The Army wants to converge its multiple networks into a single architecture that offers the potential to reduce complexity and lead to more efficient battlefield communications. An upcoming exercise focuses on advancing this initiative with the ultimate goal of collapsing the service's many small and mid-sized networks into one.
Over the years, the Army has developed a variety of networks to support communications and command and control, explains Col. Mark Elliott, USA, director of the Army’s LandWarNet Mission Command. For example, Army intelligence and logistics forces operate their own networks to meet their specific mission needs. “All of these networks have grown up over time.”
The Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) exercise scheduled to take place in Fort Bliss, Texas, October 22 through November 11, will begin this data transport convergence process in a controlled environment. The first phase, which kicks off in the upcoming NIE 14.1, will collapse Army intelligence networks into the service’s communications infrastructure and work out the details and issues as they arise, he explains.
Col. Elliott is sanguine about the Army’s prospects for successfully merging its various networks because by working through the NIE, there is no need to push the process unnecessarily. “You don’t have to rush to failure,” he says. During the NIE, the Army will set up the various operational networks needed to support a deployed force, such as its intelligence capabilities. The service will examine how intelligence traffic can be moved onto the broader Army network, and then it will take metrics and make adjustments to make the process work smoothly. The Army has extensive intelligence systems with many specific mission requirements, so it will take time to determine if all or only some of those functions can be moved to the broader service network, he says.