Agency Profile: Army
Army Modernizes as It Digitizes<@VM>IT Infrastructure<@VM>Army's Top 20 IT Contractors
By Ed McKenna
The Army has received a lot of attention for its efforts to digitize its battle force, but the service also is looking to upgrade its base information technology infrastructure as well as its logistics, electronic commerce and security programs in the near future.
In short, Army IT managers face a very full slate of IT projects.
To fund these initiatives, the Army spent roughly $2 billion in fiscal 1999, the third largest IT budget in the federal government, according to market research firm Input of Vienna, Va. That figure is expected to reach $2.7 billion by fiscal 2004, a compounded annual growth rate of 5.8 percent.
Priorities begin with the 6-year-old "battlefield digitization" effort under the Army Battle Command System (ABCS) program. The program is designed to address challenges posed by overseas engagements, such as those in Bosnia and Kosovo, said Brig. Gen. Steven Boutelle, the program executive officer for Army Command, Control and Communications Systems at Fort Monmouth, N.J.
In those types of noncontiguous missions, forces "are spread all over the country in peacekeeping roles," straining their ability to maintain seamless communications, he said.
ABCS solves that problem by using network, computer and satellite technology to tie together more than 100 battlefield systems and produces a common tactical picture for all battlefield commanders regardless of echelon, said Carlaine Blizzard, vice president for defense information systems at Lockheed Martin Mission Systems, Gaithersburg, Md., a major contractor for the program.
"We are making tremendous progress and will begin seeing the fruits of that progress" over the next year, Boutelle said. The system will be exhibited in late August via the Joint Contingency Force in the Advanced Warfighting Experiment at Fort Drum, N.Y.
In April 2001, the 4th Infantry Division, dubbed the first digitized division, will demonstrate the system at Fort Irwin, Calif., in the first of two Division Capstone Exercises. The second will be held at Fort Hood, Texas, in the October-November time frame, Boutelle said.
Even as these milestones near, not all is smooth going for the program. Bandwidth is proving to be its Achilles' heel. Because program officials were tasked to use off-the-shelf products built for almost unlimited bandwidth, ABCS now finds it must operate with only 16 kilobits per second of bandwidth, Boutelle said.
In other words, an entire brigade has access to less bandwidth than an average notebook computer, he said.
To top things off, the future of the Warfighter Information Network-Terrestrial (WIN-T) program, which was expected to provide a fix for the shortfall in bandwidth, has become clouded.
The service released program requirements last year that sparked considerable contractor interest, with General Dynamics Corp. of Falls Church, Va., and TRW Inc. of Cleveland forging competing teams to bid for the program estimated at $5 billion over 15 years.
After receiving negative vendor feedback, however, the Army decided to postpone and rethink the program, said David Borland, the Army vice director for information systems for command, control, communications and computers. While the program is expected to proceed, implementation may now stretch out to as far as 2008, according to industry sources.
"It will be a little more evolutionary than we would like," said Boutelle, who added "it is a very expensive program." The service still plans to issue a request for proposals covering an initial part of the program in the third quarter of 2001, followed by contract awards to two contractors in the first or second quarter of 2002, he said.
Meanwhile, the service has engaged General Dynamics Communication Systems, Taunton, Mass., to upgrade the existing mobile subscriber system.
To date, "we have upgraded a division's worth of equipment for Fort Hood," said Larry Rhue, vice president of strategic planning at the General Dynamics unit. "Using [asynchronous transfer mode] technology and routers, we will breathe additional longevity into the existing communications system to give them greater throughput."
But that solution is, at most, a temporary fix, according to industry observers. The mobile subscriber system is a 20-year-old design that will furnish neither the bandwidth nor mobility required by the new, lighter military envisioned under ABCS, said Neil Siegel, vice president and general manager of TRW Tactical Systems.
In addition, having already crafted a systems architecture for its heavy divisions, the Army must now come up with an equally capable design to fit the special needs of the light, mobile divisions, Boutelle said.
"They need a true universal plug-and-play solution," he said. "A soldier on the battlefield should not be involved in the details of network management." The equipment must also be light enough for a soldier to carry on his back.
Blizzard said the sheer complexity of the project is a challenge for the systems integration vendors.
Boutelle said: "While Lockheed Martin, TRW and Raytheon are the big contractors, there are many, many dozens of smaller contractors [involved]."
ABCS actually is more of an entity than a program; there is no ABCS contract, said Blizzard. However, it incorporates more than 100 separate programs addressing battlefield functional areas, such as field artillery, intelligence, logistics air defense and maneuvers.
Critical programs include the Maneuver Control System (MCS), which Blizzard called "the heart of the ABCS." Begun in 1996 under a five-year, $86 million contract to Lockheed Martin, the system is still under development and is expected to be fully fielded by late next year, said Boutelle.
"MCS is the one system that is ubiquitous," Boutelle said. The others "gather data into a warfighter or battle captain, while MCS pulls it all together." That combined information, including weather, terrain features, supply routes and battlefield geometry, is then presented in a single display to the commander, according to Blizzard.
The most widely deployed elements of ABCS will be the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) applique systems, which are computers ruggedized for military application. Eventually, about 60,000 systems will be fielded at a cost of about $25,000 each, Boutelle said.
It is the only system that will go in every platform, from tanks to helicopters, said Siegel. The systems include computers, radios and position location devices, and will keep the commanders of those platforms aware of critical situational information, such as the location of friendly and enemy forces and obstacles, such as mine fields.
TRW was awarded the FBCB2 contract, valued at about $210 million over five years, in January.
To ensure interoperability, the systems are being built to Defense Information Infrastructure Common Operating Environment, or DII COE, version 4.1 standards, said Boutelle.
Helping to enforce these standards is the Common Hardware/Software-2 program, the main source of ABCS technology. Common Hardware/Software-2 can be seen as the hardware platform equivalent of DII COE, said Chris Marzilli, vice president and general manager of commercial hardware systems at General Dynamics Communications Systems.
ÊÊAccording to Marzilli, business has been picking up as the digitization program progresses. Though Common Hardware/
Software-2 is pegged at a value of $200 million over 10 years, "we are at about $440 million and have just entered the sixth year of ordering," he said.
The Army Global Command and Control System provides for interoperability with other service systems, Boutelle said. That system is managed by Lockheed Martin under a $166 million contract awarded in December 1994 and extended last year out to the end of June 2001.
Along with its battlefield effort, the service also is upgrading its base IT infrastructure under the Installation, Information Infrastructure Modernization Program (I3MP). The I3MP synchronizes initiatives to modernize Army installations' telecommunications and information infrastructure, including deploying new telecommunications cable and switching technologies, as well as local and wide area networks.
The goal is to provide a "good connectivity to every important place on an Army installation," Borland said.
The chief obstacle for this effort has not been technology, but disinterest.
There was "a time when we couldn't get folks to talk about the need to upgrade the Army's installations," said Borland. As a consequence, "the installations have not had significant [IT] upgrades for a long, long time."
But that attitude of indifference over I3MP has changed, he noted. And it has been backed up by the recent advancement of the infrastructure upgrade deadlines from 2015 to 2007, said Mary Freeman, manager of market research and analysis for Bell Atlantic Federal, a unit of Bell Atlantic Corp., New York.
Bell Atlantic is one of 18 vendors included on the Digital Switched Systems Modernization Program, an important source of services for the modernization effort. The work also is being done under other programs, including the Outside Cable Rehabilitation Program, the Major Army Command Telephone Modernization Program and the Common User Installation Transport Network.
Upgrades at eight installations have been completed, and another five are about to go online, leaving 78 more to go, Borland said. Those improvements are costing the Army roughly $25 million per installation.
To boost efficiency on the battlefield and bases, the Army has added intensity to its logistics modernization efforts through its award of the Wholesale Logistics Modernization Program contract to Computer Sciences Corp. in December 1999.
Under the outsourcing contract valued at $681 million over five years, San Diego-based CSC will develop, implement and manage a new just-in-time delivery system, said Austin Yerks, senior vice president of business development for CSC's defense group.
The company now is working closely with the service to transition almost all of the 300 Army civilian employees to the new CSC organization, determine the system architecture and select an enterprise resource program vendor, Yerks said. That process should be done by the end of the summer, he noted, with the new logistics system coming online in another 18 months to two years.
Yerks said the modernization deal is part of a broader logistics effort in which CSC's efforts will establish the baseline in determining the design of related programs.
The most immediate impact is on logistical support on the battlefield, which is managed by a Command Service Support Control System program, managed by TRW. "We are [already] building interfaces from our battlefield logistics system to these new sustaining base systems," said TRW's Siegel.
On another front, the service has begun promoting electronic commerce initiatives. In the last two years, the Army's Electronic Commerce Office has launched a central Army Web site and released a detailed implementation plan for Web initiatives.
Those efforts have been supported by Fairfax, Va.-based SRA International Inc., said Frank Varacalli, the company's Army EC project manager and manager of defense acquisition and technology programs. SRA has been working with the office since December 1997 under a General Services Administration task order valued at just over $2 million to date, he said.
SRA also helped the electronic commerce office launch its first e-business initiative, the Document Coordination System (DCS), Varacalli said. DCS, which can be found on the office's Web site, provides a secure, virtual environment where users can comment on official documents and review and respond to other users' comments in real time.
"The collaborative nature of the tool speeds reaching consensus on any document," said Linda Dean, director of the Army's electronic commerce office. "The Army used an earlier prototype of DCS to coordinate and finalize both [its] formal policy on electronic commerce and its [e-business and e-commerce] implementation plan with 40 Army organizations located around the world," she said.
Officially launched in mid-1998, the EC office now is offering DCS to other agencies and has garnered interest from the Energy Department, the Navy and other Army organizations, said Jim Schneider, defense business systems technology director at SRA.
Along with these substantive programs, there are many pilot e-commerce programs cropping up throughout the service. For example, the Army Communications-Electronics Command Acquisition Center, Fort Monmouth, N.J., began hosting in May reverse auctioning procurements on its "Army Single Face to Industry Interactive Business Opportunities" page on its Web site.
Under this process, the government posts a list of items it wants to buy, and vendors respond by posting their best prices. As the competition heats up, sellers are allowed to reduce their original prices to undercut other bidders.
The sessions usually will last about 30 minutes and include commercial and military items offered by multiple vendors and services, said Edward Elgart, director of the Monmouth acquisition center.
The acquisition center is using software from Frictionless Commerce Inc., Cambridge, Mass., to manage this process. It not only identifies the lowest price, but also analyzes other criteria, such as brand names, performance and warranties, Elgart said. The system encompasses the total acquisition process including contract awards, he said, though adding that the Army requires a paper contract with actual signatures.
The pilot will continue to July, when Elgart expects it to be a regular offering. Start-up costs have been about $50,000.
Finally, the Army is expected to hike its spending on information assurance measures, from $64 million in fiscal 1999 to $84 million this year, according to the research firm Input. While mum on specific initiatives, Borland said the Army was "looking at just about everything, including [public key infrastructure], biometrics, common access cards and smart cards."
Along with those security initiatives, the service is also using its Defense In-Depth strategy to monitor its networks, he said. Recognizing that no single solution can provide total protection, the strategy calls for the installation of layered defenses to protect, detect and respond to intrusions. It includes using tools and procedures to test continually the security readiness of the systems and devise protections for future threats.
Army's Top 20 IT Contractors
|Contractor||FY99* (in millions)|
1. GENERAL DYNAMICS CORP.
|2. COMPUTER SCIENCES CORP.||$172.8|
|3. BOEING CO.||$129.6|
|4. GTSI CORP.||$101.8|
|5. RAYTHEON CO.||$80.0|
|6. LOCKHEED MARTIN CORP.||$58.9|
|7. DELL COMPUTER CORP.||$51.0|
|8. LITTON INDUSTRIES INC.||$50.2|
|9. UNISYS CORP.||$45.1|
|10. NORTHROP GRUMMAN CORP.||$42.1|
|11. SCIENCE APPLICATIONS INTL CORP.||$41.1|
|12. SOZA & COMPANY LTD.||$40.3|
|13. BOOZ-ALLEN & HAMILTON INC.||$37.4|
|14. TAMSCO INC.||$34.1|
|15. NCCIM LLC||$33.7|
|16. TELOS CORP.||$33.1|
|17. LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES INC.||$28.8|
|18. RAYCEONTI SYSTEMS CO.||$26.8|
|19. ORACLE CORP.||$26.5|
|20. ELECTRONIC DATA SYSTEMS CORP.||$26.4|
Source: Federal Sources Inc.,
Eagle Eye Publishing
*Based on selected Product Service Codes