Thousands of British Army servicemen across Europe are to have access to Email as part of a #180 million IT project.
The Email system, called Inter-Unit, will link some 20,000 servicemen in both regular and Territorial Army units, and run via a network of six X.400 Switching Message Transfer Agents (MTAs) across the UK, Germany and Northern Ireland. It will eventually cover the rest of the world.
It is the first time such a system has been made available to the army.
Although an Intra-Unit Email system was previously in operation, it was limited to LANs within Army units.
The new system, which has been implemented by Bull subsidiary Integris, forms part of the Army's #180 million Unicom (Unit Computing) project.
This comprises an integrated computer system which will provide all Army units with administrative support across personnel, logistics and command.
Data will be input daily, and the system will automatically generate reports and returns for administrative and command staff. The full rollout of Unicom is on target for September - six months ahead of schedule.
Inter-Unit is a sealed Email system based on technology from ICL. It is intended to carry administrative messages, but not operational. It is expected to link into the overall Army Mail service, which is also part of Unicom. The Inter-Unit system will have the additional benefit of acting as a form of pilot for the broader service.
"The next six months (with Inter-Unit) will be vital in validating procedures and communications requirements," said Major Pople, a communications staff officer involved in the project. He added that staff had "warmly welcomed" the new system.
The system is intended to streamline administration procedures. As such, one of its key advantages will be to free up more soldiers for front-line duty.
Unicom was awarded in 1994 to a consortium comprising Integris, Nortel and Logica. EDS and HP were among those who also bid for the contract.
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