Military services open the door to GIG-BE

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The last-mile links to GIG-BE will increase the Army's information capacity and means the service won't have to put as many soldiers in harm's way, CIO Maj. Gen. Steven Boutelle says.

Rick Steele

The Defense Information Systems Agency is footing the bill to wire its next-generation network to the doorstep of military agencies, but it's up to the individual services to make sure the net reaches users.

The Army, Air Force and Navy are working on projects that will extend the last-mile connectivity of DISA's Global Information Grid-Bandwidth Expansion, a Synchronous Optical Network with 10-Gbps throughput.

With the Army's multibillion-dollar Installation Information Infrastructure Modernization Program, the service is upgrading the wiring at Army sites to tie into GIG-BE, said the service's CIO, Lt. Gen. Steven Boutelle. He spoke at the GCN 2004 Enterprise Architecture Conference in Washington last month.

I3MP, part of the Digital Switched Systems Modernization Program, extends the reach of the $900 million GIG-BE program beyond the roughly 100 sites GIG-BE will reach. The Army has already upgraded some of its bases and will be bringing the network to more sites next year, Boutelle said.

The last-mile links to GIG-BE will increase the Army's information capacity and mean the service won't have to put as many soldiers in harm's way, he said. 'So you don't have to sustain a large force forward.'

The Air Force has its $4.7 billion Combat Information Transport System as the backbone network that will plug into GIG-BE, CIO John Gilligan said. CITS provides high-capacity transport of data, voice and video for all active-duty and Reserve Air Force bases. 'It puts a fiber-optic infrastructure and security at all of our bases,' Gilligan said.

CITS uses commercial products to modernize IT.

The Air Force is installing fiber in place of copper cable, replacing old equipment, upgrading voice-switching systems, providing network control centers and installing information assurance tools, Gilligan said.

The Navy will connect its IT architecture framework, called FORCEnet, with GIG-BE. FORCEnet integrates sailors, sensors, networks, command and control, platforms and weapons into a networked, distributed combat force, scalable from a ship to land and space, said Navy officials.

Earlier this year, Rear Adm. Thomas E. Zelibor, former Navy deputy CIO for command, control, communications and computers integration and policy, compared GIG to the national interstate highway system. The network establishes an infrastructure built by the government, which FORCEnet connects to, much like state roads link to federal highways, said Zelibor, now director of global operations for the U.S. Strategic Command.

'All users of this highway system employ the same traffic signals and signs for interoperability. FORCEnet builds Navy roads to the GIG interstate,' Zelibor told the House Armed Services Committee.

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