Defense Program Issue: Global Information Grid, Bandwidth Expansion (GIG-BE)
CRS Report for Congress
Defense Program Issue: Global Information
Grid, Bandwidth Expansion (GIG-BE)
Specialist in Technology and National Security
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
The Global Information Grid (GIG) is the enabling infrastructure for Network
Centric Warfare (NCW), a concept that relies on communications technology to link
together U.S. military personnel, ground vehicles, aircraft, and naval vessels through
integrated wide and local area networks to provide improved battle space awareness for
joint military forces.1 The GIG Bandwidth Expansion program (GIG-BE) is a
component of the overall GIG which upgrades the transmission pathways composing the
central portion of the GIG. The GIG-BE program achieved full operational capability
as of December 20, 2005, however, some question whether the GIG-BE design will
support military requirements for transmitting the expected future high volume of
encrypted network traffic. Also, because each service is developing a separate network
architecture that will tie into the GIG, some observers question whether these
differences will limit interoperability of the overall GIG, and thus reduce its usefulness
to warfighters. This report will be updated as events warrant.
Global Information Grid. The DOD Global Information Grid (GIG) provides a
secure networking capability for managing information on demand for warfighters, policy
makers, and support personnel. The GIG is a single network that enables communications
and sharing of sensor information among personnel at multiple levels of security in all
services, in the intelligence community, and with U.S. coalition partners. The
functionality of many sophisticated weapons systems may be critically dependent on the
capabilities and reliability of the GIG.
Status of the GIG-Bandwidth Expansion Program (GIG-BE). The GIG
network design includes linkages through radio, satellite, and land lines. The GIG-BE
program enhances the high-speed land lines which form a central core of the GIG by using
optical network technology.
1 For more information about Network Centric Warfare, see CRS Report RS20557, Navy
Network-Centric Warfare Concept: Key Programs and Issues for Congress, by Ronald O'Rourke.
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) announced that the GIG-BE
program has completed operational testing and achieved full operational capability as of
December 20, 2005. The GIG-BE is now accredited to support high-bandwidth,
synchronous optical network transmission of classified data traffic at 10 gigabits-per-
second between 86 “central point” defense sites, and may eventually extend to link 100
top defense and intelligence sites.2 The list of “central point” sites is classified, but
includes locations both inside and outside the United States.
Future Plans for the GIG-BE. Network transmissions for the Defense
Information Systems Network (DISN) that now operate over leased lines will soon be
integrated into the new GIG-BE transmission pathways which are owned by DOD.3 The
GIG-BE will eventually be linked with the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) and the
Transformational Communications Architecture to form a high-speed, high-capacity
network. The Army is upgrading its LandWarNet networks to tie into the GIG-BE
through its Installation Information Infrastructure Modernization Program (I3MP), the Air
Force will tie all its bases into the GIG-BE through the Air Force Combat Information
Transport System, and the Navy will connect with the GIG-BE through its FORCEnet4
Network Architectures. The “architecture” of the GIG network includes the
functional design to support business, logistics, intelligence sharing, and military
operations (the enterprise architecture), plus the technical design for transmission of data
within each network (the technical architecture). Each military service is currently
creating its own network architecture to support warfighters, and tie into the GIG. The
key architectures are (a) the Air Force C2 Constellation, (b) Navy and Marine Corps
ForceNet, and (c) Army LandWarNet. However, many observers are concerned that
interoperability problems between the different architectures used by each military service
may limit the usefulness of the GIG, leaving warfighters unable to tap into all network
2 Jason Miller, “DOD’s GIG-BE reaches full operational capability”, Government Computer
News, December 20, 2005, [http://www.gcn.com/vol1_no1/daily-updates/37848-1.html].
Dawn Onley, “GIG-BE Program director Montemarano gets new assignment”, Government
Computer News, November 11, 2005, [http://www.gcn.com/vol1_no1/daily-updates/37547-1.html].
Dawn Onley, “Military services open the door to GIG-BE”, Government Computer News, November
11, 2004, [http://appserv.gcn.com/cgi-bin/udt/im.display.printable?client.id=gcn2&story.id=27963].
5 Implementation of the Interoperability and Information Assurance Policies for Acquisition of
Navy Systems, DOD Inspector General, Report No. D-2005-003, Feb. 2, 2005; Government
Accountability Office, Defense Acquisitions: The Global Information Grid and Challenges
Facing Its Implementation, GAO-04-858; and Lisa Troshinsky, “ DOD Has No Clear Strategy
for GIG, GAO Says,” Aerospace Daily & Defense Report, Aug. 2, 2004, p. 5.
Air Force C2 Constellation. The C2 Constellation program, consists of several
technical and enterprise architectures, some of which are designed to relay information
directly between machines using common information standards. The “constellation”
platforms include ground stations, unmanned aerial vehicles, space-based sensors, and
possibly new multi-sensor command and control aircraft. Within the C2 Constellation
program, the Combat Information Transport System is designed to deliver operational6
information to warfighters. The C2 Constellation will also support the business process
for acquiring future C4ISR capabilities.7 The architecture is coordinated by a group of Air
Force Domain Councils that in turn are governed by the Enterprise Architecture
Navy and Marine Corps ForceNet. ForceNet is a concept for a communications
network that combines all networks and business processes for Navy and Marine Corps
systems so that information can be gathered and analyzed in a collaborative, at-sea-
environment. For example, naval strike group commanders can use computer network
“chat rooms” to coordinate among their warfare commanders and ships, as well as reach
back to the continental United States for help in diagnosing problems.9 ForceNet
maintains a continual state of evolution based on changes in technology and changes in
the battle space, and is not intended to have an “end” state. As such, ForceNet is not a
program or a system, but rather a way of integrating a wide array of technological
resources into a distributed, networked combat force available in real time to all
personnel.10 It is an architecture comprised of networked systems, processing and
computing, and interfaces that are secure and transparent to users.11 A more detailed
discussion of the architecture for ForceNet can be found in CRS Report RS20557, Navy
Network-Centric Warfare Concept: Key Programs and Issues for Congress, by Ronald
Army LandWarNet. The Installation Information Infrastructure Modernization
Program (I3MP) is the installation portion of the Warfighter Information Network-12
Tactical (WIN-T) that supports training, mobilization, and logistics. The Warfighter
Information Network-Tactical, Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS), Transformational
6 Doug Beizer, The Air Force Patrols the Network, Government Computer News, August 15,
7 Hanscom Air Force Base, “Constellation” Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts, press release,
Feb. 20, 2003 at [http://esc.hanscom.af.mil].
8 Dawn S. Onley, “Air Force Working to Connect Sensors,” Government Computer News, May
9 Admiral Walter F. Doran, “ForceNet Deployer,” Military Information Technology, Nov. 29,
10 Rear Admiral Thomas E. Zelibor, Statement to the House Committee on Armed Services,
Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities, Feb. 11, 2004 and J.D.
Walter, “ForceNet: Delivers Future Capabilities Now,” Flagship, Dec. 11, 2003,
[ h t t p : / / www.f l a gs h i pne ws .c om/ ] .
11 U. S. Naval Office of Information at [http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/policy/vision/
vi s02/vpp02-ch3v.html ].
Army Directorate of Information Management, [http://www.doim.army.mil/I3MP_Program.html].
Communications Architecture, and Network Centric Enterprise Services are integral parts
of LandWarNet and will be linked to the GIG. LandWarNet is the Army counterpart to
the Air Force C2 Constellation and the enterprise network of the Navy’s ForceNet, and
includes the following systems: (1) National Guard’s GuardNET; (2) the Army Reserve’s
ARNET; (3) Echelons-Above-Corps connectivity to the GIG supporting Combatant
Commanders, Land Component Commanders, and Joint Force Commanders; and (4)
Echelons-Corps-and-Below connectivity to the GIG supporting soldiers, units of
action/brigade, and Division and Corps elements located in the deployed theater.13
Bandwidth Needs. According to John Stenbit, former Assistant Secretary of
Defense for Networks and Information Integration (ASD/NII), the primary problem that
must be overcome to make information for Network Centric Warfare (NCW) easily14
accessible through the GIG is meeting the demand for bandwidth. Encryption
requirements for high security for the GIG will add considerable management overhead
signaling to all network traffic and will significantly reduce the amount of bandwidth that
is actually available for conveying a message. By the year 2010, the Congressional
Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the supply of effective bandwidth required by the
Army will fall short of peak demand by a ratio of approximately 1 to 10.15 Also, DISA
reportedly has projected that requirements for transmission of all encrypted U.S. military
information will grow by about 50 percent per year in the future. However, CBO has
calculated that the existing design for the GIG-BE program, which supports the core of
the GIG, is adequate to support military needs through 2015 and possibly through 2020,16
with technology upgrades.
Oversight Issues for Congress
The GIG-BE program raises several potential oversight issues for Congress.
Transmission Capacity of the GIG-BE. Is the current design for the GIG-BE
sufficient to support future projections for the bandwidth requirements to properly secure
classified military transmissions? Do reported projections for bandwidth requirements
adequately take into account extending the functionality of the GIG down to each
individual soldier, and to each individual sensor and individual weapons system in the
future? Do the calculations for growth in GIG-BE transmission capacity adequately
13 “Army Renames Its Network Enterprise,” Feb. 26, 2004 at [http://www.insidedefense.com/].
14 In certain situations during Operation Iraqi Freedom, commanders had access to only one
communications channel. If someone else was using it first, the commander had to wait until it
was free for him to use. Matthew French, “Bandwidth in Iraq a Subject of Debate,” Federal
Computer Week, Oct. 20, 2003, p. 43.
15 Anticipated hardware improvements by 2010 will shift the existing bandwidth bottleneck from
the brigade level to the corps level. If the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) performs as the
Army projects, the new radio may provide more than enough bandwidth for the lower tactical
levels of command, with a margin for growth of demand beyond 2010. However, at the division
and corps level, the projected demand is still expected to be much greater than the likely supply.
CBO, The Army’s Bandwidth Bottleneck, Aug. 2003 at [http://www.cbo.gov].
16 CBO, Issues Associated with the Global Information Grid Bandwidth Expansion, Feb. 28,
incorporate estimates for future changes in network technology, future developments in
weapons design, and future military tactics?
Interoperability of GIG Architectures. Each military service is creating its
own network architecture, causing many observers to be concerned that interoperability
problems between the different architectures may limit the usefulness of the overall GIG,
leaving warfighters unable to tap into all network capabilities.
DOD officials have reportedly stated that all services’ network architectures are
basically the same network, and that once the information systems are integrated, all
military units will be able to access whatever data they need (policy and security features
will control the level of access for each individual). DOD will integrate all the separate
architectures using a plan known as the Joint Technical Architecture (JTA) and the Net
Centric Operations and Warfare Reference Model (NCOWRM).17 A new DOD
requirements development process, known as the “Joint Capabilities Integration and
Development System,” now requires that all technology systems acquired to become part
of the GIG must include joint operational capabilities as part of their development and
delivery.18 The DOD Joint Staff has also created a new Force Capability Board (FCB) to19
monitor NCW programs for mismatches in funding, or mismatches in capability. The
Defense Department has merged its Business Systems Modernization (BSM) effort with
its Global Information Grid architecture project to ensure that all network architecture
efforts comply with GIG standards.20
However, some questions remain. To what degree are these DOD efforts to integrate
differing network architectures proving effective? Are the immediate needs of the war
in Iraq reinforcing the use of different network architectures? What are some possible
vulnerabilities as the enterprise and technology architectures of the GIG network become
more fully interoperable? Does increased interoperability also increase the potential for
unauthorized access or “hacking” of the GIG? Under what circumstances might it be
better to maintain a military communications network using architectures and
technologies that are less homogeneous? As technology evolves for attacking networks,
will security for the GIG be adequate to insure reliability of equipment and authenticity
for users and data?
17 Brigadier General Marc Rogers, Director Joint Requirements and Integration Directorate/ J8,
for U.S. Joint Forces Command, House Armed Services Subcommittee on Terrorism,
Unconventional Threats and Capabilities, hearing on Military C4I Systems, Oct. 21, 2003 at
[http://www.cq.com]. Statement of John Stenbit, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks
and Information Integration, House Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Terrorism,
Unconventional Threats, and Capabilities, Feb. 11, 2004.
18 Rich Tuttle, "New Organization to Stress Importance of Network Programs,” Aerospace Daily,
Jan. 30, 2004.
19 Rich Tuttle, op. cit.
20 Jason Miller, “DOD Builds on GIG Blueprint,” Government Computer News, vol. 23, no. 1,
Jan. 12, 2004.