SIGNALScape

JIE Moves Boldly Forward

September 12, 2013
By Rita Boland

The Joint Information Environment (JIE) is well on its way to becoming a pervasive reality for the U.S. Armed Services and its coalition partners. The version at U.S. European Command reached initial operational capability on July 31, and the Army now has 1.5 million users on enterprise email, a key service under the environment.
 
Today at TechNet Augusta, Lt. Gen. Mark S. Bowman, J6 of the Joint Staff, said that the JIE is necessary because of real problems that exist in current environments. The foundation of the new capability is a single security architecture. Though the effort began as a measure to increase efficiencies, the military now realizes it offers much more, the general explained. Over time, the various services, commands and agencies created their own information technology. “That didn’t help us a ton on the battlefield,” Gen. Bowman said. The JIE will provide a unified enterprise for everyone, including mission partners.
 
Industry will be essential to ensuring that evolving capabilities are integrated as appropriate. “There’s no single answer,” Gen. Bowman explained. “The JIE is not static.” It also is far-reaching, intended for use at all echelons in all operating environments.  Gen. Bowman said everyone will join the new plan, though not in the same way. He compared the JIE services to a menu. Users eventually will have all the items, but not at the same time or in the same order. Earlier this month, the Defense Department Chief Information Officer Teri Takai directed that all department members will migrate to enterprise email. Organizations must submit plans within 120 days.
 

What Sequestration Means to Army Materiel

September 11, 2013
By Rita Boland

“No other field has changed so completely, so rapidly as signals has in the last 10 years,” Gen. Dennis Via, USA, commander, U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC), said during TechNet Augusta on Wednesday. During his address, he asked the Army’s communications community to help his organization provide the capabilities soldiers will need even as sequestration makes providing them more difficult. Senior leaders should worry about the budget, leaving soldiers in the field to worry about coming home safely.

As U.S. involvement in Afghanistan comes to an end, the Army is resetting and establishing itself to be ready for the next contingency operation. The AMC is taking on new roles and responsibilities, making adjustments as necessary to play its part in the changes. The command is expanding its Enhanced Army Global Logistics Enterprise (EAGLE) effort for motors. Previously, only the Reserves had the program, according to Gen. Via, but within the month it should be available at forts Benning, Campbell and Gordon as well as Redstone Arsenal. Even with budget reductions, the command is engaged in big spending. Of the $2.2 billion the Army spent on science and technology in the last year, the AMC executed $1.6 billion of it. There is $28 billion worth of equipment in Afghanistan, and the command is looking to bring $22 billion of it back to the United States.

The prospect of leaner funding is a big challenge. Gen. Via explained that leaders have tough decisions to make on money and personnel. The command is mandated to reduce its manning from 580,000 to 490,000 persons. “And we may go lower than that,” Gen. Via said. “We don’t know.” He added that any possible changes, including closing down AMC locations, are on the table as decision makers try to comply with sequestration.

In an interesting side note, Gen. Via is the only Army Signal Corps soldier to obtain the rank of four-star general.

Team Signal and LandWarNet 2020

September 11, 2013
By Rita Boland



Network modernization is the key to the U.S. Army of the future, and soldiers already are reaping the benefits of updates to the LandWarNet (LWN). The chief information officer (CIO)/G-6 is leading a charge to improve infrastructure by replacing copper circuit switches with necessary state-of-the art technology. “That’s what we have to fix,” said Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence, USA, the service’s CIO/G-6, during AFCEA International’s TechNet Augusta on Wednesday. Improvements at Fort Hood, for example, are going to increase bandwidth there by more than 1,000 times. Along the way, other efficiencies are realized. By turning off unused phones, the Army is saving $14 million a year.

Many alterations are under way to create LWN 2020. By moving to a capability-set solution, the Army will enjoy three key advantages over older, program-of-record approaches. They are: the ability to reprioritize what installations to modernize next based on pressing requirements; the ability to take advantage of the rapid pace of information technology advancements by buying fewer items more often; and saving money as prices drop for the same items over time. “With a program of record, you just buy,” Gen. Lawrence said. Already, the Army is using the capability set to modernize 12 of its installations.

The Shape of the Cyberforce

September 10, 2013
By Rita Boland

As cyber becomes increasingly important to military operations, the personnel necessary to success in the field are a major focus of attention. Senior noncommissioned officers from all four branches of the U.S. military and the Army National Guard sat on a panel to today discussing this issue during TechNet Augusta.
 
These leaders addressed the issue with training up cyberwarriors over a year or more, only to lose them quickly to other internal organizations or to the private sector. The Navy’s representative, Senior Petty Officer Nathan Maleu, said he is in favor of longer terms for sailors in the cyberfield and in fact would like to see that across the military as long as the term periods do not negatively impact careers. He also commented on group efforts stating “I’m really happy we’re standing up service cyber teams,” but he would like to see a more aggressive approach to standing up joint cyber teams. Air Force representative Master Sgt. Lonnie Becnel shared that the Air Force actively is working to extend tours. Another concern in his service is trying to find the people to become members of cyberteams. A lack of strong assessment tools makes it hard to know who really is qualified.
 
The Army National Guard is looking at how to recruit soldiers now and keep them through 2030 and beyond. The active Army and Marine Corps representatives expressed sentiments similar to their colleagues. However, Master Gunnery Sgt. Adam Bethard, USMC, noted that the Marine Corps has no  cyber career field. Rather, current career fields will receive more cybertraining. 

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