Army officials describe unified network technology needs


In order to make the unified network vision a reality, the military will need to embrace a range of technical capabilities, including 5G, zero-trust cybersecurity, software-defined networks and data fabric.

Several army officials participating in a unified network panel at AFCEA TechNet Augusta Conference in Augusta, Ga., discussed some of the capabilities needed to converge tactical and corporate networks into one. Major General Maria Barrett, United States, Commander Army Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM), moderated the panel. It included Ross Guckert, program director for enterprise information systems; Nicholaus Saacks, Acting Deputy Managing Program Officer for Command, Control and Tactical Communications; CW5 Danny Burns, USA, CTO, Deputy Chief of Staff, G-6; and Brig. Gen. Jeth Rey, USA, Director, Cross-Functional Network Team.

Guckert said he’s excited about the military’s modernization strategy, in part because it’s tied to a five-year budget. “We are looking at very innovative approaches and investments in everything from 5G to WiFi, commercial solutions for classified software-defined networks, zero trust, ICAM [identity credential access management], and regionalized and globalized SIPR [Secret Internet Protocol Router Network], Just to name a few. “

He reported that a number of pilot programs have taken place and are underway to help inform the strategy.

“We are positioning ourselves to go as fast as the funding and the strategy will allow,” he said.

Guckert also noted that his office is ready to use a range of acquisition tools, such as other transaction authorities, DevSecOps and incremental development “so that we can deliver this capability as quickly as possible”.

Saacks suggested that the data fabric is “extremely important” to the Army’s network unification goals. “As we build a different transportation and have resilient transportation options and PACE [primary, alternate, contingency and emergency] plans on how we’re going to communicate, it’s extremely important that we have a way to define the data and get it to where it needs to be, ”he said. “I don’t think we have a problem today that there isn’t enough data. We have a lot of data at our disposal. The challenge today is that we don’t have a structure in place to precisely tag data or identify data, prioritize it.

While the service has some of these capabilities, “there are probably plenty of ways to do it faster and smarter so that data travels at a relevant speed,” he added.

CW5 Burns described the technologies he considers fundamental for a unified network. They include 5G, low and near earth orbit satellite communications, and ICAM.

General Rey also stressed the importance of data, especially in the environment of mission partners. “When we look at data and structure data and look at how we share data in the future, we always need to include our partners in this piece. If we will see JADC2 [joint all-domain command and control] realized, it’s going to be a [Mission Partner Environment] perspective where we share this data, ”he said.

Going forward, General Rey added, how the military creates, marks and standardizes data will be important. “If we continue to create data the way we are – whether it’s sensing data, Intel data, whatever – we’re going to be in the same place we’ve been for the past four decades that I have been. ‘I was in the military,’ he said. “We have to see it differently. We need to move to a cloud environment. We have to secure it. We transported it. I’m not taking my tactical Gmail to the field, but I get there when I’m there, so we need to find a solution.

General Barrett noted, “There has to be a framework on how we’re going to fight this network. If you’re willing to converge that, make it transparent. We need to rethink roles and responsibilities at the level. “


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