Fate Uncertain for Army Battlefield Comms WIN-T Program

U.S. Army photo

The fate of the Army’s Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) program remains uncertain, as members of Congress debated its battlefield communications performance.

Senators were divided on “whether to accelerate or do away with the program,” reported C4ISR, as concern has spread about the slow pace of the WIN-T program.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley testified at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday that they are critically evaluating the program and the network as a whole, to make sure that it both functions properly now, and can handle future challenging operations.

The process is “a rigorous, thorough and painful review of the entire communication, electromagnetic capabilities of the U.S. Army, of which WIN-T is one part,” said Milley, who ordered the Army to review a new network strategy earlier this year.

A comprehensive report on the network as a whole should be completed and provided to Congress within four to six weeks, he said. This report will assist with funding capabilities.

One hundred and seventy eight House lawmakers concerned about the WIN-T program signed a letter to Milley last month asking that a new approach be taken that would speed procurement over the next five years for six brigade sets of WIN/T, reports C4ISR. Several senators also sent a similar letter.

“Frankly, my concern is these systems may or may or may not work in the conditions of combat that I envision in the future with this change of character of warfare,” said Milley. Those combat changes include the need for small units that are able to operate independently in a near-peer threat environment.

Although the first installment of WIN-T could only transmit voice, video and data when the unit was stationary, the second version is supposed to be able to network and function on-the-move.

Milley complained about the slowness of the government acquisition process “especially in information technologies.” WIN-T has been in development for 10 years.

The government’s acquisition process can’t keep up with the rapid evolution of technology particularly while competing with commercial products, Milley said, “so by the time we even come up with requirements, these systems are already out of date.”

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