Army To Halt Programs On Network That Hinder Ability To ‘Fight Tonight’

The Army is preparing to remedy the most pressing shortfalls with its network after a year-long assessment concluded it was inadequately meeting requirements for mission operations and command-post needs, according to the service’s chief information officer.

Halting programs that hinder the ability to “fight tonight” is first on the list of steps to address network problems with mobility and scalability, Army Chief Information Officer Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford told a crowd at AFCEA’s MILCOM summit Oct. 24.

“After a year of assessment, we concluded that Army’s current tactical network will not meet the requirements of operational commanders in a highly contested environment against a near-peer adversary,” said Crawford. “In our current state, the Army cannot acquire or rapidly integrate new technologies for the warfighter in a reasonable timeline or at a reasonable cost.”

Following the evaluation period, Army officials determined its network was too complex, insufficiently mobile, below acceptable standards for interoperability, susceptible to jamming and vulnerable to potential cyber attacks.

The current threat environment is forcing the Army to rapidly address changes to its network, according to Crawford.

The first step to fixing the network is cancelling programs that do not address operational shortcomings. Priority will be given to specific aspects of the network holding up the Army’s ability to “fight tonight,” Crawford said.

Subsequent Army network initiatives include creating a universal suite of mission command systems for command posts, implementing greater interoperability measures, and pivoting to a new “adapt and buy” acquisition strategy meant to find capabilities in a more agile manner.

Addressing the room of military communications industry representatives, Crawford pointed to a growing role for the commercial sector to work with Army on capabilities needed for critical updates to its network.

“Based on what we know about the current threat and the challenges that lie ahead, I don’t think this relationship has ever been more critical than it is today,” said Crawford. “Everything that we do is going to involve our industry partners.”

Crawford cited an increasing role for industry providing capabilities needed for the tactical Internet of Things and the development of a common operating environment.

The goal is for the Army to drive institutional change in updating the reliability of its network, including the ability to more rapidly acquire commercial off-the-shelf technology.

“The demands of our warfighting customers present, what I’ll call, unprecedented opportunities to drive institutional change,” said Crawford.

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