More IT for warfighting

DOD requests $30.1 billion for 2006

Defense Department information technology officials asked lawmakers for $30.1 billion last week in their budget proposal for military IT spending for fiscal 2006.

The proposal seeks $10.7 billion for defense agencies, $7.1 billion for the Air Force, $6.2 billion for the Navy and $6.1 billion for the Army. The DOD IT budget document typically comes four weeks after President Bush submits the department's annual budget request, which this year totaled $419.3 billion.

The $30.1 billion request for military IT funding for 2006 represents a $2.9 billion increase from the $27.2 billion requested in 2005 and a $1.4 billion increase — or 4.9 percent — over the $28.7 billion received last year. DOD officials want to spend more on warfighting IT systems, said an official in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration and Chief Information Officer.

"What we see initially looks like a lot of growth in tactical and command and control systems," said the DOD CIO official familiar with the department's IT budget document.

The official said DOD IT officials do not expect a struggle to persuade lawmakers to support the funding increase because of the advantages that IT provides analysts and warfighters in finding and attacking smaller, more mobile enemy targets in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ray Bjorklund, senior vice president and chief knowledge officer at Federal Sources, agreed.

"IT is the enabler for transformation," Bjorklund said.

However, the DOD CIO official and Bjorklund said department IT leaders must explain the budget increase for warfighting IT systems, especially to lawmakers who question the progress made in updating the Pentagon's business IT systems. The proposed 4.9 percent budget increase is less than the proposed 7 percent increase for governmentwide IT spending, they said.

In the DOD IT budget document, the Air Force became the first service to request more than $7 billion for IT spending. "IT gives us the edge in the type of warfighting we're doing in the 21st century," said Brig. Gen. Brad Butler, the Air Force's deputy CIO.

Air Force officials want to spend $3.4 billion on national security systems, $2.9 billion on communications infrastructure and $0.7 billion on combat and business support systems. The dollar figures include $653 million for tactical data links, $235 million for long-haul communications and $153 million for the airborne-maritime version of the Joint Tactical Radio System, Butler said, speaking to industry officials last month at the Federal Networks 2005 Conference.

In the Navy's $6.2 billion IT budget request, service officials asked for $254 million for ship communications and $59.2 million for shore communications. In the Army's $6.1 billion IT budget request, service officials sought $294.4 million for the Installation Information Infrastructure Modernization Program, a project to update voice, video and data network hardware and software at Army bases, and $152.3 million for general automated data-processing equipment.

In other DOD budget news, Defense Information Systems Agency officials requested $1 billion for operations and maintenance, a relatively flat funding request compared with $1.1 billion in 2005. But DISA's procurement account edged upward for next year, $202 million, up from $148 million in 2005.

The bulk of that increase is allocated to the agency's teleport program that oversees installations with multiple satellite dishes capable of accessing DOD and commercial satellites.

DOD officials used research, development, test and evaluation accounts to push transformational technologies including the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency's Cognitive Computing program, with a budget request of $201 million in 2006, up more than $50 million from the 2005 request.

DARPA officials describe Cognitive Computing as a project to develop a system that could "reason, use represented knowledge, learn from experience, accumulate knowledge, explain itself, accept direction, be aware of its own behavior and capabilities as well as respond in a robust manner to surprises."

The proposed research budget also includes requests of $462.2 million for the information systems security program, up $10 million from the 2005 request, and $137 million for the network-centric warfare program, compared with $121.6 million last year.

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