Army pauses e-mail migration while it cleans up its network

Network integration and standardization initiatives pick up speed

The Army’s enterprise e-mail effort, which has been on an operational hiatus since July, will soon restart account migration, but will continue to take short pauses to evaluate progress, the Army CIO said Aug. 9.

“Enterprise e-mail is working great but we’ve uncovered a pretty dirty network after 10 years of war,” Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence said at the AFCEA Warfighter Support IT Day in Vienna, Va. “We’ve been on an operational pause to clean up the network first. I don’t want to implement enterprise e-mail and then clean up the network after.”

A lack of standardization has been among the problems encountered as the Army works to implement its enterprise e-mail program with the Defense Information Systems Agency, Lawrence said.

“We’re within days of restarting the process,” she said.

The Army plans to begin migrating 3,500 accounts per night then pause for two days to evaluate progress, and repeat that process until issues in the system are worked out. “Then we’re going to rip the band-aid off,” Lawrence said. “We’ll lift the pause sometime in September.”

As of Aug. 2, 87,895 Army accounts had been migrated, leaving the project at 8.99 percent complete, Lawrence said, projecting a timeframe of eight to nine months until completion.

The enterprise e-mail program is among broader Army plans for revolutionizing its network and the way it is delivered to troops and used to fight.

“We’re in a changing environment with many opportunities in. The network is the key multiplier to drawing the Army down while remaining just as a capable, better trained and more flexible,” Lawrence said. “We’re fundamentally changing the way we do IT.”

Building a common operating environment and establishing the Network Integration Exercise (NIE) for testing and evaluation are all key components of Army modernization efforts, Lawrence said.

She said that a single, standard common operating picture would better facilitate whatever technologies that come along in the future, as well as help the Army prepare for the future as it looks ahead toward 2020.

“What are the imperatives of the network in 2020? Ten years ago we had no idea where we’d be today with mobile technology,” she said. “We’re working on implementation [of a common operating environment],” which will reduce redundancy and complexity in integration in the field as well as streamline the use of too many mobile devices across the various Army program executive offices.

Lawrence also outlined progress with the Afghan Mission Network, now headquartered with the 82nd Airborne at Ft. Bragg, N.C., and being used as a critical tool for pre-deployment training to help soldiers arrive in the field better prepared for collaboration with all mission partners.

Additionally, she praised the efforts of the NIE, a major testing and evaluation effort that began in June and will recur twice a year going forward. She said the ability to test new technologies in an operational environment with soldiers in the force generation phase – rather than while deployed – is helping the Army better build standardized, modernized network capabilities.

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a staff writer covering military networks for Defense Systems.

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