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[] Army to field new net strategy,

Army to field new net strategy

BY Frank Tiboni

FCW, May 3, 2004
Drawing new battle lines

The Army is on the warpath to fix its networks. With operations in
Afghanistan and Iraq demonstrating the importance of mobile warfighting
communications overseas and reliable networks back home, the Army is
looking to bring order to its vast array of computer, satellite and
telecommunications networks.

Service officials are planning to battle on several fronts in the coming
months. For starters, they will speed development of the Warfighter
Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) program, which will give soldiers
communications anywhere on the battlefield. They also plan to find a
contractor to manage Army Knowledge Online, which lets commanders
discuss enemy tactics in a secure computer environment via the Internet
and allows soldiers to talk to one another and family using the portal's
instant-messaging functions. Finally, concerned about the security of
their networks, service officials plan to award an enterprise license
agreement to one vendor for information assurance.

Army officials are planning to form a war council later this month to
review their communication systems strategy and plan for future

"The Formal Network Review covers everything and where we're headed,"
said Vernon Bettencourt, the Army's deputy chief information officer.
Gen. Peter Schoomaker, Army chief of staff, will oversee the event, with
advice from other service leaders including Lt. Gen. Steve Boutelle, the
service's CIO. Army officials will talk about how best to manage,
maintain, operate, secure and acquire Army warfighting and business
communications systems, said Bettencourt, who became deputy CIO in

Army officials announced last week they want to hire General Dynamics
Corp. or Lockheed Martin Corp. to start building WIN-T this year instead
of in late 2005. Both companies are working on prototype systems, which
will use ground, air and space-based platforms and sensors to give
soldiers more mobile communications, Boutelle said.

The Defense Department and the Army created an interagency group in
mid-April to work on speeding the WIN-T acquisition. Department and
service acquisition officials will discuss how best to proceed, he said.

It took last year's invasion of Iraq for the Army to realize the
immediate need for WIN-T and more mobile communications, said Dan Goure,
defense and land warfare analyst at the Lexington Institute, a military
think tank and consulting firm in Arlington, Va. "The Army has finally
moved from the telegraph and telephone landline era to the [information
technology] world and its wireless networks," Goure said.

WIN-T represents the future of battlefield communications, but Army
technology is already in transition. Commercial satellites delivered 80
percent of communications transmissions in Operation Iraqi Freedom, a
flip-flop from the United States' emphasis on military satellites 12
years earlier during Operation Desert Storm.

To improve Army business networks in America for better support of
soldiers overseas, the service will release a solicitation next month to
consolidate operations of Army Knowledge Online. The service wants a
lead systems integrator to manage the portal's technical and management
services, which will improve efficiency and standardization by
consolidating several contracts of vendors providing these services,
Bettencourt said. Vendors must submit bids for the acquisition by Aug.
1. The Army will award the contract later this year.

Bettencourt did not give the procurement's value. He also said the Army
does not know if it will use the new $1 billion Information Technology
Enterprise Solutions contract for the acquisition.

Army officials will also consider an enterprise information assurance
license to save money and better manage security procurements,
Bettencourt said. This year, the Army expects to spend $220 million on
information assurance products.

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