Military branches can now IM

The U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force now have secure enterprisewide instant messaging (IM) between the three branches, officials from the company providing the technology said today.

The Army Knowledge Online and Navy Knowledge Online portals and the Air Force's Knowledge Management Portal are using Inter-Domain Messaging (IDM) Gateway from Bantu to set up an interoperable framework for real-time collaboration, said Lawrence Schlang, Bantu's CEO.

More than 3.5 million users have the ability now to search for people across service branches and Internet domains, Schlang said. They can also text-message each other and have conferences.

'Bantu creates a virtual real-time information sharing network across the entire military, enabling faster and greater awareness and collaboration,' Lt. Col. Joe Besselman, program director for the Air Force's Global Combat Support Systems and the Air Force Portal, said in a statement.

IDM Gateway is policy-driven and enforces role-based access for users, Schlang said. The system automatically populates users' contact lists with appropriate people in their chain of command and Communities of Interest.

The system can carry communications over the military's sensitive and secret networks, Schlang said. The interoperable IM system will help improve information sharing and shorten the decision-making cycle, he said.

The federal government is learning from the private sector that instant messaging is a useful tool, Schlang said. IDM Gateway is net-centric and helps the different branches act jointly, he said.

Intelligence agencies are expected to start using IDM Gateway soon to enable communication between them and the military, Schlang said. The company is interested in setting up the system for the Homeland Security Department to participate as well.

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