U.S. Army Heads Toward Single Network

August 24, 2011
By Rita Boland

The generals who lead the U.S. Army's cyber force are responding to a diminishing budget believe that changes to its architecture already under way will not only save money but also greatly increase military cybersecurity. Among the first advances are the introduction of servicewide enterprise email-a move that will save the service an estimated $500 million-and the introduction of secure computer tablets that accept CACs and allows individuals access to the data they need. Lt. Gen. Susan S. Lawrence, USA, chief information officer/G-6, says the first step toward the Army network of 2020 is an infrastructure that accepts a single ID-the CAC-and brings soldiers directly to their desktops no matter where they are and allows access to the applications he or she needs. This year, the final two hubs are being completed, to accomplish this capability. The next piece of her vision for the service involves cloud computing, but she admits that to move in this direction the service must first clean up the number of applications and amount of data it currently has. The general's four imperatives for the near future are to establish a secure, standard-based network; increase the ability for warfighters to collaborate; access the network at the point of need; and ensure that this network is capable, reliable and most importantly trusted. She admits culture change remains one of the largest challenges to realizing this vision. Also participating in the media briefing with Gen. Lawrence were Lt. Gen. Rhett A. Hernandez, USA, commanding general, U.S. Army Cyber Command. Gen. Hernandez's primary focus will be on developing a cyber brigade in response to the growing number of cyberthreats. To this end, the Army is incorporating cyber operations into military exercises and conducting a cyber assessment as part of the Network 2020 Strategic Plan. In addition, the service is introducing the use of avatars and gaming to attract and train new recruits. Maj. Gen. Jennifer L. Napper, USA, commanding general, Network Enterprise Technology Command/9th Signal Command, explained that one of her command's primary focuses today is transforming the way it delivers capabilities and services to camps, posts and stations globally. To accomplish this, the service is taking an enterprise approach and has developed Army Baseline IT Services to identify what capabilities are needed and the resources available to deliver those, and then it will whittle that down to one enterprise. Gen. Napper pointed out that one of the biggest challenges to achieving this vision is the availability of qualified personnel. Approximately 34 percent of the people qualified to carry out this work will be eligible to retire in the near future. As in Gen. Hernandez's units, the goal will be to find and train-or retrain-personnel to develop this enterprisewide network. Maj. Gen. Alan R. Lynn, USA, Chief of Army Signal Corps, also briefed the press about his vision for the future of the force, which includes fundamental changes. He explained that current processes are based on the Army that fought in operation Desert Storm when the goal was to communicate down to the battalion level. Now, the goal is to be able to communicate down to company and below levels, a gain that must be accomplished without additional personnel. This will require smaller, more capable teams using smaller and more capable systems, he explained. The Army will look to off-the-shelf solutions to provide these, which is likely to include secure cell phones issued to more soldiers. Gen. Lawrence concluded the briefing calling the future a "year of action. In the next 18 to 24 months, you will see a different [Army] network."

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