Army CIO says the service needs more bandwidth

Army CIO says the service needs more bandwidth

By Bill Murray

GCN Staff

Lt. Gen. William Campbell has simple needs: bandwidth, bandwidth, bandwidth. Paying for those needs, he is finding, is not so simple.

The Army's director of information systems for command, control, communications and computers wants to improve the service's deployed communications infrastructure, he said in a recent speech at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association's Military Communications International Symposium 1999 conference in Atlantic City, N.J.

Specifically, Campbell wants to increase the 16-Kbps shared bandwidth available to the service on the battlefield. Deployed communications lag behind what's available to the garrisoned Army, which generally has 10/100-Mbps connectivity. When home users can buy digital subscriber line service for $64 a month, Campbell said, it irks him that Pentagon bureaucrats are arguing about increasing deployed connectivity.

Campbell urged the Army senior officers to take on the roadblocks and obstacles to increasing bandwidth.

'We have met the enemy, and the enemy is us,' said Campbell, who drew laughter from the audience when he derided higher-ups who seem to not understand the need for increased bandwidth.

The service does not have bandwidth for anything more than battlefield voice communications using radios, he said.

He expressed frustration at driving from Fort McNair in Washington to anywhere else in the city and seeing people digging ditches to hold cables for OC-3, OC-12, OC-48 and OC-92 networking for civilians, while the deployed Army can't get what it needs.

Anthony Valletta, a former acting assistant secretary of Defense for command, control, communications and intelligence, heard Campbell speak in Atlantic City. He said Campbell has to convince Army leaders that it's worthwhile to fund communication technology rather than missiles and tanks.

'Campbell's in a position to do that'the right doors are open before him,' said Valletta, now vice president and director of command, control, communications and intelligence at SRA International Inc. of Arlington, Va. Valletta is a former program executive officer for Standard Army Management Information Systems.

'Unfortunately, the Army has to compete with other services' for funding, so even if Campbell can get Army officials to sign on to his plan, his requests might not succeed up the chain of command or in Congress, he said.

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