'The Network': The Critical Enabler for a Transforming Army at War

By Boutelle, Steven W. | Army, October 2004 | Go to article overview

'The Network': The Critical Enabler for a Transforming Army at War


Boutelle, Steven W., Army


A nation at war must act aggressively to equip its soldiers with a world-class communications capability that is fully interoperable with joint and allied forces. Even while fighting the global war on terrorism, the U.S. Army is simultaneously undergoing the most radical transformation since World War II to create joint-capable, modular fighting units that can rapidly deploy around the world. As the Army makes the transition to the Future Force, the network becomes increasingly more important and a keystone enabler for both the Current and Future Forces. Forward deployed forces must be able to reach back from anywhere in the world to tap into intelligence, logistics and information resources and collaboration tools in real time. The touchstone of America's way of war is a joint force, frequently as part of a coalition team. The Army cannot be satisfied with simple interoperability. It must achieve true joint interdependence, combining service capabilities to maximize their complementary and reinforcing effects while minimizing their vulnerabilities. To achieve joint interdependence, service interoperability must be a given. To ensure interoperability, the CIO/G-6, with the Army Architecture Integration Cell (AAIC), develops and enforces interoperable Army network architectures supporting the joint technical architecture (JTA).

Interoperability is not optional. Interoperability exists today at the network level and extends through space-based and terrestrial transmission systems, and all new systems must have joint interoperability and interdependencies as key performance parameters. The Army is working armin-arm with its sister services to develop networks to jointly manage the service-provided elements of the global information grid (GIG). The Army is migrating to commercial standards and web-based technologies to further strengthen interoperability across the joint, interagency and multinational environments. In accordance with the JTA and current DoD guidance, the Army has nearly completed the migration to an Internet protocol (IP)-based network as part of the larger joint network and is moving to IP version 6.0 for a more efficient and interoperable network. This transition and the adoption of other commercial-based information technology protocols and standards serve as the foundation for achieving joint, interagency and multinational interoperability goals.

The LandWarNet, the Army's portion of the GIG, consists of all Army networks, from sustaining military bases to forward deployed forces. LandWarNet is the combination of infostructure and services from across the Army and consists of: the National Guard's GuardNET and the Army Reserve's ARNET; echelons-above-corps connectivity to the GIG supporting combatant commanders, land component commanders, joint force commanders and providing the bridge between the deployed soldier and the GIG; and echelons-corps-and-below connectivity to the GIG supporting soldiers, brigade combat teams and division and corps elements located in the deployed theater.

When fielded, the warfighter information networktactical (WIN-T), joint tactical radio system (JTRS), transformational communications system, GIG-bandwidth expansion and network centric enterprise services will be integral parts of LandWarNet. These programs, with the Army installation information infostructure modernization program (I3MP) and DoD standard tactical entry point (STEP)/teleport, will all contribute to the enhanced network capability required to support deployed forces from "foxhole to factory." In addition, the Army is moving to quickly provide the available capabilities of the WIN-T program to soldiers now through the joint network transport capability-spiral (JNTC-S) initiative. The 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) (Mechanized) will receive Spiral 1 (JNTC-S I) in fall 2004, followed by the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), 10th Infantry Division (Light Infantry) and the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) in 2005.

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