Army Spent $800 Million on Network Tests

Army Spent $800 Million on Network Tests

The U.S. Army has spent almost $800 million on battlefield network tests that government auditors say are being underused, according to a new report.

The service since 2011 has held five so-called Network Integration Evaluations at a total projected cost of $791 million, according to an August report from the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress. The events, held twice a year at Fort Bliss, Texas, and White Sands Missile Range, N.M., test everything from radios and smart phones to antennae and other communications gear.

“The Army is not taking full advantage of the potential knowledge that could be gained from the NIEs, and some resulting Army decisions are at odds with knowledge accumulated,” the document states.


The report comes as lawmakers on Capitol Hill push to cut the service’s network testing budget in half. The Senate Appropriations Committee wants to cut $93.7 million of what it calls “excessive costs” from the program’s $193.7 million budget for fiscal 2014, which begins Oct. 1.

The Army plans to buy radios and satellite equipment that have performed poorly or weren’t reliable in evaluations, including the Joint Tactical Radio System’s so-called Rifleman and Manpack radios, as well as the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, or WIN-T, according to the GAO.

The acquisition programs, which are being developed by General Dynamics Corp., “have demonstrated continued poor performance and/or reliability in both developmental tests before NIEs and operational tests during the NIEs,” the report states. Buying hardware before testing is complete goes against best practices and “increases the risk of poor performance in the field and the need to correct and modify deployed equipment,” it states.

A spokesman for the Falls Church, Va.-based contractor didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail request for comment.

The Army has called upgrading its battlefield network its “foremost investment priority.”

Soldiers with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, this year deployed to Afghanistan with the service’s next-generation communications system that includes smart phone-compatible Rifleman Radios developed under the Joint Tactical Radio System and Nett Warrior programs.

The Army plans to spend as much as $750 million on the Rifleman Radios, single-channel radios held or worn by soldiers; and as much as $700 million on the Manpack radios, two-channel devices usually worn in a soldier’s rucksack.

The service wants to begin a competition this fall for the handheld Rifleman Radios and award a single company a production contract in 2014.

The second phase of WIN-T, known as Increment 2, is a high-speed, high-capacity communications network for the war zone. It uses radios, satellites and antennae on blast-resistant trucks to provide troops with mobile voice and data communications.

The program in a test last year was found “not suitable due to poor reliability and maintainability and not survivable,” according to a January report from J. Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s top weapons tester.

The Army says it “has aggressively pursued and implemented corrective actions to address the areas identified for improvement during the previous test,” according to an overview of the most recent network evaluation conducted in May.

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PEO C3T, CECOM and their Contractors have achieved yet another level of waste for their rice bowl. Years ago I was in a meeting on Test Readiness Levels when the DA ASA(ALT) Chief Scientist asked a simple question that no one could answer. His question was “What is the Army Getting” for the $1 million a day we send to CECOM.

Based on MG Price’s prior experience in DISC4 and G3 (FDC) it would be interesting to get her take on this $800 million expenditure.

This time ‚hopefully the army can beat the Taliban rival

The armys going to field JTRS no matter what. Fix it later. No ones testing the COTS stuff the armys buying so no one really knows how well it works or if it is compatible with other equipment.

JTRS has been around for what, 30 years? Lesson that should be learned are: (1) Don’t pay profit to any contractor for ANY development contract until the equipment passes the operational evaluation. (2) No concurrency, that is, separate the production contract from the development contract. Don’t let contractor “get well” from overpriced production contract. Once opeval passed, go to competitive award.

On the military side, we have an overpriced, ineffective communication system that is designed for full out war with the collapsed Soviet Union. And we’re fighting an insurgent armed with homemade rifles who, when they need to, use ordinary cell phones. Over 1.2 million men and women in the US military fighting maybe 10,000 insurgents. Guess who’s winning!

We should be hacking into the cell systems of our adversaries and track them by their own GPS signals like Hezbola did the israelis when they invaded lebonnon a few years back.

Considering the connections between Indian and Pakistan and thus Afghanistan, the three countries should fall under the same combatant command.

We probably did. Probably why OBL collapsed back onto using couriers instead of cell phones.

Possibly but not to any real extent. In the meantime our soldiers carry cells everywhere. Many units don’t practice good coms security further exposing them to compromise.

Aren’t they all CENTCOM?

Edit:
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We are to a point where their are more people filling useless slots on command staffs than actually fighting the war. There are more General Grade Officers in the Active Army than we had at the height of WW2 and we had almost 7.5 million active servicemen! These MACOMs are out of control. Seems like every day new billets are created to expand the ranks of the 0–6’s and above. Instead of getting rid of BCT’s lets get rid of some MACOMs and Generals. Put the personnel slots back in the line units,

To me, the issue is Marshall and his desire to build up a cadre of relevantly-trained officer corps for the next war. As a consequence, they were kept on even when enlisted numbers dropped.

Looking at the mobilization pains of WW2, I suspect the rigamole of finding well-trained officers is something they are very worried about. However, with the IRR, adequate turnover and enough “police actions” the world over to practice the art of war on unsuspecting local savages, I suspect Marshall’s fears would be absolutely unfounded.

Blight,
Its harder to train a leader than a follower. After WW1 Germany was forbidden to maintain a standing army of any size so they kept a very small cadre of experienced senior officers and NCO and brought only officers on active duty for military education and training. It takes awhile to educate and develop a leader and only a few months to train an infantryman/tanker/artilleryman etc. Germany maintained its close relationship with Russia after WW1 and the Revolution. The Soviets sent their best officers to Germany to attend the War College (it was considered the best in the world) and the Germans sent their young officers to Russia to learn how to command Combined Arms operations and Infantry, Tank, and Artillery PLT/CO/BN sized units using equipment forbidden to them after WW1. Once training was complete they returned to Germany and was discharged from active service and sent to the reserves. With a fully trained officers ready all they had to do is fill in the units around them.. As a side note Stalin executed his first major mistake of the war (besides trusting Hitler) when after the Nazi’s attacked he had every Officer trained in Germany executed because he was afraid they would betray him. He killed the very officers that had the training and knowledge of how the germans would fight that might have been able to stop the German Forces from entering Soviet Territories and killing millions of its citizens.

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