Outdated infrastructure slows Army network transition

Antiquated infrastructure is posing the biggest challenge to bringing the Army's new data network online -- but it's not the only challenge, a senior commander said Sept. 18.

"We have a ton of work to do on our infrastructure," BG John Morrison, commander of the Army's 7th Signal Command at Fort Gordon, Ga., which is responsible for network communications throughout the Western Hemisphere, told the Defense Systems Summit in Arlington, Va.

"You've got to fix the foundation," otherwise it will impede everything else military officials are trying to do, he said.

Outmoded and nonstandard equipment at Army installations in the hemisphere are a concern because they are the focal point of the service's efforts to standardize and streamline connectivity using stateside bases as "docking stations" for globally deployed forces. "We are rapidly moving toward a single IT provider concept," Morrison said.

He said Army officials have learned many lessons as the service shifts to the Pentagon's new cloud-based environment.

Differences in technical standards slowed the process of moving all Army e-mail accounts to a single enterprise server. "We found inconsistencies across the board," Morrison said. Some 500,000 users already are on the new system, with the rest to be shifted over by the end of March.

Another lesson came when Army leaders noticed that commanders and their staffs repeatedly had to relearn network tools, he said. The problem: Units were using different tools in garrison than they used in the field. Now, Army units will train and work with a single, organic mission command system, Morrison said, noting that if standards aren't consistent "we will misfire."

About the Author

Charles Hoskinson is a contributing writer for Defense Systems.

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