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The Army's Bandwidth Bottleneck
  August 2003  


Cover Graphic



Notes

Unless otherwise indicated, all dollar amounts are fiscal year 2003 dollars.

The top photo is by Marni McEntee of the European Stars and Stripes (©2003 by Stars and Stripes). The bottom photo is courtesy of the U.S. Army.





                
Preface

Over the past decade, the U.S. Army's principal modernization initiative has been its digitization effort, designed to harness the power of the microchip to significantly improve the fighting capabilities of soldiers on the battlefield. But implementing that initiative presents significant challenges. Digitization requires the rapid transmission of large amounts of information over significant distances. Experiments conducted to date as well as recent operations in Iraq, where troops employed some of the results of the service's digitization efforts, have shown that that requirement is difficult to fulfill not only under battlefield conditions but also in more benign circumstances. Since 1999, the focus of the Army's modernization program has shifted to what it terms transformation--making its forces deployable more quickly while maintaining or improving their lethality and survivability. Although digitization is no longer the Army's primary modernization initiative, it remains a key element of transformation.

In the past several years, questions about the size of the information flow associated with digitization and the communications bandwidth to support it--that is, the capacity to move information at sufficient speeds--have spurred the Army to adopt several large radio and network communications programs. Ultimately to cost tens of billions of dollars, those programs are currently planned to provide initial operational capability by about 2010.

This Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study, which was prepared for the Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces of the House Committee on Armed Services, examines the issue of how much bandwidth will be required to achieve the goal of digitization (the bandwidth demand) versus how much bandwidth will be provided by the Army's planned communications programs (the bandwidth supply). CBO finds that significant shortfalls currently exist for the Army in the supply of bandwidth. Moreover, under the service's current plans, demand will continue to exceed supply beyond 2010--after the Army begins fielding its next generation of advanced radios and other communications equipment. The study examines several options that would improve the future match between bandwidth supply and demand. However, in keeping with CBO's mandate to provide impartial analysis, this report makes no recommendations.

Paul Rehmus of CBO's National Security Division wrote the study under the general supervision of J. Michael Gilmore. Army Cadet Kevin Linzey provided substantial assistance in the analysis of bandwidth for unmanned aerial vehicles. At CBO, Barbara Edwards, David Moore, and David Newman reviewed early drafts and provided helpful comments. Numerous U.S. Army officers also contributed useful comments on and data for drafts of the report as well as the underlying analysis. The author would like to cite in particular the support of Lt. Col. Charles Gabrielson, Col. Edward Cardon, and former Chief of Staff of the Army Erik Shinseki.

Leah Mazade edited the study, and John Skeen proofread it. Cindy Cleveland produced drafts of the manuscript and tables. Christian Spoor, assisted by Sharon Corbin-Jallow, prepared the study for publication, and Annette Kalicki produced the electronic versions for CBO's Web site.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin
Director
August 2003




CONTENTS


  Summary
   
Bandwidth Supply and Demand in Today's Army
      Background on the Army's Digitization Initiative
      Bandwidth Supply at Army Commands Today
      Bandwidth Demand at Army Commands Today
      Comparing Bandwidth Supply and Demand in 2003
      Operation Iraqi Freedom
   
Bandwidth Supply and Demand in 2010
      Bandwidth Supply at Army Commands in 2010
      Bandwidth Demand at Army Commands in 2010
      Comparing Bandwidth Supply and Demand in 2010
   
Mitigating Mismatches Between Bandwidth Supply and Demand
      Buy Better Radios in Greater Quantities
      Reallocate Currently Planned Spending
      Reduce Demand and Better Manage Persisting Mismatches
   
  Appendix A
The Army's Current Communications Initiatives

Appendix B
Extrapolating Continuous-Flow Information Across Command Levels

Appendix C
Compressing Data to Reduce Bandwidth Demand

Glossary of Abbreviations



Tables
   
S-1.  Effective Bandwidth Supply Versus Peak Demand in 2003, by Command Level
S-2.  Effective Bandwidth Supply Versus Peak Demand in 2010, by Command Level
1.  Maximum Engineering and Effective Bandwidth for Typical Army Communications Equipment in 2003
2.  Number and Types of Radios Available at the Ops Nodes in Digitized Units During Peak Operations in 2003, by Command Level
3.  Maximum Effective Bandwidth Available to Army Operations Networks in 2003, by Command Level
4.  Peak Demand for Continuous-Flow Bandwidth in the Digitized Division's Operations Net in 2003
5.  Peak Demand for Continuous-Flow Bandwidth in 2003, by Command Level
6.  File Sizes of Episodic Throughputs in Army Ops Channels in 2003, by Type of Throughput and Command Level
7.  Equivalent Peak Continuous-Flow Bandwidth for Episodic Throughputs in 2003, by Throughput Type and Command Level
8.  Total Peak Demand for Effective Bandwidth in 2003, by Command Level
9.  Effective Bandwidth Supply Versus Peak Demand in 2003, by Command Level
10.  Effective Bandwidth Available to Army Operations Networks in 2010, by Command Level
11.  Number of Operating UAV Systems, by Command Level
12.  Peak Effective Bandwidth Demand in 2010 Under Two Assumptions About TUAVs, by Command Level
13.  Effective Bandwidth Supply Versus Peak Demand in 2010, by Command Level
A-1.  Planned Investment in the Joint Tactical Radio System, by Organization and Cluster
A-2.  Effective Bandwidth Supply Versus Peak Demand in 2010, with a JTRS Substitute
B-1.  Peak Bandwidth Demand at the Digitized Division, Brigade, and Battalion Levels in 2003, by Mission
B-2.  Peak Bandwidth Demand for the Operations Nets at the Digitized Division, Brigade, and Battalion Levels in 2003, by Source of Demand
B-3.  Effective Bandwidth Supply Versus Peak Demand in 2003 Using a Factor-of-Two Extrapolation, by Command Level
B-4.  Effective Bandwidth Supply Versus Peak Demand in 2010 Using a Factor-of-Four Extrapolation, by Command Level
   
Figures
   
S-1.  The Army's Bandwidth Bottleneck
1.  Notional Throughput Capacity per Node
2.  Total Projected Investment in Ops Net Equipment, by Command Level
3.  Cost of the Capacity Provided per Ops Net, by Command Level
4.  Cost of the Capacity Utilized per Ops Net, by Command Level
   
Boxes
   
1.  Information Technology: Some Concepts and Definitions
2.  The Evolving Mix of Wired and Wireless Battlefield Communications
3.  Operational Versus Theoretical Bandwidth

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