DMS demo marks beginning of end for AUTODIN system
For four days last month, the Army's project manager for the Defense Message System
demonstrated to dozens of visitors the future of military messaging once the Defense
Department phases out the antiquated AUTODIN system.
Col. Robert C. Raiford's audience included not only agency DMS managers but also
network and systems administrators. The Pentagon's telecommunications center sent 10
"We wanted to target the people who will have to put in DMS and make it
work," Raiford said.
The demonstration, held near Defense Information Systems Agency headquarters in
Arlington, Va., showed, for example, how DMS would route Microsoft Exchange e-mail to a
Lotus Notes client.
"My biggest mission right now is education," Raiford said. "Too many
people are tired of seeing briefings. They're saying, 'Show me that it works.'"
The demo took place around the same time as the initial operational test and evaluation
of DMS that ended Friday.
If the project team judges that DMS has passed the IOT&E
phase, the program late this month must receive approval from the Major Automated
Information Systems Review Council.
The MAISRC panel, chaired by Anthony Valletta, acting assistant secretary of Defense
for command, control, communications and intelligence, will decide whether DMS gets a
green light for departmentwide implementation.
Tom Clarke, DMS program manager, has said he is confident that the program will pass
IOT&E, based on a dry run that the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center
put it through earlier this summer at sites representing the military services.
The DMS components "had very few reported problems, but the dry run demonstrated
the need for improvements in user documentation and orientation," Clarke said.
"The dry run yielded the exact results for which it was designed, identifying the
problems that can be found only in a live operational environment," he said.
Like the dry run, IOT&E evaluated the DMS Release 1.0 components that support only
sensitive but unclassified traffic. DMS 2.0 is supposed to protect classified messages up
to the top secret level.
An interim release, DMS 1.1, is under development and scheduled to enter streamlined
compliance testing this month, Clarke said.
The DMS team plans to issue new releases about every six months, as military personnel
gain operational experience.
The Army, Raiford said, has set aside funding to roll out DMS if MAISRC gives it the
"As far as I'm concerned, the Army's position is in my budget," Raiford said.
"I'm funded to do DMS Army-wide by December 1999. We've got work plans in place for
But the Army has set aside money only for the sustaining base side, not to bring DMS
into the tactical arena.
"There is discussion on how we do the tactical side, but this is not an
Army-unique issue. It cuts across all services. The money has not been identified for
tactical," Raiford said.
He said he believes the Army eventually will use DMS on the battlefield, because
commanders who have DMS at their bases will want to know why the same messaging platform
is not available in the field.
Using Army funds and seed money from DISA, Raiford plans an October demo at Fort Hood,
Texas, to show DMS working across tactical systems.
"There's a real desire to fix this, so we will fix the tactical part. But the
system as designed can talk to Army messaging systems as they exist today because we are
all AUTODIN-compliant," Raiford said.
Unlike AUTODIN, which supports only organizational messaging, DMS will handle
organizational and end-user traffic. The implementation will be left up to each DOD
Raiford figures about 11 percent of Army
e-mail users initially will get DMS services, because that percentage of users now uses
AUTODIN for electronic messaging. The rest are individual users of assorted e-mail
Organizations such as the Army Pacific will be "DMS-compliant right off the
bat," because every e-mail user is fully funded to get DMS, Raiford said.
He told visitors who trooped through the Army's demo that DMS services will simply
appear as an icon on the screen for those using popular commercial e-mail clients such as
Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes.
"There are still some people who think DMS is a computer," he said.
"They think we're going to put a second computer on their desks."