DOD orders all systems to comply with IPv6 by 2008

'I would anticipate we're going to have a major part of DOD move to IPv6 in 2005.'

'Defense Department CIO John stenbit

Any military communications systems bought after Oct. 1 must comply with a new IP standard, Defense Department CIO John Stenbit mandated this month.

Stenbit announced plans to switch to IP Version 6 as the department standard to integrate sensors, weapons and systems on DOD's Global Information Grid, an enterprise network designed to link military systems.

But he ordered that acquisitions and programs also must remain compatible with IP Version 4, currently in operation for nearly the entire Internet.

The move to the new IPv6 protocol will take place by 2008, as the standard evolves, Stenbit said.

'I would anticipate we're going to have a major part of DOD move to IPv6 in 2005,' Stenbit said.
DOD expects to complete all the layers of the global grid, including communications and applications, by 2010. Tightly integrated IP communications will be a key component.

IPv6 is designed to overcome limitations of the existing standard, which has been in use for more than three decades, Stenbit said. 'The real issue is that end-to-end security is done differently in a network-centered world than it is in telephone communications or in a broadcast, which is basically what we do today,' he said.

Better security

The successor to IPv4 improves system security and service quality, Stenbit said at a June 13 Pentagon briefing.

In addition to inadequate security and quality of service, IPv4 also is hampered by the worldwide depletion of 32-bit address space. Plus, Stenbit said, the commercial world is headed to IPv6, and DOD does not want to be left behind.

Stenbit said it's likely that larger Defense networks, such as the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet, will move to the new version before 2008 so the department can experiment.

NMCI, an enterprise network that will link voice, video and data communications at more than 300 Navy and Marine Corps installations, would be a good test system for many reasons, Stenbit said.

There is a large user base for NMCI, its configuration is centrally managed and the effects of switching to IPv6 can be isolated from the rest of DOD.

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