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2021 NDAA to Establish 5G Cross-Functional Team

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The 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which the House passed Tuesday, will develop a 5G cross-functional team inside the Department of Defense (DoD), and name a chief information officer (CIO) to spearhead the initiative, Defense News reported on Wednesday.

The NDAA will shift the 5G project from the research phase to an operational program. Following the DoD’s announcement of $600 million in funds to support 5G experiments at military bases across the nation, the experiments have the potential to become operational technologies. 

If signed into law, the NDAA would direct the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, with support from the 5G cross-functional team, to create a plan for transitioning 5G wireless technology to operational use within the DoD.

The transition plan would need to include a “timeline for the transition of responsibility for 5G wireless networking to the chief information officer.” Additionally, the secretary of defense must name the CIO by Oct. 1, 2023.

“The secretary of defense shall designate the chief information officer as the senior official within DoD with primary responsibility for policy, oversight, guidance, research and coordination on matters relating to 5G wireless networking; and making proposals to the secretary on governance, management and organizational policy for 5G wireless networking,” the legislation stated.

The 5G cross-functional team will work across a variety of challenges related to 5G wireless network, including establishing acquisition authorities, strategy implementation, advancing adoption of next-generation commercial 5G technology, facilitating public-private partnerships and coordinating research and development.

The team will also be responsible for initiatives advancing 5G wireless network technologies. 5G cross-functional team will be charged with integrating  5G wireless networking into programs and initiatives “relating to secure microelectronics and command and control.”

The legislation places 5G procurement authorities with military department secretaries. The department would have to create a 5G security program to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities in the 5G telecommunications infrastructure.