Military branches can now IM

The Army, Navy and Air Force now have secure enterprisewide instant messaging (IM) among the three branches, officials from the company providing the technology said today.

The Army Knowledge Online and Navy Knowledge Online Web portals and the Air Force’s Knowledge Management Portal are using the Inter-domain Messaging (IDM) gateway from Bantu to set up an interoperable framework for real-time collaboration, said Lawrence Schlang, Bantu’s president and chief executive officer.

More than 3.5 million users can now use IDM to search for people across service branches and Internet domains, Schlang said. They can also text-message one another and hold conferences.

“Bantu creates a virtual real-time information-sharing network across the entire military, enabling faster and greater awareness and collaboration,” said Lt. Col. Joe Besselman, program director for the Air Force’s Global Combat Support Systems and the Air Force Portal, in a statement.

IDM gateway is policy-driven and enforces role-based access for users, Schlang said. The system automatically populates users’ contact lists with appropriate people in their chain of command and communities of interest.

The system can carry communications via the military’s sensitive and secret networks, Schlang said. The interoperable IM system will help improve information sharing and shorten the decision-making cycle, he said.

The federal government is learning from the private sector that IM is useful, Schlang said. IDM Gateway is network-centric and helps the branches act jointly, he said.

Intelligence agencies are expected to start using IDM gateway soon to enable communication between them and the military, Schlang said. The company is interested in setting up the system for the Homeland Security Department, too.

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