The secretary of the Air Force now oversees unified networks that U.S. forces and international partners will use to communicate on and share data on the battlefield.

A memorandum signed by the Office of the Secretary of Defense this week designated the secretary of the Air Force as the executive agent for the Mission Partner Environment, a network that coalition partners rely on. That means the service will guide how the network’s acquisition efforts going forward.

The Mission Partner Environment provides about 45,000 users with services such as chat, email with attachments, web, file-share, command and control (C2), weather, logistics, and planning, according to a Department of Defense fact sheet. Several Defense organizations, including the Defense Information Systems Agency and the DoD’s chief information officer, have had a hand in overseeing and shaping the network.

Speaking at the West 2019 conference, Maj. Gen. Peter Gallagher, the director of the Army’s network cross functional team, said in the past tactical formations had to bring stacks of kit for each environment they planned to operating in. As a result, a few years ago, five combatant commands demanded the establishment of an enduring mission partner environment.

The new decision comes as the Army is undergoing a significant modernization of the battlefield network. Under the new framework, while the Air Force will set the conditions for the enduring capability, but Gallagher said it is up to Army to drive the tactical concepts for operation.

“We, the Army, have to relay out there what are our demands, what do we need enduring mission partner environment to be and what we really want is common standards so we don’t have a roll your own solution for every theater we find ourselves in,” he said.

Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.