Chairman Mike Turner (OH-10) of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces made the following remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the Subcommittee's hearing on the Army’s tactical network modernization strategy. For testimony and to watch the hearing click here.
"The Subcommittee meets today to review the Army’s Tactical Network modernization strategy.
I’d like to welcome our witnesses representing the Army:
- Lieutenant General Bruce T. Crawford, Army Deputy Chief of Staff and Chief Information Officer
- Major General James J. Mingus, Director, Mission Command Center of Excellence, United States Army Combined Arms Center
- Mr. Gary Martin , Program Executive Officer for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical
We thank you all for your service and look forward to hearing your testimony today.
We’re holding this hearing because the Army is proposing a major shift in its tactical network modernization strategy.
To begin funding this strategy the Army has indicated they would need to realign funds for fiscal year 2018, over $544.0 million, which would be a major change from their fiscal year 2018 budget request as well as the House passed National Defense Authorization Act.
From an oversight perspective, we’ve been down this road before with the tactical network.
Since 2008 the Army has restructured its network strategy several times.
I recall in 2014 when the Army began a new modernization effort for the tactical network to improve communications called the Simplified Tactical Army Network or Star Net, and identified the network as its number one modernization priority.
Over $6.0 billion has been spent on the Warfighter Information Tactical-Network (WIN-T), as well as many billions more on tactical radios and mission command network systems to simplify and improve the network.
For at least five years, the Army has come before this committee and defended the need and resources for your current network strategy and Congress has supported those requests.
Just 5 months ago, you requested over $400 million in Fiscal Year 2018 for the WIN-T program, and indicated that WIN-T Increment 2 was the foundation of your network modernization strategy and mobile mission command.
Now you are asking us to realign almost half a billion dollars from existing programs with only limited details as to what your long term plan is for the network.
Given the Army’s previous track record with the network, I am skeptical on whether this proposed new strategy will work as intended. And will we back here 3 years from now discussing another new approach.
I understand the change in strategy appears to be driven by two reviews, one internal by the Army and one by the Institute of Defense Analyses.
And, that these reviews identified significant operational shortfalls in existing tactical network modernization programs and requirements given current and emerging threats.
However, before we agree to anything we need to better understand what the long term plan is for the tactical network.
I think we can all agree that our first priority remains the warfighter.
If we are going to send soldiers into harms way, their communication devices should never say 'service not available.'
Clearly we want to be sure that we are fielding capability that works and equipment that the soldiers will use.
So in closing, I want to reiterate two basic questions for which is the primary purpose of this hearing, help us understand why what you are proposing is the right strategy this time and why it is necessary to realign fiscal year 2018 funds after 3 of the 4 defense committees have already been on and off the floor as opposed to waiting for the fiscal year 2019 budget process."