Afghan data network may launch

MONTEREY, Calif. — A new network to improve data sharing and intelligence gathering on the borders of Afghanistan may go operational, the Defense Department's acting chief information officer said today.

The new network-centric warfare initiative is high risk but could provide high rewards, said Linton Wells, acting assistant secretary of Defense for networks and information integration and CIO. He spoke today at the Milcom 2004 Conference, sponsored by AFCEA International.

Wells did not offer details on the classified program, which is in development. But he said the system would, for example, send and receive information on vehicles moving along the borders of Afghanistan. Military and intelligence officials believe al Qaeda members including Osama bin Laden reside in caves and underground tunnels in the mountainous region between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Defense Department's CIO said the military will spend $24 billion on major net-centric initiatives during the next five years. They include the Global Information Grid (GIG)-Bandwidth Expansion, Joint Tactical Radio System, Transformation Satellite Communications, Net-Centric Enterprise Services and GIG Information Assurance.

Wells said officials at the National Security Agency published a 2,200-page document in July that details an information assurance architecture and policy for GIG, the military's web of voice, video and data networks. "It's a good piece of work," he said.

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