In recent years, the Army’s information technology modernization has been outpaced by rapid change in the commercial world. U.S. adversaries leverage commercial off-the-shelf technologies, which allow them to gain an advantage over Army mission command systems at a fraction of what it costs the Army to build them. As a result, the service branch recently undertook a robust study to optimize current requirements development, acquisition and business processes to capitalize on the private sector’s advancements in communications and networking.
A NEW STRATEGY
The new network modernization strategy is designed to enable the Army to “fight tonight” while also actively seeking next-generation solutions to stay ahead of potential adversaries. Soldiers must be able to shoot, move and communicate effectively while the Army continually assesses and adjusts to operational needs and technological evolution. Immediately, the strategy focuses on: halting programs that do not address operational requirements; fixing the existing programs that are necessary to fulfill the most critical operational shortfalls; and pivoting to a new acquisition methodology. This pivot will develop the future state network by rapid technology insertion through concept evaluation, experimentation/integration and then requirement definition represents a fundamental change in the Army’s approach to tactical network modernization Army forces ahead of adversaries.
Through a collaborative effort across the requirements, materiel and operational communities, the service has identified four network modernization lines of effort to improve the network: creating a unified network; building a simplified mission command suite of applications; improving interoperability among Army elements, and with the Joint force and coalition partners; and improving command posts’ expeditionary mobility and capability (for full-spectrum operations).
The network modernization strategy will deliver capabilities in the near term to close gaps, and continue to emphasize maintaining superiority through longer-term efforts and continued optimization. Significant improvements can be remedied among high-priority units in the next 12 to 24 months through program delivery of interim capabilities that will: improve command post (CP) survivability and mobility; integrate tactical network transport; provide a mission command application suite that resolves incompatibilities between echelons; improve radio and network survivability against electronic warfare and cyber threats; and increase joint/coalition interoperability and access to joint fires and close air support.
For additional information, see the PEO C3T article, CP CE: Modernizing the Command Post.