Army lays out the way ahead for network modernization

The acquisition strategy that the Army has used for its mobile, tactical network known as Capability Set 13 will now be applied to the acquisition of the entire network from DISA headquarters at Ft. Meade, MD, to Helmand Province in Afghanistan.

“A cutting edge end-to-end network is essential to every Army mission,” said Army Secretary John McHugh in memorandum signed March 11. “ A robust, versatile, lethal force cannot exist in the 21st Century environment, under tightening fiscal conditions, without a capability set management approach.”

The Army’s first Capability Set, known as CS 13, is fielding to four Brigade Combat Teams and two division headquarters. CS 13 includes Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2, Joint Capabilities Release/Blue Force Tracking 2, and Handheld, Manpack & Small Form Fit radios that communicate over the Soldier Radio Waveform.

The technologies were proven during the Army’s bi-annual Network Integration Evaluations, and are about to deploy to Afghanistan for the first time with the 10th Mountain light infantry division, Fort Drum, NY.

“The Army has made great progress in our deployable network capabilities using capability set management,” wrote McHugh. “Effective immediately we will apply this same approach to modernize the network and IT acquisitions. The entire network must be treated as a single entity, unified from the Global Information Grid to the farthest tactical edge, and provide the integrated capabilities that support a seamless link from home station through the enterprise to the lone, dismounted soldier in theater.

“This means the Army must design, develop, acquire and field the network in a comprehensive, synchronized manner. Capability set management will cut across functional areas and focus on three primary objectives: building capacity, improving security and delivering enterprise services to the entire force.”

The capability set management approach will consist of a defined hardware and infrastructure baseline, according to the memorandum, and an approved suite of common applications and services selected at the enterprise level for the entire Army. The goal is standardization that will lead to interoperability, reduced costs and simplified network defense.

“Additionally, these components will complement each other to ensure the most effective and secure Army capability,” McHugh wrote. “For example, the Army will no longer purchase end-user devices for which bandwidth is insufficient, nor improve transport infrastructure while retaining equipment that is generations old.”

The capability set requirements, road map and management approach for Network 2020 will be established by: the Army Chief Information Office/G-6 office; the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology; and the Deputy Chief of Staff G-3/5/7.

A comprehensive plan will be published by those organizations “in the coming months,” stated the memo.

About the Author

Barry Rosenberg is editor-in-chief of Defense Systems. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryDefense.

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