Pentagon Envisioning A Costly Internet For War
The Global Information Grid (GIG) is conceived by the Pentagon as a separate, secure Internet that blends military and intelligence activities so that soldiers anywhere in the world can instantly receive information about foreign and unfriendly troop movements. Supporters say the GIG is key to effecting the U.S. Armed Forces’ transition to net-centric warfare, a transition that is needed in order to combat increasingly faceless, decentralized enemies.
Billions have already been poured into the GIG’s development, and Pentagon documents suggest that the network’s software and hardware costs over the next 10 years or so could top $200 billion. Supplying the GIG’s connections is expected to cost at least $24 billion over the next five years; data encryption is estimated to cost $5 billion; the radios needed for the net will probably cost $25 billion; and tens of billions more will be spent on the required satellite systems.
The Pentagon told Congress five years ago that the GIG project will likely take 25 years or more to be realized. The biggest obstacle the GIG initiative could face is cultural, as all four military services have long-standing traditions of building their own technology and jealously guarding it from each other, which would be rendered obsolete by the unified force the war net seeks to facilitate.
The project will also need to address a major technical challenge–providing adequate bandwidth, which must exceed the amount of bandwidth employed at the height of the Iraq campaign last year by a factor of 40 or 50, according to estimates from the Rand Corporation. However, the Congressional Research Service notes that only one-tenth of the necessary bandwidth may be available to the Army, citing a “lessons learned” report from Iraq concluding that “there will probably never be enough resources to establish a complete and functioning network of communications, sensors, and systems everywhere in the world.”
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the New York Times (11/13/04) P. A1; Weiner, Tim .