Defense authorization bill clears Hill hurdles

Congress this month sent President Bush a fiscal 2004 Defense authorization bill that sets instructions for several major military technology projects and emphasizes transforming the military.

Although Bush in September signed a Defense Department appropriations bill for 2004, the 1,200-page authorization bill includes lawmakers' recommendations for $401.3 billion in DOD funding.

For some IT efforts, the bill makes specific demands on DOD:
  • Joint Tactical Radio System: DOD must establish a plan for the development of JTRS under a single program office and submit plans to Congress by Jan. 1. The plans must be implemented no later than Oct. 1.

  • Future Combat Systems: Congress limited spending to $170 million for developing networked weapons and vehicles until lawmakers receive an independent review of FCS and a milestone review by the Defense Acquisition Board.

  • Network-centric communications: DOD must develop a high-speed, high-bandwidth comm system for military operations. The department must identify areas for advanced wireless communications, develop a plan for improved spectrum use, and implement robust security and encryption.

  • Blue Force Tracking: DOD and the Joint Forces Command must report on joint experiments to evaluate technologies to identify friendly and enemy troops on the battlefield.

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