Army chief pushes better IT use

The Army can better use information technology to deliver supplies to troops and share data and intelligence between commanders, the service's top officer said Feb. 10 on Capitol Hill.

"We have not made the best use of IT to fix this," said Gen. Peter Schoomaker, Army chief of staff, during a hearing on the Army, Navy and Air Force's proposed fiscal 2005 budgets held by the Senate Armed Services Committee. The Army's $98.5 billion budget request includes $5.3 billion for IT, according to a Government Printing Office fiscal 2005 budget document.

The general responded to a question from Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) on the Army's logistics problems during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Clinton cited an Army report that soldiers lacked sufficient communications and energy systems to transport water, clothing, ammunition and food to troops in combat.

The senator suggested the Army "get a better grip on technology," such as fuel cells found now on NASA's space shuttles, to solve its fuel and energy woes. Schoomaker said the service continues to work on its logistics processes and "is going to school on this piece."

The former special forces operator also said the Army can better use IT to give soldiers in combat more consistent locations of friendly and enemy forces on the battlefield. Committee chairman Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) and vice chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) told Schoomaker to send them a memo on Blue-Force Tracking and other tactical intelligence issues concerning the Army.

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