General says the Army's weakest links on battlefield are bandwidth and training

General says the Army's weakest links on battlefield are bandwidth and training

By Bill Murray

GCN Staff

Megabits'not megahertz'are holding back Army battlefield command and control systems, but the service is proposing a program that would target that weakness, a communications officer said recently.

Another challenge is to make systems use easier among the services, Brig. Gen. Steven W. Boutelle said. To do that, the Army will put greater effort into implementing effective training programs and integrating the Army Battle Command System (ABCS) Version 4.3 for tactical messaging with the Defense Information Infratructure's Common Operating environment (DII COE), he said.

Power is fine

'The issue today is not the processing power of computers' or hardware shortcomings, said Boutelle, the program executive officer for Army command, control and communications systems at Fort Monmouth, N.J. What limits battlefield systems' potential, he said, is insufficient communications bandwidth.

The Army has 16-Kbps bandwidth for battlefield deployments, Boutelle said. 'Today's Army brigade in the field running legacy systems has less bandwidth than a notebook at home,' he said.

Warfighter Information Network-Terrestrial (WIN-T), a Program Executive Office C3S program, can help solve bandwidth deficiencies, Boutelle said.

Army Training and Doctrine Command officials have sent a WIN-T operational requirements document to Army headquarters, he said. From there it goes to the Joint Requirements Oversight Council for approval.

The benefits of purchasing and developing powerful systems are diminished if people aren't trained to use them effectively, Boutelle said.

Training for programs such as the Global Command and Control System-Army and Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) are a good investment, as is the Total Army Distance Learning Program, Boutelle said.

TRW Inc. in June will deliver a new version of FBCB2, which is used to track enemy and allied troop movements, Boutelle said.

Ensuring that ABCS 4.3 complies with the Defense Information Systems Agency's DII COE Version 4.1 and using it for joint task force messaging are difficult tasks, Boutelle said.

'We have used some resources to get DII COE compliance,' he said. The messaging software is based on the Defense Message System version of a Lotus Development Corp. client running under SunSoft Solaris.

Fourth Infantry Division officials will use ABCS for Force XXI nonoperational tests at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., in April of next year and at Fort Hood, Texas, in October 2001. Those tests lead up to the FBCB2 operational test and evaluation in November 2001.

ABCS eventually will improve joint interoperability and reduce operating and maintenance costs, Boutelle said. Version 6.x will automatically replicate data for operations centers users, using the Office of the Secretary of Defense's Command and Control Core Data Model, and ABCS 6.X will be interoperable with joint forces' systems and with the intelligence community's Modernized Intelligence Database, he said.

Boutelle said he plans to award the $20 million Joint Network Management System contract to support all Defense Department commanders in chief at division level and above by January.

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