Army logisticians to order by VSAT

Army logisticians to order by VSAT

Commercial very-small-aperture satellite terminals (VSAT) have revolutionized retail sales by allowing for the near-instantaneous collection of point-of-sale information. Now the Army's Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems is equipping military logisticians with the same technology to order supplies on the battlefield.

'The Army has much greater bandwidth requirements' than retail points of sale, said Bruce Bednarski, senior vice president of iDirect Technologies Inc. of Herndon, Va. Over the next 18 months, the company will supply about 1,000 NetModem II Plus broadband VSAT terminals for the Army's Connect the Logistician program.

The logisticians need more bandwidth than retail clerks because their requisitions involve transmitting database screens back and forth instead of simple monetary transactions, he said. VSAT technology will let them avoid dangerous courier trips to deliver disks of supply orders and other messages.

The Army's Defensewide Transmission Systems office this month chose Segovia Inc., also of Herndon, to build a global IP network known as the Combat Service Support Satellite Communications network. CSS-Satcom will be similar to Segovia's commercial VSAT-IP network.

Multiple logisticians with notebook PCs can simultaneously access central databases through their terminals to order 'toothbrushes or ammo,' Bednarski said. The Army placed more than 2,500 electronic orders during the first four days of VSAT use, he said. Logisticians can also talk or teleconference on voice over IP telephones via CSS-Satcom.

The iDirect remote VSAT consists of a compact satellite modem and IP router with built-in Federal Information Processing Standard 140-2 encryption and quality-of-service prioritization for voice traffic.

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