Smart Move For U.S. Army
As the Army looks for innovative solutions to slim its financial waistline, a new facility for the advanced version of its protected satellite terminal has consolidated production, training and fielding in one location in an effort to save millions of dollars.
The training facility is co-located with the production facility to reduce our logistical footprint, overhead and reliability risk, said Larry Raville, project lead for the Secure, Mobile, Anti-Jam, Reliable, Tactical-Terminal, known as SMART-T. No longer does a team have to travel all over the world to field, ship and train these systems. Its all done in one location.
The first class of students, consisting of Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), attended the Advanced Extremely High Frequency, or AEHF, SMART-T New Equipment Training, or NET, at the new facility in Largo, November 7-18. The facilitys grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony was held on November 9, with the students from the 101st, members of the SMART-T team, and contractor leadership in attendance.
This is the first time in the Armys history that a weapon system has had a NET/fielding facility embedded with a production plant, Raville said. The AEHF SMART-T facility is expected to yield more than $9 million in cost avoidance and cost savings by reducing the logistical footprint of training, fielding and upgrading the terminals.
Product Manager Satellite Communications, or PdM SATCOM, which manages SMART-T, also expects to see an increase in the terminals reliability rate, since all of the logistics are centrally located and issues can be more easily addressed, Raville said.
Prior to the opening of this facility, if a failure occurred during training, we could be 900 miles away and it would take three or four days to get an asset out there, entailing huge shipping costs along with the loss of time, said Mel Pointer, SMART-T Integrated Logistics Support manager. Now we just have to walk across the street.
SMART-T makes it possible for Soldiers to extend the range of their network in such a manner that communications cannot be jammed, detected, or intercepted. Soldiers can send text, data, voice and video communications beyond their area of operations without worrying that the information will fall into the hands of enemy forces.
Used at the brigade echelon and above, this satellite terminal mounts on High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles, or Humvees, and provides robust worldwide communications.
SMART-T provides a means of [protected satellite] communications that isnt available through other terminals, said Sgt. David Carpenter, with the 101st, who was part of the first class at the new facility. It may not be used quite as often, but when it is needed, no other terminal can do what it does. No other capability can replicate it.
SMART-T enables the Soldier to extend communications in harsh environments without the risk of enemy interception or detection, increasing the safety of Soldiers on the battlefield. It provides tactical protected SATCOM for the close fight. When removed from the Humvee it is capable of stand-alone operation and can be airlifted via helicopter so it can get to a particular point on the battlefield in a hurry, establishing and maintaining a link quickly and reliably.
Any time a commander needs protected, secure throughput for worldwide communications for current operations, this is his only capability, Raville said.
The biggest difference between the legacy and the new AEHF satellite terminal upgrade is a fourfold increase in capacity and improved security features. AEHF terminals will increase satellite throughput with the extended data rate payload.
Because SMART-T is protected, the systems have a lower bandwidth capability, but the upgrade gives us a higher bandwidth throughput by fourfold, said LTC Gregory Coile, PdM for SATCOM, which is assigned to Project Manager Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, or PM WIN-T. The advanced system also provides greater overall satellite access.
Approximately 240 of the legacy systems have been fielded to date, plus an additional 60 AEHF SMART-Ts. Currently 39 new AEHF SMART-T terminals are in production and the remaining legacy systems will all be upgraded with the AEHF capability. By 2018 the total force is expected to have 411 of the AEHF SMART-Ts, with users including the Navy, Air Force, National Guard, Homeland Security, Missile Defense Authority, international partners and other special users.
While the Air Force is responsible for developing and maintaining military satellites, the Army develops, procures and fields the Earth terminals such as the SMART-Ts. The two work closely together to ensure system interoperability. The Air Force is in the process of changing from the militarys legacy satellite constellation to the new AEHF satellite constellation, and it uses the Armys version of the AEHF terminals for satellite testing, Coile said.
The best benefits [of the new AEHF SMART-T] are the data rate, the bandwidth, being able to push more data and get more users on it, and its reliability, said Sgt. Jesse Murphy of the 101st, who was part of the first training class at the facility and has worked with legacy SMART-Ts for four years. It will be invaluable.
Along with the NET, the facility will also offer delta training, which provides experienced legacy SMART-T operators such as Murphy training on the AEHF version of the terminals. One of the biggest values of the facility is that roughly 75 percent of the training is hands-on, with only a minimum of classroom time involved, leaving the Soldier well-prepared upon deployment, Pointer said.
After Soldiers complete their training, the unit actually signs for the same equipment that they have trained on, and that equipment is then shipped to their new location. Prior to the opening of the facility, the SMART-T team would have to fly out to the unit several times to get them set up with the equipment, help with training and then inventory and sign over the equipment. The new facility allows the team to take care of everything in one spot.
The SMART-T NET/Fielding facility will also be a portal for data exchange and will be linked to Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania, which will input valuable reset information into the facilitys database. The intent is to have a database that follows each SMART-T through all phases of its life cycle, from production to fielding, to upgrades to reset, with all of the data filed at a single source. This information is expected to save time, provide cost avoidance in maintenance and increase system reliability, Pointer said.
SMART-T is part of the WIN-T architecture and is compatible with both WIN-T Increments 1 and 2 and their corresponding equipment. Similar to a home Internet connection, WIN-T Increment 1, the Armys current tactical network backbone, provides high-speed, high-capacity voice, data and video communications to units on the battlefield, at-the-halt or at-the-quick-halt. WIN-T Increment 2 will provide this network to military formations while on the move. In the spring of 2012 WIN-T Increment 2 will undergo its Initial Operational Test and Evaluation, or IOT&E, at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, and SMART-T will have a supporting role in that event.
PM WIN-T is assigned to Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical, or PEO C3T.
The AEHF SMART-T is a new capability within the WIN-T construct and a chance to marry our capability in line with the ARFORGEN [Army Force Generation] cycle requirements, Pointer said. When a unit rotates out of the box, that whole unit gets reset, and we are making sure that when they move back onto the ready line, we have conformed to all of their requirements. Here we have our own resources to get that done. You just cant beat the value of that.
Story by Amy Walker, who is a staff writer for Symbolic Systems, Inc., which supports the Armys Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T).
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Blocked Signal Bustout
On November 3rd , the Arizona Vigilant Guard exercise involved approximately 250 government agencies and 8,000 participants responding to simulated flooding and an improvised nuclear device detonation in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
In response, NORTHCOM 302 Airlift Wing, Communications Flight deployed their trailer based Joint Incident Site Communications Capability (JISCC) Teams. These teams were tasked with providing satellite based reachback communications. However, the concrete and rebar building construction blocked signal transmission to the Joint Operations Center (JOC). Deployment of their recently delivered SATPAK cellular and satellite data relay system, manufactured by 308 SYSTEMS solved this urgent need.
The JISCC Teams then relied upon the briefcase sized SATPAK to provide a high-bandwidth wireless pipe from the JISCC satellite location into the JOC, along with a 21Gbps cellular data backup connection. This ultra-agile system improved the efficiency of critical Vigilant Guard Internet connections and CONUS data networks during the exercise.
The Vigilant Guard exercise, sponsored by the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, is designed to ensure effective coordination between local, state, private sector, non-governmental organizations and federal partners. The JOC was established inside a building at the Papago Park Military Reservation, and could not receive satellite signals directly inside the facility due to the concrete and rebar facility construction.
To relay the JISCC satellite signal into the non-Line-Of-Sight (nLOS) JOC location, NORTHCOM deployed their SATPAK Ultra-Agile satellite and cellular data relay system. In addition to the local JISCC-to-JOC data pipe, the innovative SATPAK was capable of projecting Internet data connections with deployed teams up to three miles from the JISCC trailer, thereby increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of deployed troop assets.
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The 2011 U.S. Strategic Command Cyber and Space Symposium kicked off, November 15, at the CenturyLink Center in downtown Omaha with discussions highlighting the evolving nature of cyber and space capabilities and the rippling effects of their technological advancement through military, industrial and domestic applications.
More than 1,500 senior military leaders, service members, Department of Defense personnel, industry insiders, academic authorities, sponsors and international partners from 13 nations were in attendance as various expert panels and keynote speakers offered a varied and comprehensive information exchange on emerging concepts in cyber and space. Gen. C. Robert Kehler, commander, USSTRATCOM, said the accessibility and progression in cyber and space realms have led to a new age of unique prospects and concerns as his opening remarks centered on the symposiums theme of New Challenges, New Opportunities.
Space and cyber capabilities provide the U.S., our allies, and our partners with unprecedented advantages in national decision-making and military operations, in homeland security, in economic strength, and in scientific discovery. Friend and foe alike are tapping into those benefits, sometimes maliciously, at times driven by profit-seeking motives to their own advantages, Kehler said. The potential battle space has expanded to encompass areas and domains that previously didnt figure in our calculations. It wasnt too long ago that operationally we, in the U.S. military, believed that space was something of a sanctuary for our operations. That is certainly not true today.
He later added, Recognizing U.S. conventional dominance, adversaries are seeking ways to negate key elements of U.S. power asymmetrically in all domains, and surprise remains an attractive objective, especially where surprise can be strategically decisive in areas like cyberspace and space.
The general noted how the last decade has seen significant technological changes in both cyber and space landscapes. General Kehler spoke on how computing power has increased, comparably offering super computer-like capability to the average user, and how space is no longer limited to world powers.
What used to be reserved for only the most technically advanced nations is now available to the general public, like one-meter satellite imaging of our neighborhood or of distant travel destinations. And thats now a reality just a couple of clicks away from where you happen to sit today, he said.
Kehler further explained how cyber and space principles coincide with one another, citing similarities in the National Space Policy and the National Cyber Policy. Both documents outline beneficial advantages; mutual interest for acting responsibly in cyber and space domains; facilitating, strengthening and empowering coalitions and partnerships with allies; and how cyber and space initiatives can improve partnerships in science and technology, and education and professional development.
Gen. Keith Alexander, commander, U.S. Cyber Command, also offered his perspective on cyber issues as one of the keynote speakers for the event. Cyberspace is ubiquitous, most nation states are creating capabilities and when you look at it, weve got to have our doctrine, our tactics, our techniques and procedures out there. Weve got to understand that weve got to be prepared to defend our nation in cyberspace, Alexander said. Our adversaries are going to use asymmetric capabilities against us, look at 9/11. Cyber is one of those asymmetric capabilities. We should not be surprised if someone uses it against us.
Alexander highlighted the vast number of Internet users, the proliferation of malware through online applications and web pages, the theft of intellectual property in the cyber realm, and the vital need for trained and ready cyber forces to counter growing cyber threats.
The general further explained statistically how online environments have volumes of exploitative vulnerabilities citing, AT&T mobile data rates have increased 8,000 percent over the last four years. [There are] over two billion Internet users today. Last year there were 107 trillion emails sent thats 294 million a day. Of that, 89 percent was spam.
Other conference speakers included Madelyn Creedon, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs; Lt. Gen. Michael Basla, vice commander, Air Force Space Command; Christopher Painter, Coordinator for Cyber Issues, Department of State; David Thompson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Orbital Sciences Corporation; Frank Rose, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Space and Defense Policy; Adm. James Winnefeld, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and the Honorable Howard Schmidt, White House Cybersecurity Coordinator.
Various panels also covered a wide range of topics including managing risks associated with internet-based networking, the future of cyber and space, international cooperation, diplomacy to strengthen stability in space, as well as other cyber and space related subjects of interest. The International Cyber Collaboration panel consisted of military officers from Brazil, Canada, France and Estonia who discussed their views of cyber-related issues. This year marks the first time the event merged cyber and space themes under one banner as discussions drew parallels to their mutual significance and application. USSTRATCOM sponsored symposiums are noted for creating an open forum environment encouraging further discussion and networking among guests.
Videos of the proceedings are now available at https://www.youtube.com/stratcompa and http://www.stratcom.mil under symposiums.
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A Mod For TDRS
Boeing has received a $289 million contract modification from NASA, exercising an option to add Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) M to the existing TDRS fleet.
Three Boeing-built TDRS satellites are currently providing critical services to NASA, and two more are on schedule for delivery to the customer with launches planned in 2012 and 2013. The TDRS satellites incorporate a modern design based on flight-proven performance. The steerable, single-access antennas can simultaneously transmit and receive at S-band and either Ku- or Ka-band, supporting dual independent, two-way communication. The 15-foot diameter antennas are designed with flexible membrane reflectors that stow for launch before springing back into their original parabolic shape on orbit.
Boeing was awarded a contract for the TDRS K series in December 2007. The initial award included TDRS K and L, with an option for TDRS M. The company previously built the three satellites in the TDRS H, I, and J series for NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center. Boeing continues in its role supporting NASAs key programs over a period that spans more than four decades.
Boeing has teamed with General Dynamics to modify the existing TDRS system ground terminals to be compatible with the TDRS K, L and M satellites. The ground terminals, located at the White Sands Complex in New Mexico, are the primary two-way communications link between the TDRS satellites and the ground-based elements of the TDRS system communications network.
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Comms Maintained @ Basrah
Ensuring that communications are maintained for troops on the ground is crucial to mission success. At Contingency Operating Base Basrah, Iraq, the soldiers of 2nd Platoon, Bravo Company, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division have remained vigilant in their work to ensure communications are fully functional at all times as forces drawdown.
Hard work and preparation have made mitigating outages easier for the platoon and they increase their capabilities daily. Teamwork is also an essential part of the platoons effort as well.
In preparation of the transition from military to U.S. Department of State operations, the platoon worked closely with the brigades communication shop (S-6) and the consulate transition team, located in Basrah, to ensure a smooth transition. As units redeploy, the platoon will fill the gaps left on COB Basrah and expand services to the remaining units as required.
In addition to maintaining a Joint Network Node and a Satellite Transportable Terminal, Company B is responsible for several point-to-point communication lines and fiber links throughout the province. Several soldiers have completed missions taking them outside the bases perimeter wire and into the city of Basrah to troubleshoot systems at remote sites.
Several additional missions have been added to the duties of the platoon, such as the command and control vehicle system which provides commanders the capability to have all communications available inside a mine resistant ambush protected vehicle while it is moving. This allows for more efficient command and control on the battlefield which is important as the use of hardened structure makes way to more expeditionary and mobile platforms during movement out of the country.
The platoon also provides morale support as several soldiers have been tasked with the mission of ensuring the Armed Forces Network is up and running at locations around COB Basrah. This allows all soldiers and civilians the ability to watch television as well as listen to the radio.
Even as the mission is winding down, the soldiers of 2nd Platoon continue to maintain their most basic soldier skills, all while making sure their main focus is on the network and providing the best services possible for redeploying units.
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Perfect Payload PDR
Imagery for military commanders will be timely and of high resolution...
Harris Corporation has successfully completed a two-day Preliminary Design Review for a synthetic aperture radar satellite payload that will provide military commanders in the field with timely, high-resolution radar imagery of the Earths surface regardless of weather conditions or time of day. The review is a key milestone that confirms the Harris design approach is consistent with the customers technical requirements, allowing the payload team to transition into the detailed design phase of the program.
Harris was awarded a 30-month contract in December 2010 by Sierra Nevada Corporation to design, build and integrate the synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite payload for the Modular Space Vehicle. The contract is part of NASAs Rapid Response Space Works and Modular Space Vehicles program for the U.S. Department of Defenses Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) Office a joint NASA/DoD initiative chartered to field modular payloads rapidly and inexpensively. The Harris payload architecture supports a new family of modular military satellites, offering flexibility to support multiple missions with minimal changes in the basic design. The SAR payload will produce high-resolution radar imagery of the Earths surface, even during darkness or inclement weather.
The Harris team has successfully architected a flexible, modular RF payload that can support the ORS program office through a variety of RF missions and provide the Joint Force Commanders with the assets required to execute their missions, said Bill Gattle, vice president, Harris Space Communications Systems. The ORS SARSAT configuration serves as the baseline for our reconfigurable payload, which reflects decades of Harris experience in antenna and electronics solutions for multiple space missions.
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Kudos For Iraqi Op
In addition to providing satellite Internet services to residential and business clients all across Europe, Bentley Walker also provides vital services to many operations across the Middle East. One of our Iraqi based clients recently shared their experience with us.
Thanks to your system and your support we have been successful. Northrop Grumman.
Douglas T works for Northrop Grumman who provide field engineering and services to the US Military based in Iraq. They are the fourth-largest defence contractor in the world and provide a range of services to the military including the construction of aircraft carriers, missile defence systems and IT services.
Their first task in Iraq was to set up operations in the Al Faw Palace in Baghdad. Getting online is essential to their operations however there was no infrastructure in place in Baghdad at the time. They ordered a Bentley Walker satellite Internet and installed it on the Al Faw Palace roof.
We relied on your Internet service to keep our systems running. Parts were ordered, software patches down-loaded, and critical information was passed to keep a family of high-tech, complex systems running. Douglas T, Northrop Grumman.
Bentley Walker provided all the hardware that was required for the Internet connection to be set up. Northrop Grumman has been so impressed with the service that they are taking all the hardware back to the U.S. now that their work in Iraq has finished. They hope to be able to put it to use again soon though.
This satellite link was vital not only to keep their business running but it also provided a link with friends and families all around the world. Without a reliable, secure and fast Internet connection Northrop Grumman would have struggled to fully serve the needs of their clients in Iraq. Also the ability to call home every day boosted the morale of all staff.
It always brings us great pleasure to hear how our satellite Internet services are helping businesses to operate in the most remote and often hostile conditions. Not only have our services provided Northrop Grumman with vital communications support in the last decade but it has meant that all those working in the field were able to stay in touch with family and friends. We look forward to working with Northrop Grumman again in the future.
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Theres A New Evolution
iDirect Government Technologies (iGT), in conjunction with the U.S. Air Force and the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), has successfully tested the Aero-Mobility features of iGTs advanced Evolution technology using a Ka-band Advanced Multiband Communications Antenna System (AMCAS) low-profile airborne antenna over the Department of Defense (DoD) Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) system.
Considered in the context of emerging commercial Aero Mobile Satcom Services (AMSS), iGTs Evolution product family provides a unified radio access network technology option for an integrated military WGS and commercial Ka-band AMSS. iGTs Evolution platform, which uses a Current-Force-Modem on multiple satellite bands, and the AMCAS low-profile antenna have demonstrated the capability to transmit and receive high-speed information when operating over a WGS system in Ka-band. The DISA demonstration, conducted October 6, 2011, validates a qualified solution for next-generation airborne wide-body, high-Doppler on-the-move capabilities and establishes a realistic production specification by demonstrating the performance criteria in an operational environment.
For the DISA test, the AMCAS antenna was mounted on an aircraft flying over the Atlantic coastline after taking off from Hanscom Air Force Base. The evaluation was conducted at a DISA Joint Satcom Engineering Center at Aberdeen Proving Grounds using a 9.1 M Ka-STAR Hub Antenna and iGTs Evolution e8350 Internet Protocol (IP) baseband equipment.
Shaum Mittal, Chief Engineer, PEO-COMMS, DISA, stated, This demonstration of the Aero-Mobility features over the Wideband Global Satcom System using Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) technology is an extremely important step toward providing viable Aero Mobile communications by using a mixture of the readily available commercial solutions and DoD assets.
iGT demonstrated its next-generation transmission standard (DVB-S2) with Adaptive Coding and Modulation outbound technology with a Multi-Frequency Time Division Multiple Access inbound IP-based platform. The demonstration also included successful evaluations of iGTs latest AES-256 based Transmission Security software. Test criteria included an airborne bi-directional video teleconferencing session while simultaneously running IP file transfer applications.
With more than 380 high-capacity Evolution and previous generation iNFINITI satellite hubs, deployed for the U.S. DoD and more than 1,000 commercially deployed hubs with complete global coverage, iGTs satellite IP solutions are used for critical communications ranging from force protection, logistics, situational awareness, disaster recovery and emergency response.
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A SNAP of Technology
Ground satellite terminals are being leveraged in the Armys most recent Network Integration Evaluation, or NIE, highlighting its objective to ensure that new technologies and network improvements work hand-in-hand with presently fielded systems.
We have made an enormous investment in current theater-provided equipment, so when we bring in new technology, we want to see that it has open standards and will work with equipment that we have already purchased, said Lt. Col. Gregory Coile, product manager for Satellite Communications, or PdM SATCOM, which is assigned to the Project Manager Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, known as PM WIN-T.
Seven WIN-T Increment 1 SIPR/NIPR Access Point, or SNAP, satellite terminals and five WIN-T Increment 2 SNAPs are being used during the three-week NIE 12.1 to help the Army evaluate rapid acquisition solutions, while integrating and maturing its tactical network. NIE 12.1 involves the 3,800 Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, and nearly 1,000 vehicles spread across the austere environment of White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, or WSMR.
SNAPs are designed to provide beyond-line-of-sight communications to small units at remote forward operating bases where they are unable to use line-of-sight radios either due to issues with terrain or distance. The terminals are represented at the NIE just as they are used in theater, as theater-provided equipment, or TPE, which is equipment that remains in theater instead of being taken back to a units home station following a deployment.
Since the mountains and deserts of WSMR replicate the challenging terrain of Afghanistan, SNAP capabilities and their integration with other systems can be evaluated in a realistic, reliable test environment.
By integrating and evaluating current and emerging technologies in some of the same harsh conditions found in theater, the NIE allows the Army to make informed decisions on where it wants to go with the network, Coile said.
SNAP is a non-program-of-record commercial off-the-shelf system that provides reliable SATCOM access. Nearly 600 terminals have been fielded to date. In part, the terminals will be employed at the NIE to evaluate the TPE modifications needed to allow the SNAP to work in concert with the second increment of the WIN-T network. A modified baseline will then be established for the SNAPs, so when new technologies that leverage the terminals are introduced, everything works together like a well-oiled machine.
In NIE 12.1 we are modifying the current TPE baseline SNAPs to work with the WIN-T Increment 2 network to demonstrate that that the rest of the TPE equipment in theater can also be modified to work in the new Increment 2 network as needed, Coile said. Then we will use that new baseline as benchmark for other technology that comes into the NIE either through sources sought or other programs.
WIN-T Increment 1, which is currently fielded to about 90 percent of the total force, is a communications network that enables the exchange of voice, video, and data throughout the tactical Army. While WIN-T Increment 1 provides satellite communications at-the-quick-halt to the battalion level, Increment 2 will bring the initial on-the-move capability to those at the company level.
During the present fight, critical intelligence is gathered at higher echelons and disseminated to the company and platoon level, Coile said. SNAP has empowered these small units with the information that is key to their decision-making process. Though SNAP users cant move and communicate, WIN-T Increment 2 will provide Soldiers at the company with that initial capability so they can share voice and data in a mobile environment.
In line with the Armys accelerated, more cost-effective approach to network modernization, WIN-T Increment 2 has been integrated into tactical formations at the current NIE a full six months ahead of its formal operational test.
One of the purposes of the NIE is to make sure systems are fully interoperable when integrated into the Armys tactical network in CONUS (Continental United States) before deploying into theater; this prevents imposing unnecessary burdens on commanders and units, said Col. Ed Swanson, PM for WIN-T, which is assigned to the Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications-Tactical, or PEO C3T.
PEO C3T is leading the effort to build, integrate and fill the NIE network. During the NIE 12.1, SNAP satellite terminals are also being used to evaluate the Company Command Post communications link from the company up to higher echelons and will be integrated with mission command servers and web-based, voice and video applications. These capabilities include:
– Command Post of the Future, or CPOF, a collaborative system allowing users to visualize the common operating picture and efficiently plan the battle
– Tactical Ground Reporting, known as TIGR, which empowers Soldiers to collect, share and analyze patrol data in a central database
– The Effects Management Tool which pro- vides access to critical fire support information
– The Microsoft Office Environment, which enables interaction with email and documents from the command post
My TIGR and all of my intelligence and communications systems worked better off of the SNAP, said Capt. Scott DeWitt, who previously served as a company commander with 2/1 AD. And now with the SNAP I have a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone; so no longer do I have to get on the radio. I can just make a phone call and talk to the people who I need to talk to without fogging up channels. The SNAP worked well.
These terminals are a key communications component for units, providing secure beyond-line-of-sight communications to battalions and below. In line with the Armys goal to extend the network to the furthest tactical edge, SNAP terminals take advantage of commercial equipment to expedite the fielding process and provide access to the tactical and strategic networks for mission command, calls for fire, medevac and information exchange.
I was deployed in Afghanistan for 15 months, so I know disconnected operations at the company and platoon level, DeWitt said. During the NIE, the SNAP gave me the ability to do non-line-of-sight, digital communications over a long distance. It gave me good throughput.
Newer technology has enabled engineers to design the terminals to weigh only 300-400 pounds and fit into three transit cases, which can be transported in the back of high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles or helicopters. Their modular design allows for varying dish and antenna sizes to appropriately satisfy mission requirements.
Because they can be packed in transit cases and have low-power requirements, SNAPs are easy to move around the battlefield, providing an expeditionary element to the force. As priorities change and more resources are needed in different locations, they can be quickly deployed and set up for quick network accessibility.
Every time we broke it down (during the NIE), we put it back together, DeWitt said. These werent specialized satellite operators who came out to do it. It was always handled by infantry men.
As the network lead for the NIEs, PEO C3T integrates its own capabilities as well as those from other PEOs and industry to ensure that they function together as an overarching network. The aim is to get capability into the hands of the Soldier much faster than normal acquisition cycles allow.
The NIE process is shortening the development cycle, and units are getting a better product, especially with the network, DeWitt said. The network is not something that the Army has time to mess around with, he said.
The normal acquisition process could take upwards of 10 years to get needed capability to the field and by that time needed capability can be obsolete.
We have to have the systems in place to evaluate the equipment, to make sure that it is secure and operationally it is sound, and then push it out, DeWitt said. If we are going to play in these waters, we have to move quickly.
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A Step Closer
U.S. Army engineers discussed the results of their efforts to enable a self-aware, decision-making network during the Military Communications Conference 2011, which was held at the Baltimore Convention Center on November 8th.
The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Commands communications-electronics center, or CERDEC, has developed cognitive wireless networking capabilities that employ network-wide learning and reasoning algorithms that share information that enable nodes to make decisions.
CERDEC engineers hope that the results of their Cognitive Algorithm & Network Design Experiment, or CANDE, will enable easier network maintenance, reduce human decision-making requirements, increase network lifetime, transfer data with less delay, and reduce energy consumption all of which result in a higher degree of network performance on the battlefield.
Its important that we apply learning and reasoning because currently, theres no intelligence in the network. Therefore, were developing capabilities that will aid the network in taking on this adaptive layer of learning and information sharing to reduce the complexity in managing the network, said Sharon Mackey, chief for the Network Design and Cognitive Networking Sciences branch of CERDECs Space &Terrestrial Communications Directorate.
A more intelligent infrastructure reduces the need for Soldier intervention and aids in providing seamless information, noted Mitesh Patel, S&TCD technical lead for CANDE.
A Soldier has to keep track of a lot of things to maintain the network such as network constraints, requirements and objectives. With cognitive algorithms, the network is more intelligent and self aware thus reducing resource management in the network, Patel said.
One of the products within CANDE is the Cognitive Network Engineering Design Analytic Toolset, or CNEDAT, which can provide network design architectures for networks as they are being engineered, maintained, repaired or redesigned.
The CNEDAT does not need a constructed network. Provide the constraints and objectives, and it will create a network for you: That is the power of this tool. It can optimize existing networks, and it can design a network from scratch while providing the most optimized way of maneuvering through the network, Patel said. One way it does this is by choosing a tactical radio signals hopping pattern. Radios typically hop to the closest radio; however, the closer radio may not always be the better choice if it is congested with traffic, explained Charles Graff, an electronics engineer with CERDEC S&TCD.
The algorithm looks at the delay estimation to all source destination pairs and then determines which route has the best bandwidth or least traffic before transmitting data. The algorithm then updates itself on a periodic basis and learns from past experience not to take certain paths, Graff said. The algorithms can also enable a dimmer-switch capability to help reduce network energy consumption.
CERDEC S&TCD proved their concept in an operationally-relevant environment June 1st to July 15 at Fort Dix, New Jersey, during Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance & Network Modernization Event 2011.
Throughout CANDE, CERDEC S&TCD used commercial off-the-shelf radios to prove the operations of cognitive algorithms. The overall field network performance validated the predictions of CNEDAT based on prior work done in CERDEC laboratories, Mackey said.
Anytime you try to put something on the network, it consumes network overhead, which in turn reduces bandwidth; the implementation of CANDE was achieved with minimal impact on the network overhead, Mackey said.
CERDEC S&TCD is seeking to establish a follow-on program to conduct analysis on tactical radios in a testbed environment; currently, they are looking at the WIN-T and JTRS communities as targets of opportunity for transition, Graff said.
Story by Edric Thompson, RDECOM CERDEC Public Affairs
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Phones + Veternarians In Parched Kenya
Reaching out before its too late for man or beast in Kenyas rural draught stricken villages...
Télécoms Sans Frontières is launching a pilot project in Kenya using the mobile phone-based, payment and money transfer system M-PESA for the benefit of populations in pastoral areas.
The M-PESA pilot project is part of Vétérinaires Sans Frontières, Germanys emergency response program in Kenya, and more particularly, of its Response in Arid-lands for Pastoralists in Drought affected Kenya (RAPID) project. The objective for VSF-Germany is to conduct Cash For Work activities, and thanks to TSFs expertise, to remunerate the beneficiaries through the M-PESA system.
This is a five-month collaboration initiative; the program will end in March 2012 and will be implemented the Marsabit South district (Northern Kenya) in six specific villages and cities: Laisamis, Merille, Logologo, Kamboe, Lontolio and Koya. The goal of this project is to enhance food security for vulnerable households and protect livelihoods from the effect of the drought.
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Satellite communications and Global Positioning Systems are common battlefield tools for U.S. and coalition forces in todays overseas contingency operations. Occasionally, these tools can be hindered by space weather and solar activity.
To counter these unpredictable situations, the Air Force employs space liaison officers, embedded with combat forces, to train forces on how to effectively use these tools and to teach troops how to ensure these devices are as accurate as possible.
People always assume space is going to work and space is going to be there, said Capt. Bryony Veater, a space liaison officer and space weapons officer embedded with the 807th Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron. But when it doesnt work or when its not being optimized correctly for a mission, I can step in to help.
Veater is one of two SpaceLOs in Afghanistan and the first female to hold the position, she said. Veater is also a graduate of weapons school, which helps her integrate aspects of air and space.
In her SpaceLO role, she troubleshoots the tools that ground troops use daily.
Figuring out why a GPS isnt working, why a GPS isnt getting good accuracy and how to mitigate those effects or how to plan a mission around those effects is a key part of my job, said Veater, who is deployed from the 2nd Space Operations Squadron at Shriever Air Force Base, Colo. I also help them know what some of the alternatives are and understand some of the limitations and vulnerabilities of (satellite communications).
During her six-month tour here, she visited more than 15 locations in Regional Command South, Southwest and West, training Soldiers, Airmen and Marines as well as Italians, Lithuanians, British, Australians and Canadians on the tactical exploitation of space.
This task did not come without its fair share of challenges. Sometimes space can be very technical, so we have to speak (to) the knowledge of the audience, Veater said.
This task was increasingly difficult when she taught some coalition partners, who arent fluent in English.
Its a dual challenge with them because you have to make sure theyre understanding the actual words as well as the space effects youre trying to explain to them, she said.
As a SpaceLO, she also held an important role in mission planning. For example, she provides mission planners with predictions on when they can expect certain communications systems to be working better than others. Forecasting these effects enables mission planners to bring backup forms of communication or to ensure the affected communication system isnt their primary one.
When calling in precise locations, they need to know their GPS is accurate as its supposed to be, especially if theyre calling in munitions, said Veater, who is a Philadelphia native.
In the future, Veater foresees an integrated SpaceLO program aiding operations worldwide.
We hope to continue the SpaceLO program and continue to integrate space into the fight, she said. We hope this capability can expand to other combatant commands and support their operations.
Story by Staff Sgt. David Carbajal, 451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs