By J.D. Leipold
WASHINGTON — The Army’s chief information officer/G-6 announced the implementation of the Army’s Network Campaign Plan, which will guide the service through near-term and mid-term development, from 2015 through 2021 and beyond.
Lt. Gen. Robert Ferrell told some 800 attendees at the 14th Annual Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association Northern Virginia Army IT Day, Feb. 4, that the plan supports the Army plan and is aligned with the Army Operating Concept and is the “over-arching document that lays out our network modernization strategy to move the Army forward.”
Ferrell said he wanted his vision of the network to be clear, simple and easily understood by everyone from those within the Pentagon to the Soldiers in the field.
“It must be secure, integrated, standards-based with uninterrupted global access, enabling collaboration, enabling decisive action and doing it throughout all phases of operations across all environments,” he said.
“It outlines the critical, strategic environment that we’re in,” Ferrell said. “You all know that after coming out of two wars, as we downsize and look at fiscal constraints, we talk about the geo-political atmosphere. … All of that is laid out on how we will set the conditions as we move forward with the Army network.”
Ferrell said the plan’s five-fold lines of effort are aimed at desired end states, which will result in an integrated network in a common operating environment while keeping the network protected and interoperable to result in “agile, expeditionary command posts and enhanced home station training and readiness.”
Addressing cyber awareness and capability, Ferrell said the Army had come a long way in the last year and had created 41 cyber protection teams of which 21 are active duty, 11 in the National Guard and nine in the Army Reserve. He added that he expected to reach full operating capacity by the April-May time frame.
“The Army also approved a new cyber career field, and it’s in the warfighter domain so the numeric number for that is in the 17 series,” said Ferrell, adding that two units were targeted as pilot programs — the 780th Military Intelligence brigade at Fort Meade, Maryland, and the 7th Cyber Mission Unit at Fort Gordon, Georgia. The 7th Cyber Mission Unit has since stood up and been renamed the 7th Cyber Protection Brigade.
“We’ve done the assessment and [Human Resources Command] has recently gone through an accession board and identified the first increment of officers and enlisted to cover down on those requirements within the cyber space of operations,” said Ferrell, adding that the cyber force would be a combination of about 3,000 Soldiers and civilians.
Ferrell also spoke about the presidential initiative passed through the Department of Defense to each of the services to close data centers of which the Army had more than 1,000. He said the Army had such momentum during the past year and that it was able to consolidate and close up to about 55 percent of that target, which also means reviewing which applications stay or go.
“So, we are going through a rationalization effort with our applications,” he said. “We started a huge pilot within one of our large data centers at Redstone, Alabama. That data center has well over 11,000 applications, so we’re reviewing which applications are we going to migrate to the cloud, which applications we’ll kill and which that are not enterprise wise, but unique locally that we’ll keep at that location.”
Ferrell said the next major hurdle after closing the data centers and application migration to the cloud would be moving the Army to voice-over-Internet protocol, or IP, and unifying capability.