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Another IT Issue: Army Personnel May Lose Email Access

Motortion Films / shutterstock.com
Motortion Films / shutterstock.com

We keep hearing about IT issues throughout the government. We hear about how we don’t have enough high-level IT professionals. We hear about how we don’t have enough cutting-edge technology. And, we hear about how we don’t have enough funding to maintain the IT standards that we need.

And now, we hear about another IT issue, and it has to do with the Army not having enough emails to go around.

This sounds like a pretty easy problem to fix. Yet, because Congress has decided to cut Department of Defense budgets over and over again, many Army personnel are finding themselves without an email.

So, what’s going on?

The Army transitioned to an Army 365 collaboration platform, which would also include army.mil email access. The only problem is that IT officials within the Army have identified that the email access wouldn’t include all Arm personnel.

Army G-6 officials have estimated that somewhere around 250,000 individuals won’t have a license for Army 365 services. This means that junior enlisted troops, civilians, and even contractors may find themselves without official email access.

This might have been acceptable in the 1990s when a significant amount of communication was still being performed over the phone and via fax. However, email is the most critical form of communication now – and not providing 250,000 individuals with access is a significant problem.

At one point, the Army actually considered denying official email access to many junior soldiers. Apparently, leaving them out of the loop was deemed acceptable.

However, there’s now a decision that has to be made: who gets Army 365 access and who doesn’t?

This shouldn’t be a decision that has to be made. Everyone in the Army as well as everyone who works with the Army (civilians and contractors) should have access. It will ensure that everyone can get to the programs they need and communicate in a safe and effective way.

One Army spokesperson, Bruce Anderson, explained in an email statement that “The Army remains committed to ensuring all Soldiers, Civilians, and required contractors continue to have Army-provided email access.” Well, it looks like Anderson still has access to his email…

It seems that what the Army is saying and doing are two different things. Anderson says that the Army is committed to making sure that everyone has email access. Yet, G-6 briefers are still saying that they have not decided how they’re going to provide those extra email accounts.

Time is of the essence, too.

The existing Defense Enterprise Email service and the mail.mil accounts will go dark on March 31. This means that they have a little over three months to figure everything out. Otherwise, it will be nearly impossible to communicate with 250,000 members of the Army.

There’s nothing quite like telling someone their job means nothing like denying them access to an email account.

The Defense Infrastructure Security Agency has already been preparing for its deadline by deleting tens of thousands of these DEE accounts, regardless of whether they have a new Army 365 email address or not.

The Army 365 licenses are in cooperation with Microsoft. If you haven’t figured it out yet, there are fewer licenses than personnel. It’s just another way that the DOD has decided to cut corners and save money.

We have to do better. IT is where we’re falling short already, and not providing email access to personnel is simply unacceptable. Meanwhile, there are still officials scratching their heads, trying to understand how China has a jumpstart on tech over the U.S. Hmmm, mind-boggling, isn’t it?