Army, industry tackle software challenges

The service is working with industry to ensure that software used in its systems can support the Army's needs

As the Army continues along its transformational path toward the Objective Force, the service is working with industry to ensure that the software used in its weapons systems and data networks can support the Army's current and future needs.

The service recently partnered with Carnegie Mellon University's Software Engineering Institute (SEI) on the Army Strategic Software Improvement Program (ASSIP), said Claude Bolton Jr., assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology. He was speaking today in Arlington, Va., at a software acquisition conference sponsored by SEI.

ASSIP, which was launched at the beginning of fiscal 2003, is focused on improving the service's software programs and methodologies "from a strategic standpoint," Bolton said. He added that he would soon be meeting with SEI officials to coordinate future goals and initiatives. The program already is receiving great support from soldiers in the field and SEI staff.

Bolton challenged the conference's private-sector attendees to help the Army overcome its six main software challenges by producing tools that are flexible, expansible, survivable, sustainable, affordable and secure.

The Objective Force is a strategy to develop advanced information technology tools, vehicles and weapons that will make the Army's armored forces better able to survive an all-out fight. Future Combat Systems (FCS) is the centerpiece of that effort and will equip Army vehicles with information and communications systems to give soldiers capabilities for command and control, surveillance and reconnaissance, direct and nonline-of-sight weapons firing, and personnel transport.

FCS is the Army's "No.1 science and technology effort," which means the service has put a lot of funding and effort into the program, Bolton said.

He added that FCS is expected to have about 10 million lines of code in its initial release later this decade, but it could include as many as 100 million lines of code within 20 years. "Someday I'd like to get to 1 billion lines of code, do it in my lifetime and affordably," Bolton said.

The investments in FCS and overall budget tightening caused the Army to terminate 18 programs last year, and Bolton said he will be making calls later this week to certain members of Congress to inform them which programs are scheduled for termination next year.

Bolton said he would not detail the new program cuts until the fiscal 2004 budget is publicly released.

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