Interoperability may hold key to retention
- By Dan Verton
- May 19, 2000
BAUMHOLDER, Germany — A major military communications exercise under way
here may hold the key to curtailing the record number of people leaving
the military because of too much time spent away from home.
Military officials taking part in Combined Endeavor 2000, a communications
exercise involving soldiers and equipment from 35 nations, said test results
may show the United States and other NATO nations how to reduce the personnel
and equipment needed to maintain military communications networks during
crises such as those in Bosnia and Kosovo.
The problem, officials said, is that too often the communications equipment
purchased by different militaries around the world does not conform to the
same standards, requiring nations to deploy extra personnel and equipment
to ensure network support. Combined Endeavor is designed to fix those problems.
"The simple answer is interoperability," said Army Lt. Col. Ronald Stimeare,
exercise director for CE 2000, referring to the process of making sure the
communications systems from NATO nations are able to work together. "People
are getting out [of the military]. When asked why, the answer they give
is, "I'm always in the field; I'm always deployed. My wife is ready to leave
me and my kids don't know who I am.' "
In particular, Stimeare is referring to the cadre of high-tech communications
specialists who are not only in high demand these days from their military
masters but are also "very marketable" in the private sector.
Stimeare, who last year served as technical director for the exercise,
said it costs far less to develop an interface card to a communications
system than it does to send troops and equipment every time they are needed
to set up and maintain a network. "To me, that's the blinding flash of the
obvious," he said.