Pentagon plots massive IT grid

The Pentagon's Global Information Grid may be only a concept now, but by

2006 it likely will grow into one of the Defense Department's biggest programs,

according to a recently released market report.

GIG is designed to provide seamless, fully interoperable data to military

forces, from regional commanders in chief to soldiers in the foxhole. In

short, it is the glue that holds together the military's disparate command,

control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance

systems.

GIG is not yet a formal program and therefore has no money being allocated

directly to it in the federal budget. But the concept is being fed by hundreds

of existing programs, including the Future Combat System, DD-21, Warfighter

Information Network-Tactical and the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications

System.

By 2006, GIG will become one of the Pentagon's largest programs, according

to officials with the Government Electronics and Information Technology

Association (GEIA), which recently released its 10-year market forecast.

Until 2005, the work related to GIG will lie in myriad programs. But

after 2006, the GIG will congeal and become its own line item — probably

becoming "the largest system of systems item that we can see for now out

there," said Franz Hirschmann, co-chairman of GEIA's committee on information

assurance.

GIG will be funded with money already in the budget rather than with

additional funds, Hirschmann said.

Although GIG is a high priority within the office of assistant secretary

of Defense for command, control, communications and intelligence and for

the Joint Chiefs of Staff, it has not yet received great support from a

national figure, such as the president, members of Congress or the secretary

of Defense, GEIA officials said.

"Something as important and as big as the GIG should have full presidential

support. In the absence of that, [the military] would settle for the full

support of the secretary of Defense," Hirschmann said.

GEIA released its five-year forecast Oct. 19, showing that the Defense

Department spent $22 billion on information technology in fiscal 2000 and

estimating that DOD IT spending will grow 1.1 percent annually over the

next five years, reaching $24.3 billion by 2005.

The organization released its 10-year forecast Oct. 31, projecting that

Defense spending overall will grow to $411 billion in current dollars by

the end of the decade.

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