FOI Daily Dose: Soldiers blow the whistle on Army’s ‘money pit’ intelligence network

One week ago Democratic U.S. senators from Virginia Mark Warner and  Tim Kaine introduced a bill to expand protections for military whistle-blowers and sexual assault victims. Yesterday, a Politico article gave legislators another reason to consider the bill: to protect junior-level soldiers who want to blow the whistle on costly and inefficient battle technologies.

Three soldiers told Politico the Army’s multi-million dollar battlefield intelligence network (DCGS-A) is “a huge, bloated, excessively expensive money pit” too complicated and unreliable to use on the ground level. But the whistle-blowers felt compelled to conceal their identities because top Army commanders praise the system as a high-tech breakthrough that satisfies the long-term need for inter-operable intelligence sharing.

Politico notes that soldiers complaining about the intelligence network have used it routinely in Afghanistan and say it doesn’t work well for their “here and now” needs — especially in remote locations where bandwidth is scarce.

Former-Marine-turned-congressman Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., says it’s yet another example of how Army bureaucracy is out of touch with realities on the ground in Afghanistan, and he’s blowing the whistle on commanders for choosing an intelligence system that won’t be fully operational for several years over a system that meets soldiers’ needs. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Hunter plans to propose an amendment during the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act debate that could cut some of the intelligence network’s funding.

Kara Hackett is SPJ’s Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern, a freelance writer and a free press enthusiast. Contact her at or on Twitter: @KaraHackett.

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