Army Tactical Network Quality of Service and Graceful Degradation Concept

Introduction The Army tactical network(s) currently comprise multiple, individually federated, transport mechanisms. Almost all warfighting functions, in addition to other specialized services (e.g. medical), maintain a dedicated network communication infrastructure. While this does provide some redundancy[i], it also impedes collaboration and data sharing, as well as greatly increases complexity and Cost, Size, Weight and Power (SWaP) requirements across all tactical echelons. The U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence has recently introduced a plan to converge these Command Post (CP) network architectures, promoting the concept of a single transport layer as a means to increase efficiency and enable the sharing of data across all mission functions. Achieving this degree of integration has numerous challenges. This article will focus on just one – critical information delivery assurance. Given that within this network model, all data must share a single finite capacity communication transport layer, how do we ensure that critical information is provided some assurance of guaranteed delivery and responsiveness? To achieve this, we make the case that a converged tactical network must support a comprehensive Quality of Service (QoS) implementation as well as graceful degradation mechanisms.   Background As related to computer networking, QoS is a means of prioritizing amongst various data flows such that some degree of assured service can be maintained. Simply put, QoS can be thought of as a contract between the application (user) and the network, ensuring some agreed-upon minimum level of service. QoS is predicated on the fact that not all data streams are as susceptible to high latency or bit error rate conditions as others, or that not all communication streams are of equivalent...