Budget shortages said leading to more DOD collaboration

The Defense Department’s technology budget likely will fall in the next five to 10 years, but that will not deter some agencies from pursuing DOD missions, an Air Force general has said.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Charles Croom, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency, said Sept. 6 that the budget challenges will bring DOD components closer together.

“I embrace them,” Croom said of potential budget shortfalls. “The lack of money will drive jointness. The services are never more joint than when there is a shortage of money.”

The methodology DISA has developed to deliver software quickly lets the agency adapt to budget contingencies, Croom said at a lunch in Arlington, Va., sponsored by the Industry Advisory Council and the American Council for Technology.

“Speed is what it is all about,” he said.

Croom cited DISA’s adoption of Army Knowledge Online as an example.

“It may not have been the best solution, but AKO already had two million customers,” Croom said. “Now we have to move the Army and the Air Force to a solution that can be joint.”

DISA’s Network-Enabled Command Capabilities, a suite of battlefield information services, is another example of how the agency hopes to push capabilities out more quickly, he added.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology asked DISA to wait two years to deploy the capabilities, Croom said. “We took the approach of developing the software in small steps, building up trust and delivering a module every month,” he said. “Our new thinking is to deliver small capabilities very quickly, not to go away for two or three years. It’s better to deliver an 80 percent solution than pushing the schedule out.”

DISA also wants to deliver information to the tactical edge. “Information is no good if it is kept centralized,” Croom said.

The Secure Mobile Environment Portable Electronic Device will help bring data and communications directly to warfighters, Croom said. The device, developed by General Dynamics and L3 Communications, is a cellular device that will handle classified and unclassified voice, data and network browsing. The first units are scheduled to be delivered next month.

Buxbaum is a freelance writer in Bethesda, Md.

About the Author

Peter Buxbaum is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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