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Broadening the Army's Bandwidth

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Research brief

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The Army is transforming itself from a heavy Cold War force to a much more agile one, which it has dubbed the future force. A crucial part of that transformation requires the Army to shift its communications from being segmented to being networked. The difference is that in the former it is easy to communicate up and down vertical communication stovepipes but not across them. In the latter, any node in the network can communicate with any other node. Networked communications require considerable bandwidth, which facilitates the capacity to send and receive information. The Army is concerned about whether it has enough bandwidth available and asked RAND Arroyo Center to determine the nature and extent of potential bandwidth problems for the future force. The specific concern is whether enough capacity exists to meet the operational requirements spelled out for the future force. The results of that research appear in the publication Future Army Bandwidth Needs and Capabilities. Bandwidth is a limited resource that needs to be managed. To effectively manage bandwidth, Arroyo researchers recommend that the Army do a number of things. First, bandwidth needs to be treated as an operational resource to be allocated by commanders and staffs much in the way that other resources such as close air support are allocated. Second, the Army should continue to pursue all technologies that could provide benefit, because no single technology will resolve the bandwidth problem. A single agency should synchronize technology development for efficiency and coordination. This includes not only communications systems but also systems-of-systems to reduce demands and create an overall information architecture. Third, the Army should develop and refine assessment tools better assessment tools are needed to make complex tradeoffs Last, the Army needs to make a partner of DoD to avoid unnecessary redirection and to take advantage of DoD-wide capabilities.

Subject Categories:

  • Administration and Management
  • Radiofrequency Wave Propagation

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