October 27, 2011

The Unresolved Issues of US Army's Network Centric Transformation


News Report

A recent report from GAO (United States Government Accountability Office) discusses the US Department of the Army’s recent initiatives to acquire ground-based combat and tactical vehicles and an information network capability.

In the wake of the June 2009 decision to cancel the Future Combat System, which included a new class of manned ground vehicles anchored by an advanced information network, the US Army began developing plans for a new Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) and an incremental tactical network capability.

But today the US Army continues to struggle to define and implement a variety of modernization initiatives since the Future Combat System program was terminated in 2009. The most recent example of this is the termination of the ground mobile radio (more info here), which will require the US Army to develop new plans for relaying information to the soldier.

These are some excerpts from GAO's report:

"US Army has taken a number of steps to put together a more realistic strategy to develop and field an information network for its deployed forces than the network envisioned for the Future Combat System program. However, the US Army is proceeding without defining requirements for the network and articulating clearly defined capabilities. As a result, the US Army runs the risk of developing a number of stovepipe capabilities that may not work together as a network, thus wasting resources"

"Under US Army's new approach, numerous programs will be developed separately and coordinated centrally, and network increments will be integrated and demonstrated in advance of fielding rather than the previous practice of ad hoc development and integration in the field" (more info here)

"The network integration evaluation provided an extensive amount of data and knowledge on the current Army network and candidate systems for the network. However, since the network integration evaluation serves as an evaluation instrument, it is important to have test protocols that capture objective measures and data on the network’s performance. Two independent Army test oversight agencies, reflecting on the evaluation results, expressed concern over not having proper instrumentation for the overall evaluations; in particular, not having the necessary instrumentation to conduct operational tests on large integrated networks and not having clear network requirements."

Read the full report here.

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