Letter to the Editor: AKO article misses point

The recent FCW article regarding the Army’s wrongheaded decision to defund AKO seems accurate in its content, but totally misses the key issues behind that horrendous decision by the Army. The implications of the Army’s actions are far reaching and more profound than the article would have a reader believe.

Having been a proponent of the AKO program for 14 years now, I have watched the values and capabilities of AKO grow to a point where it has become one of the few truly successful IT based initiatives that delivers real value for the dollars expended. Conversely, watching the Army and DISA’s clearly failing attempts at an Enterprise E-mail (EE) solution, one wonders how the Army can reach such a terrible decision.

Does it not seem a coincidence that shortly after the Congress refused to fund the EE initiative, suddenly the AKO program, which carries approximately the same funding as the Army wants for EE, becomes “no longer efficient or secure?” Is this an “end around” Congress or truly a move toward efficiency?

Anyone who asks knows that the transition to EE is moving at a best case rate of 1,000 users per day. With 800,000 users to go, somehow the Army suggests that it will complete its transition by 31 December, 2011. Apparently, the Army’s calendar has 800 days in it over the next six months. Fuzzy math?

The real wrongheaded factor here is the fact that the Army chooses to ignore the full value of AKO to our troops. Take a look at the “AKO Kudos” site and you’ll see just how dependent our heroes are on AKO for communication, collaboration and many other applications. What about the Friends and Family aspect of AKO where soldiers and their families can communicate? At 1,000 users per day, they’ll get EE access in the year 2020. How about our retirees and veterans who depend on AKO as their primary access vehicle? I guess they don’t matter either.

As a citizen I am all for efficiency and effective use of our tax dollars. That is exactly what AKO is. AKO is an efficient and effective use of our tax dollars in support of our warfighters and their families. To divert money from such a successful program to this fool’s errand called Enterprise E-mail seems poorly thought out, a diversion from important needs and a waste of our tax dollars.

Robert J. Guerra
Ashburn, Va.

Editor's note: The author is a partner at the consulting firm Guerra and Kiviat.

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