DOD funds battlefield IT and security

As part of a broad push for force modernization, the Defense Department next fiscal year will focus funding on such key information technology initiatives as battlefield digitization and information security, according to the department's fiscal 1999 budget request released today.

The $257 billion budget includes a $2.6 billion investment by the Army in Force XXI, an initiative to increase situational awareness in the battlefield by equipping soldiers with the latest computer and communications gear. The Army plans to increase funding over the next five years to put operational digitized forces into the field two years ahead of its original plan.

In conjunction with this and other investments in IT development and procurement, the fiscal 1999 budget also calls for $500 million to fund the government's recently created Defense Information Assurance Program, a joint DOD-National Security Agency initiative to investigate new tools and techniques for protecting critical defense and national information systems.

In a background briefing Friday, a senior Defense official described these investments as a necessary step to create the modernized force called for by the recent Quadrennial Defense Review and Defense Reform Initiative, which reviewed the department's present structure in light of future requirements.

"We put a great deal of emphasis on the need for a transformation strategy [that will] increase the technological advantage we have over any potential adversary," the Defense official said.

Given the increased attention on modernization, the Army now plans to deploy Force XXI at the division level in fiscal 2000, at the Corps in 2004 and throughout the Army by 2010. Next year's funding includes $99.5 million for a Force XXI Warfighting Rapid Acquisition Program, which accelerates the fielding of technology after it has been tested in battlefield experiments and other venues. It also includes the first $52 million for deploying Force XXI at the brigade level and below.

The Army's investment in Force XXI not only will fund the continued development of command and control systems but also will help to install a communications backbone, fielding battlefield sensors that feed data into Force XXI and inserting technology into various land and air fighting vehicles. A senior Army official said these investments would create the infrastructure not only for the Army of Force XXI but also "the Army after next."

But an IT-driven initiative such as Force XXI only emphasizes the need for DOD to develop the means to protect its information systems, a DOD official said. During the next five years, DOD plans to spend $2.8 billion under the Defense Information Assurance Program.

According to an official in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, about 80 percent of that funding will go toward developing and buying technology to protect information systems. The budget also pays for "red team" exercises, in which Defense and National Security Agency personnel attempt to break through their own security defenses.

However, as part of the information-assurance program, the government also is working closely with banks and other commercial organizations that are concerned about information attacks. "I would say the lion's share [of investment in information assurance] is in the commercial sector," the OSD official said.

The DOD-wide budget also boosts research and development spending on command, control and communications systems to $200 million from $150 million this fiscal year.

Other items in the budget request include:

* A DOD plan to invest $15.5 million in an Advanced IT Services Joint Program Office.

* A boost in spending for the Army's base communications information systems to $91.2 million, up from $50.2 million this year, and more than double funding for its Information System Security Program to $29.7 million from $13.4 million.

* The Navy's increase in funding for a variety of communications programs, including $90 million for ship communications automation, up from $29 million this year, and $75.8 million for its communications switching and control system, up from $43.6 million this year.

* A boost in the Air Force's base information infrastructure budget to $159.4 million, up from $110 million this year. Its research and development budget also calls for $70.1 million for the Global Broadcast System satellite-based communications backbone. The Air Force will eliminate R&D funding for the Worldwide Military Command and Control Management Systems and invest $13.7 million in R&D for the Global Command and Control System.

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