). The IDS team monitors network traffic in and out of the core network "We look for any anomalies that may indicate a digital attack on the network," said U.S. Air National Guard Master Sgt. Gerard Ditomosso who is here as the team lead for the 102nd Information Warfare Squadron. The squadron is based at the Coventry ANG Station in Coventry, R.I.

NDC covers other functions such as the validation surveys which are part of the Coalition Network (CNET) accreditation process. The process requires each nation who wants to connect to the CNET, to be validated.

Information Assurance is always a challenge, said CE 07 NDC Co-chair Capt. Yann Chalon, Swiss Armed Forces. Chalon's job as the Defense Information Security Office deputy for the Switzerland Department of Defense, has given him the insight to address similar issues here. "It is an awareness issue. People tend to forget to secure their passwords or their computers. We work to raise network-security awareness," he said.

The functions of the NDC are many, but the goal is the same for each. "We have many things to consider when working in a multi-national environment. The key is for us to make sure our networks have maximum security. At the same time we must have enough flexibility to allow for optimum testing activity," Trajkovski said.

To achieve that flexibility Trajkovski said he must consider the national security and political issues of those who appointed him, "Each step, regardless if it's an upgrade or a patch to the server, must be painstakingly deliberate and thorough. Too much is at stake here that could affect the entire testing process."

Sitting as NDC chair for the second consecutive year and as the first Macedonian chairperson, Trajkovski said it meant a lot to be selected, "It was an honor for me to be nominated and appointed as NDC chair. I take the position and the fact that I am here representing my country very seriously."

Trajkovski said it is the work of his multi-national teams that make it possible to provide extensive security while balancing the sensitivities of the nations and the mission, "My teams comprise representatives from many nations; they are the best of the best. The successes of CE are an incredible testament to that."

The exercise includes nearly 1,500 people from 42 countries spanning four continents and two international organizations. Representatives from U.S., NATO, Partnership for Peace (PfP) and other nations plan and execute interoperability testing of command, control, communications and computer systems from participant nations in preparation for future combined humanitarian, peacekeeping and disaster relief operations.

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