Bandwidth hinders Army IT

A trio of the Army's information technology leaders agree that bandwidth availability is one of the main problems hindering the service's IT transformation and Army knowledge management goals.

Speaking this week at the Army Small Computer Program's Information Technology conference in Reno, Nev., Kevin Carroll, program executive officer for Enterprise Information Systems Inc., and Miriam Browning, the Army's principal director for enterprise integration, agreed that bandwidth is one the service's top technology obstacles as it attempts to form its enterprise infostructure vision and achieve its knowledge management goals. Those goals include managing the enterprise infostructure and establishing the Army Knowledge Online portal.

Connectivity problems and the infrastructure at installations had long been overlooked and underfunded, and now the Army is "trying to overcome years of neglect," said Daniel Bradford, director of the Army's Technology Integration Center (TIC) at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.

He added that the Army must rely on industry to help solve the bandwidth problems, but that could be slow going because it would take huge financial and material investments from those companies.

"It's clearly a money issue," Bradford said. "There's no overall holistic view. We haven't had money in the past and we still don't. We're talking billions of dollars here."

During his April 24 presentation, Bradford listed more than a dozen current "hot" Army technologies, and singled out Gigabit Ethernet networks — as well as the related areas of Internet Protocol and the World Wide Web — as the most complete solutions for achieving the service's goals.

Videoconferencing, bandwidth availability, directory services and AKM were among the "hot" areas that may be on the right track but need more work, he said.

Overall, the Army faces a "chicken-and-the-egg question" when it comes to IT modernization because the service's leadership wants to save money on technology in order to bolster its future force, but a large initial investment is needed to make that happen, Bradford said.

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