The trouble with JTRS

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.'One of the transformational programs being developed across the Defense Department has become an easy target for members of Congress to cut and ridicule, said John Grimes, Defense CIO.

Although there have been issues with the transformational satellite program running over budget, and DOD's Net-Centric Enterprise Services initiative is behind schedule, the Joint Tactical Radio System has "caused a lot of heartburn," Grimes told attendees yesterday at the Army LandWarNet Conference.

JTRS is a set of next-generation, software-programmable radios expected to replace more than two dozen legacy radios and be integrated on aircraft, vehicles, ships and fixed ground stations worldwide. The radios will be able to access maps and other visual data, communicate via voice and video with other units, and obtain information directly from battlefield sensors.

Grimes said he saw problems with the software-programmable radios as far back as 1996, when he told JTRS personnel that "some of you must be smoking pot if you think you can have 30-plus waveforms on the same platform."

"We're in a helluva lot of trouble right now," Grimes said. "This allows Congress to go after programs. This allows staffers to say, 'You don't have your act together.' "

Despite the bumps and hiccups, the JTRS program appears to be headed in the right direction.

On March 31, the program was restructured to create an enterprisewide framework comprising three domains: ground; airborne, maritime and fixed (AMF); and network enterprise, each reporting to the JTRS Joint Program Executive Office under Kenneth Krieg, Defense undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics.

Previously, JTRS was made up of clusters managed separately and disjointedly by the services. This led to concerns from lawmakers and the Government Accountability Office that the multibillion-dollar program would run over cost and behind schedule.

The objective of the centralized structure is to bring a networking capability to warfighters more quickly and cheaply.

JTRS will make up one of the communications layers of the Defense Department's Global Information Grid, a set of interconnected classified and unclassified programs and systems comprising communications satellites, next-generation radios, a bandwidth-expanded network, a group of net-centric core services and an information assurance layer.

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