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FCW : May 30, 2015
30 May 30, 2015 FCW.COM Defense That tool is known as a Technical Control Facility in a Box. The appa- ratus consists of a few dozen transit cases that each hold a router and a core switch, and it takes about a day to assemble. TCFB allows for secure emailing and le sharing among net- work users. In the past year, Yee has made four trips to Iraq to get the com- munications network up and running, with the goal of having several U.S. allies using the system in the next few months. The U.S. military is developing simi- lar networks elsewhere in the world, Yee said, but today's air strikes on the Islamic State group, much like the 2007 surge, are making better communica- tions in the region a priority. The anti- Islamic State coalition is providing an impetus "to move this effort along more aggressively," he said. "As it matures, it will be easier to use, [and] we'll have more services available to it." He com- pared that incremental progress to add- ing applications to an iPhone. This is the U.S. military's third attempt to set up a coalition commu- nications network in either Iraq or Afghanistan, Yee added. In 2006, the Defense Department used a system called Centrix that was supposed to enable communication with allies in Iraq via a classi ed network, but "it just became another computer box" because it was ineffective, he said. TCFB could represent a turning point, though. "If we get this right, then hopefully this can help enable us to have a DOD-wide solution," he said. The project has the backing of Brig. Gen. Peter Gallagher, director of Cen- tral Command, with whom Yee said he has worked closely. Stasio said one of the lessons he drew from his experiences in Iraq was not prescribing a "one-size- ts-all solu- tion" to tactical communication needs on the battlefield. Yee seems to be applying that lesson through TCFB. The Asia IT pivot While Yee was setting up telecom-in-a- box capabilities in Iraq, his colleagues halfway around the world were working on a broader project. Their goal was to communicate quickly and discreetly across the vast Paci c Command, which stretches from the U.S. West Coast to India. Military communications in the Paci c are not as structured as they are in, say, continental Europe, which is de ned by NATO networks, said Rear Adm. Nancy Norton, who until March was the Paci c Command's director of command, control, communica- tions and cyber. A humanitarian assis- tance operation in Southeast Asia, for example, might entail an ad hoc group of countries working together on a proj- ect for which there is no preexisting communications protocol, she added. "Our networks don't have the ability to ex that well and that quickly, and our approval processes aren't currently set up to be able to support that very quickly," Norton told FCW. She said she was concerned that the ad hoc nature of Paci c Command communications could hinder the way countries such as Australia took part in the ght against the Islamic State group. "What we don't want to do is cre- ate more of a burden on our allies and partners to have to stand up multiple networks and network infrastructure in order to be able to communicate with different segments of the U.S. Defense Department," she said. And so Norton turned to something called the Joint Capability Technology Demonstration to tackle the Pacific Command's communications riddle. JCTD is a common network divided into "virtual enclaves" that offer participants separate secure channels of communi- cation. The network architecture can be assembled quickly and is well suited to the ad hoc coalitions Washington works with in the Asia-Paci c theater, accord- ing to Norton. As with Yee's telecom-in-a-box, Cen- tral Command has expressed strong interest in the communication tool Nor- ton implemented. That's because "the long-term Afghan mission network that we had in support of Afghanistan isn't what we now need" for the ght against the Islamic State group, she said. And like Yee's work, JCTD could out- last a war against the Islamic State that U.S. commanders have said might take years. Norton said the network architec- ture is "becoming the foundation for the Joint Information Environment...that all of the combatant commands across the world are working toward because we all have similar requirements for this." Thus, the war against ISIS is helping drive JIE, a DOD-wide IT initiative that has been largely abstract until now. If the projects initiated by Yee and Nor- ton are any guide, the future of military communications will be de ned by nim- ble, ad hoc methods capable of being quickly packed up and sent to the next con ict, thousands of miles away. And commanders will be able to see very quickly just how much these new uni- ed communications systems can help troops in the eld. n "What we don't want to do is create more of a burden on our allies and partners to have to stand up multiple networks and network infrastructure in order to be able to communicate with different segments of the U.S. Defense Department." --- REAR ADM. NANCY NORTON
May 15, 2015
June 15, 2015