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ExtremeTech – US Army spent $2.7 billion on a battlefield computer that doesn’t work

Posted by 4love2love on July 9, 2011

By Sebastian Anthony on July 5, 2011 at 11:11 am


It has emerged that the multi-billion-dollar DCGS-A military computer system that was designed to help the US Army in Iraq and Afghanistan simply doesn’t work. DCGS-A is meant to accrue intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, and provide real-time battlefield analysis and the current location of high-value targets. According to two former intelligence officers that have worked with the system, however, it has hindered the war effort rather than helped.

This story has developed over the last year, beginning with a memo sent by Major General Michael Flynn, the Army’s top intelligence officer stationed in Afghanistan. In the memo [PDF], Flynn damns the apparent ineffectiveness of DCGS-A: “Analysts cannot provide their commanders a full understanding of the operational environment. Without the full understanding of the enemy and human terrain, our operations are not as successful as they could be. This shortfall translates into operational opportunities missed and lives lost.”

The memo reached the ears of several Representatives on July 19 2010, who then asked the US Army to consider switching to another, proven system that the FBI and CIA use: Palantir. The Army refused, and instead rolled out a software update that was meant to fix any issues. Unfortunately, according to the former intelligence officers, the system is still unusable. “You couldn’t share thedata,” says one of the former officers, and they both agree that the system is “prone to crashes and frequently going off-line.”

“Almost any commercial solution out there would be better,” said one. “It doesn’t work. It’s not providing the capabilities that they need,” said the other.

This isn’t the first time that the US Army — or indeed any sovereign armed force — has spent a lot of money on a system that doesn’t work. With such huge budgets, and massive systems and weapons with additional expenditure that can’t possibly be accounted for ahead of time, military spending nearly always turns into case of throwing good money after bad. Still, to spend almost $3 billion on a broken system, while proven, out-of-the-box alternatives like Palantir are readily and cheaply available, is pretty darn special.

Read more at Politico or read more about DCGS-A\

Copyright 2011 Ziff Davis, Inc


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