If a commander expects a system to have a problem, then how could they rely upon it?” Gibson said.
Gibson cast some of the blame on the packet-based nature of Internet Protocol, which was not designed for foolproof delivery of messages. The protocol cannot guarantee delivery of e-mail, for instance.
“The packet network paradigm probably needs to change,” Gibson said. “I’m not advocating throwing out the Internet Protocol completely, but we must absolutely have some mechanism for assigning network capabilities to different users and that capability has to scale to large numbers of devices automatically. The commander wants to be able to send a message and have it delivered, completely, accurately and on time.”
Another limitation with the IP approach is the inability to dynamically build networks. The military wants to quickly set up ad hoc networks.
“Static networks are no good for tomorrow’s battlefield, because everything will move around all the time,” Gibson said. “What we need is dynamic scalability. Today’s networks are stationary and have a static infrastructure that provides service to static end-nodes. Moving the node outside its standard service area requires reconfiguring something. Moving infrastructure always means reconfiguring something.”
As a result, DARPA wants to fund development of new protocols or enhancements to the existing IP that will allow nodes, such as computers, to automatically sign on to networks in their vicinity.
Another aspects of the networking that DARPA wants to revise is the seven-layer OSI stack, long held as the basic foundation for building network protocols.