Pentagon seeks more IT money

SAN DIEGO -- Major Defense Department computer and communications programs will see significant increases in President Bush's 2006 budget request due for release next week, the Pentagon's CIO said this week.

Programs that will "do well" in the 2006 budget include the Global Information Grid-Bandwidth Expansion (GIG-BE), the Transformational Satellite project and GIG-Information Assurance, said Linton Wells, DOD chief information officer, Feb. 2 at the annual West 2005 conference sponsored by AFCEA International and the U.S. Naval Institute.

Increases in funding for these projects show that "digits did better than widgets" in a budget that will see sharp cuts to major weapons programs and systems, Wells said. The funding increases will further the Pentagon's netcentric warfare vision, Wells added.

The Transformational Satellite program has already received a funding increase for 2006. The Air Force on Feb. 1 announced that the Boeing Satellite System divisions of Boeing won a $250 million contract for development and definition, which represents a $50 million increase in the 2006 budget. This follows a $90 million decrease in the 2005 budget.

The multibillion-dollar Joint Tactical Radio System project is the only major communications program to be "restructured" in the 2006 budget, Wells said. He added that he was disappointed in the progress of the first cluster of radios being developed by Boeing, but declined to provide any further details until the budget is released next week.

To make their netcentric vision a reality, Pentagon officials must "figure out how to better manage bandwidth" requirements of mobile users and also "develop better modulation schemes" to help the Defense Department manage its radio frequency spectrum resources, Wells said.

The post-tsunami relief operation that U.S. military units have been conducting in the Indian Ocean since late December highlighted the need for computers and communications that can easily connect with systems of civil agencies, other nations and non-governmental organizations, Wells said.

Defense officials must develop an "integrated operations" approach to deal with such missions in the future that will allow civil and non-governmental users to be easily connected to humanitarian relief networks, Wells said.

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