Army network of the future: Fast, flexible and end-to-end

CIO says the service aims to increase bandwidth and IT capacity “a thousand times.”

The Army’s next-generation network will offer faster speeds, greater capacity and run end-to-end, delivering easy-to-use applications to soldiers, the service’s chief information officer said recently.

Lt. Gen. Robert Ferrell, who was named Army CIO/G6 in December, sket5ched out the Army’s modernization efforts at the recent Army IT Day in Vienna, Va., hosted by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association. The conference covered the Army’s Network of 2020 initiatives and also the challenges in maintaining and defending the network.

"The Army continues to focus on building IT capacity and increasing bandwidth speed by a thousand times," Ferrell said. "We are greatly improving operations and training at posts, camps and stations, and for deployed organizations. More IT capacity and speed enables home-station mission command, split-based operations, and live, virtual and constructive training."

Army G6 CIO Lt. Gen. Robert Ferrell

Ferrell also focused on the importance of building an end-to-end network, with the ultimate goal of providing intuitive systems to soldiers. The end-to-end networks would increase network centricity, integrating modular capabilities-based units.

"We will also ensure that our tactical networks remain on pace with the strategic network efforts and the vision for the end-to-end Network of 2025,” he said. “As the Army builds a synchronized end-to-end network, they are also re-focusing on reducing the complexity of tactical/deployable networks for the Soldier on the ground."

Acquisition strategies for the Army’s mobile, tactical network that were tested last year have been largely successful, and have been applied throughout the force. The Army aims to create a comprehensive, synchronized network that would provide integrated capabilities that would link home stations to dismounted soldiers in theater. 

Also discussed was the Army’s partnership with DOD in expanding enterprise services, software cloud solutions, and in consolidating and closing data centers. The Army is also thinking about how to increase security by looking at continuous network monitoring, identity and access management protocols, and how to move to a more defendable perimeter.

"We're doing all this while reducing costs -- key during this time of budget constraint," Ferrell said.

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