Army touts speedy tech development at conference

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — The convention floor at this year’s Army Team C4ISR 2008 Joint Symposium included familiar Humvees, satellite dishes and olive-drab boxes of varying sizes. But there was also something new.

Army leaders and their industry partners have emphasized the development of technologies that they can field to combat troops faster than ever before. Although they recognize that changing the Army’s culture will be difficult — in some cases, impossible —  the products on display at the conference were signs of progress.

For example, STG designed and built a new version of a Humvee that carries servers and power racks into combat. The company needed only eight months to create a finished product.

The Humvee carries 12 Dell servers in addition to the communications and power generation equipment for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations, said Jeffery Billings, an STG production manager. 

Maj. Gen. Dennis Via, commanding general of the Communications-Electronics Life Cycle Management Command at Fort Monmouth, N.J., said the Army is focused on developing new capabilities for combat troops and commanders and sustaining those systems.

Fort Monmouth is scheduled to close in 2011 and move its operations to the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. Via said the change offers an opportunity to make his command run more efficiently. Plans are underway to consolidate and host Fort Monmouth’s data and applications before eventually moving to a cloud computing model.

If the plans proceed as expected, former Fort Monmouth personnel should be able to plug in their computers, log on and have all their applications and data — just like they would in New Jersey — on the first day at the Aberdeen facility.

Via said the Army has other improvements in the works.

“Over the past decade, the Army has moved from the exploration of a net-centric concepts to developing those concepts in training, demonstrations and exercises,” Via said. “Today, developing technologies and C4ISR capabilities remains the Army’s top priority, but now like never before, we have a much better grasp of the specific areas in which we need to develop these technologies and how we fit them into the overall pictures.”

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