Army’s first phase of unified network ’18-24′ months away

Staff Sgt. Jacob Rascon, right, and Sgt. David Hendrixson, both assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), analyze prototyped cyber field equipment during Cyber Quest 2019. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. TaMaya Eberhart, 55th Combat Camera)

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The army anticipates that it will take 18-24 months to launch its new Unified Network Plan, a framework for combining network support for everything from waging war to streamlining back-office business operations.

The timeline was spelled out in broad terms by Lt. Gen. John Morrison, the deputy chief of staff, G-6. He added one of the milestones within the timeline is finishing an implementation plan within the next two months which will provide more detail on anticipated progress. The strategy relies on building out common services, like a common data fabric and global transport layer, that will unify the Army’s disparate networks.

“Unified Network is not ‘a thing,’ it’s not a new program of record .. it’s a new operations framework,” Morrison said during a panel at the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition.

The concept is “completely nested” within the broader DOD framework of building Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2), a strategy to allow the military the use data from any point of the battlefield in operations.

Phase one of implementing the unified network approach includes building a security architecture based on zero-trust principles, expanding the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRnet) and using software-defined 5G networks to increase bandwidth.

As the Army builds out those systems, Morrison said it will take a testing-heavy approach that will aim to get new tech into the hands of operators to get their feedback.

“The mindset is we are going to build from the edge back,” he said.

One of the first points of contact the Army will push the new tech to is its Multi Domain Task Force (MDTF) at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, in Washington. The task force is building a new multi-domain operations center that is being designed to use a unified network as a means to ingest as much data as possible.

“Best way to build out this enterprise is get it into an operational environment,” Morrison said.

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Army, john Morrison, Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2), multi-domain operations
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