Army sees 'Year of the Network'

The Army's "Year of the Network" starts later this month at Training and Doctrine Command as officials from the Defense Department, the services and military agencies gather at Fort Monroe, Va., to discuss their roles in the Future Combat System's network.

Gen. Kevin Byrnes, Tradoc commanding general, said in October that the Army would study and simulate the FCS network until the service gets it right. The FCS network will connect 18 manned and robotic air and ground vehicles using a fast, secure communications network.

The Army must define the roles that each service and military agency will play in the FCS network before building it. The service will then write its doctrine and meet with the Marine Corps and Joint Forces Command, located in Norfolk, Va., said Brig. Gen. Robert Mixon Jr., Tradoc's deputy chief of staff for developments, during a March 5 interview. He spoke at the Association of the United States Army's annual winter convention in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

The FCS network will be the military's largest mobile, ad hoc network. The network's operating system is called the System of Systems Common Operating Environment.

"The network is not wires or data or platforms. The heart and soul is the middleware that connects them together," said Dan Zanini, FCS deputy program manager at Science Applications International Corp., speaking March 5 at the conference. Boeing Co. and SAIC, the FCS lead systems integrator, help the Army manage the $14.9 billion program.

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