Gmail fix for young soldiers? Army launches Google Email beta


WASHINGTON — The U.S. military has quietly begun beta testing Google Workspace as an alternative email option and a potential fix for the service’s past information technology issues.

The platform is intended to serve junior troops who may have lost access to official email accounts amid a choppy transition from Defense Enterprise Email and its addresses to the Army 365 system, which involves Microsoft-based products, according to a source familiar with the matter. The new Army 365 suite includes a email, but the military decided that not all soldiers needed it.

According to documents and briefings obtained by Army Times last year, about 250,000 personnel — mostly junior enlisted soldiers — were not included in the service’s Army 365 license plan, with sources describing the decision as cost-oriented. The service publicly pledged to maintain official email access for these members by creating an “alternative email solution” after Army Times reported that it had considered eliminating their email altogether.

However, the so-called solution did not materialize quickly, and the military pressed the Defense Information Security Agency, or DISA, to extend the life of the old messaging platform as a stopgap measure. ” transition “. Soldiers reported growing problems accessing official emails in the months that followed, with many saying their accounts had been shut down completely.

But now Google has pledged to provide services to cover the licensing shortfall, said the source familiar with the decision, who also confirmed testing began this week. Army Times reported in March that Google was a likely candidate for the project.

Questions asked to the army late Wednesday night went unanswered at the time this article was published.

The Google Workspace trial is currently a limited test for select troops. But this represents the company’s first big stab at the Department of Defense’s Goliath software. Competitor Microsoft has a long history of working with the Pentagon, providing services and products ranging from cloud computing to HoloLens – the basis of the difficulties Built-in visual augmentation system.

Last year, the DoD contacted Google, Microsoft, Oracle and Amazon regarding joint combat cloud capability, the sequel to the infamous JEDI venture, pointing out that only a few companies could meet the heavy demands of the program. Proposals are currently under review, with an award expected in December.

In November, Google announced that its Workspace product had achieved FedRAMP High clearance, a security standard for protecting the federal government’s most sensitive unclassified information in cloud computing environments.

In the same announcementthe company said it has obtained Impact Level 4, or IL4, clearance from DISA to use controlled unclassified information across all Google Cloud services.

Both certifications broadened Google’s horizons and likely made its recent foray into the military possible.

Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the military, specializing in accountability reports, personnel issues, and military justice. He joined Military Times in 2020. Davis studied history at Vanderbilt University and UNC-Chapel Hill, writing a master’s thesis on the influence of the Cold War-era Department of Defense. on Hollywood films of World War II.

Colin Demarest is a reporter at C4ISRNET, where he covers military networks, cyber and IT. Colin previously covered the Department of Energy and its NNSA — namely the Cold War cleanup and the development of nuclear weapons — for a South Carolina daily. Colin is also an award-winning photographer.


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