The chief information officer for the U.S. Marine Corps says that in an era when he and his colleagues in the American military would like tactical radios to be a cross between a walkie-talkie and a smartphone, there is a big challenge to be overcome. And no, it has nothing to do with bandwidth, storage or even the device itself, although all of those are important considerations.
Instead, Brig. Gen. Kevin Nally, USMC, director, command, control, communications and computers, and chief information officer (CIO), U.S. Marine Corps, says, “I am frustrated by waiting too long to get current, emerging information technology into the infrastructure. Gen. Nally made his comments during a recent edition of the AFCEA Answers radio program.
The general says this frustration on his part is compounded by the reality that because his service is part of the Department of the Navy, he does not have the same kind of acquisition authority that CIO colleagues in other services and most civilian agencies enjoy.
“At the speed of cyber, I need it now, I don’t need it tomorrow. I think with the handheld devices that we will use in the future, that we are developing right now with DISA [the Defense Information Systems Agency] are good, they continue to improve, DISA has been very helpful. But it has to be secure in a cyber environment,” he says.
Gen. Nally also notes that young Marines just entering the service within the last few years are easier to train using new handheld devices, especially those based on commercial smartphone technology, because they grew up using similar devices.
The U.S. Army has awarded an Indefinite-Delivery, Indefinite Quantity contract for the first mid-tier networking vehicular radios (MNVR), which will provide a link between forces at the company and platoon echelons and their higher headquarters for rapid distribution of data, imagery and other information. The Army awarded a $8.4 million delivery order to Harris Corporation for up to 232 of the multi-channel radios. These radios will be used for test, certification and integration with current and future Army vehicle platforms. The MNVR radios delivered under the contract are scheduled to undergo further testing, including a Limited User Test at the Army’s Network Integration Evaluation 15.1 in fall 2014. Other initial MNVR radios will be used for certification and integration with vehicle platforms including Strykers, Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles and High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles.