Funding for military mobile technology flattens as demand rises.

Author:Tadjdeh, Yasmin

Funding to incorporate smartphones and tablets in Defense Department offices and on battlefields has stagnated even as demand for devices is rising.

At the National Security Agency, employees want devices similar to the ones that can be purchased at most retailers, said Debora Plunkett, director of the NSNs information assurance directorate.

To keep up with demand, the NSA is exploring devices that can be kept secure--particularly in a classified network--while offering the latest in technological advancements, Plunkett said in November at an Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association symposium in Washington, D.C.

"User's expectations are leading to the development of ... these technologies, which will continue to change the security paradigm and present new challenges for us," Plunkett said. "It is not only our user's expectations driving the capability requirements, but the rapid pace of innovation is also causing the user ... to demand the latest and greatest technologies that are available in the domestic market."

Uniformed and civilian workers are clamoring to get their hands on the latest technology--such as iOS and Android enabled devices--that industry promises will make communication and productivity more streamlined.

But as budgets slide, acquiring new high-tech devices is becoming less feasible, experts said. Funding for mobile devices will be flat as the military grapples with budget cuts and sequestration.

"For the Army, my mobility budget is decreasing," said Rick Walsh, mobile lead at the Army's office of the chief information officer/G-6. "Our funding for mobile is very small."

Peter Ziomek, mobile director at the CIO office for the Department of the Navy, said the "mobility budget is flat, but declining."

However, the department has taken steps to save money without cutting mobile capabilities over the past few years, he noted.

With what funding is available, the Pentagon will likely have to purchase devices that may still have some kinks in them, said Jennifer Carter, component acquisition executive at the Defense Information Systems Agency.

"We're not waiting for things to be perfect and fully mature. We're getting capabilities that are out there quickly and then were continuing to enhance those capabilities," Carter said. "We really worked hard to close the gap with industry."

Mobile technology can change rapidly, she said. DISA is working to keep up pace with innovation in the domestic market that churns...

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