House and Senate appropriators questioned the acquisition strategy of an Army program that aims to make hardware lighter, more agile and with more computing power in a new spending bill released Dec. 16.
Congress budgeted $67 million for the program, known as Tactical Server Infrastructure, which is about $10 million less than the Pentagon had requested.
The program plays a key role in one of the service’s most desired systems, the Command Post Computing Environment (CP CE), a web-enabled system that will consolidate current mission systems and programs into a single user interface to help Army leaders react faster than the enemy.
In budget documents in February, the Army requested $77.5 million for the program. But Congressional appropriators budgeted $67.5 million, according to documents released by Congress Dec. 16. The documents only cite the “acquisition strategy" as the reason for the lower amount but do not elaborate. Senate leaders had originally proposed cutting $46 million for the program earlier this fall.
The $77 million was expected to go toward buying 205 large servers and 550 small servers that will host the CPCE core infrastructure software and applications.
Army leaders have said Command Post Computing Environment is one of the service’s most critical programs and that commanders throughout the world want the system because it provides a level of unprecedented situational awareness and mission command.
“As we’re trying to roll out a better decision making suite of tools, you got to have high capacity server infrastructure to be able to support that. [The funding cut] has an impact on our operational planners that are screaming for this capability,” Maj. Gen. Pete Gallagher, director of the network cross functional team told reporters in October. “It also impacts our ability to do defensive cyber operations on the network, which means it has an impact on network resiliency as well, or cyber resiliency.”
Maj. Gen. David Bassett, program executive officer for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, told reporters in October that a deeper cut would leaves units with 10-year-old servers, many of which would struggle with software upgrades. In the future, he added, the Army will do a better job communicating hardware and software strategies to committees.
Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.