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Challenges to Network Modernization at DoD

This blog post is an excerpt from our recent report with Cisco, Network Modernization at DoD: Breaking Down What You Need to Know. Download the full report for free here.

The military, like any other organization, is always evolving. This means, however, that the network that was developed for previous warfare environments and that worked decades ago doesn’t meet current needs, let alone future warfighting needs.

Data storage, transport challenges, siloed departments and the absence of joint interoperability have all presented serious challenges to modernizing DoD’s network. The military has turned to industry vendors to fill the gap and help them step up to the plate, but standard acquisition processes haven’t kept up with a commercial innovation explosion, leaving the military at a disadvantage to adversaries.

Additionally, a recent Army study documented significant challenges to its network and network modernization across four broad areas: network governance, requirements, acquisition and innovation. In response to the study, the Army said, “Today, our Army is not institutionally organized to deliver modern, critical capabilities to Soldiers and combat formations quickly. Our current modernization system is an Industrial Age model. It was sufficient for past threats, but insufficient to ensure future overmatch and rapid procurement of our modernization priorities. Our processes are staff-centric and often stovepiped, which inhibits integration within or across programs. Our requirements process is slow and overly bureaucratic. Our talent management process needs to adapt to ensure the right people develop the right capabilities for future battlefield success.”

Additionally, the Air Force has focused on network modernization as the next step in their success. “Looking at our adversaries, we are going to have to fight in a multi-domain way,” Brig. Gen. Kevin Kennedy said at a Washington D.C. Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association event. “The cyber domain is the key to integrating across all the other domains.”

Many of the joint forces have evolved as multiple stovepiped mission command systems and networks with various, duplicative and non-integrated IT programs. This has yielded inadequate integration across the mission areas, and poorly conceived network architectures, resulting in inefficiency and ineffective integration of readiness priorities.

These challenges to network modernization are significant, but DoD acknowledges them and is looking for ways forward. So what’s next?



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