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Technology Delivers Agility For Combat Commanders

December 2006
By Capt. Dave Munichiello, USAF

 
The everything over Internet protocol (EoIP) solution promises improved efficiency while supporting more end users than legacy equipment. The circuit-based telephony setup requires 238 more cubic feet and six more people than EoIP architecture.
Size, weight, cost and personnel concerns amplify demand for communications system built on flexible framework.

More rapidly deployable, reliable, secure and capable communications systems are defining the next generation of communications gear for both the U.S. Defense Department and industry. One improved capability, which supports military contingencies as well as national emergencies, is based on a command and control package that incorporates everything over Internet protocol.

The Small Command and Control over Internet Protocol (SC2IP) package, pronounced skip, extends communications services from the Global Information Grid (GIG) to the warfighter through Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) teleports. Everything over Internet Protocol (EoIP) technology enables bulky legacy circuit switches and serial cabling to be replaced by slimmer Internet protocol (IP) switches, routers and Ethernet cabling.

The Joint Communications Support Element (JCSE), which as a core competency provides operational agility to combatant commanders and their joint task forces, is the organization behind this innovation. It has conducted thousands of hours of engineering and testing during the past 18 months to finalize the development, accreditation and certification of this communications architecture. The JCSE is a joint airborne unit postured to provide joint task force and joint special operations task force communications. It is headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, and falls under the U.S. Joint Forces Command.

In the past six months, the Joint Staff has operationally tasked the newly certified system to support classified missions in Iraq, civilian agencies during national emergencies, the recent noncombatant evacuation operation mission in Cyprus and other U.S. and foreign missions worldwide. Based on these operational successes, units throughout the Defense Department are acquiring and employing SC2IP technology to meet the rigorous demands and time lines of their missions.

The JCSE’s innovation has been certified by a myriad of Defense Department approval authorities. SC2IP went through extensive information assurance and system security accreditation testing by DISA’s Field Security Office in December 2005. Once the equipment had passed every test, the JCSE took it to the Joint Interoperability Test Command in February 2006 for four weeks of in-depth interoperability analysis. SC2IP and the corresponding GIG-Entry architecture became the department’s first EoIP package to be interoperability-certified by the Joint Staff. This official certification coupled with DISA’s security assessment resulted in the first approval to operate granted to an EoIP system.

The JCSE’s architecture was engineered from the “pointy end backward,” optimizing the tactical package for simplicity and reduced cube and footprint. The SC2IP design is in line with DISA’s concept of converged network services. Each Defense Information Systems Network (DISN) data service is hardware-encrypted and tunneled through a single converged private network. The voice over Internet protocol network exists in the secure convergence network and is unaffected by data services. This merging of services ensures both simplicity and security for tactical users.

SC2IP’s design is simple because each service can be extended in the same modular manner. Whether the tactical operator is providing customers with the nonsecure Internet protocol router network (NIPRNET), secret Internet protocol router network (SIPRNET) or Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System or with another organization-specific network, only one small transit case, the correct keymat and some Ethernet cabling are needed to connect users to an additional network.

The system is secure because each service is separated by a Type 1 High Assurance Internet Protocol Encryptor Interoperability Specification-compliant device. Disruptions on any single network cannot affect the convergence network or any other service. As a result, anomalies or security breaches on NIPRNET do not affect the user’s command and control (C2) systems, such as the SIPRNET, video teleconferencing and the Defense Red Switch Network, or even the nonsecure voice network. The SC2IP design provides for the same separation of services and isolation of vulnerabilities that exist in the circuit-based/legacy environment, but it takes advantage of drastic reductions in cost, personnel and size of EoIP.

SC2IP is small enough to fit into a sport utility vehicle, yet it is capable of supporting 40 to 60 users with the Defense Switched Network, DISN Video Systems–Global, NIPRNET and SIPRNET as well as video teleconferencing and other services within minutes. Its size allows the system to be checked as baggage on commercial aircraft and transported worldwide. This global agility, coupled with the communications capability that it brings to the fight, has made SC2IP the preferred communications system for the JCSE and many other organizations, including special operations forces teams worldwide.

 
 
Small enough to fit into a standard-size SUV, SC2IP can be set up
in minutes. Operators can support multiple networks because of the modular nature of the system.
The first employment of an EoIP solution outside of internal JCSE testing was the SC2IP architecture used during Bright Star, a joint coalition training exercise conducted in Egypt in May 2006. During this exercise, JCSE operators proved the SC2IP concept by providing seamless communications support to U.S. dignitaries at a joint visitors bureau. The application of this new technology not only highlighted the success of the JCSE’s system but also underscored the interoperability and versatility of SC2IP’s design. The ability to interoperate with legacy circuit-switching equipment, other IP solutions, strategic infrastructure and coalition-specific networks has become the hallmark of the SC2IP communications capability.

The Defense Department’s requirement for SC2IP was demonstrated almost immediately following Joint Staff certification of the system. In April 2006, the secretary of defense signed the Defense Support to Civil Authorities execution order, specifically calling on the unique capabilities of the JCSE SC2IP. This execution order tasks SC2IP and the team that operates it to deploy rapidly via commercial aircraft and to provide secure/nonsecure voice, data and video teleconference connectivity as well as commercial voice and Internet access for up to 60 personnel. The system functions as an early-entry C2 node assisting civilian agencies during national emergencies. JCSE personnel remain on standby around the clock to support the tasking. This near-immediate operational requirement for SC2IP validated months of work by the JCSE and postured the innovation as the primary system responsible for rapid enablement of C2 communications during a manmade or natural disaster in the U.S. Northern, Southern and Pacific commands’ areas of responsibility.

The JCSE partnered with DISA and the combatant commands to install SC2IP’s corresponding reach-back architecture into teleports worldwide and to tie deployed EoIP packages into the circuit-based DISN. This reach-back architecture offers global coverage from four locations: the Wahiawa Teleport, Hawaii; the Lago Patria Teleport, Italy; the Northwest Teleport, Virginia; and Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar.

The Central Command reach-back architecture extends to three coalition networks in addition to DISN services, allowing the JCSE to provide communications to coalition partners as well as U.S. forces. This system, currently called the Teleport GIG Entry Suite-C, will coexist with the teleport’s Internet protocol resources until next year when the Teleport Program Office will use the JCSE’s architecture as the model for its Teleport Internet Protocol Generation III architecture in accordance with DISA’s GIG Convergence Master Plan, the fiscal year 2006–2011 Strategic Planning Guidance and the fiscal year 2004 National Military Strategy.

SC2IP packages currently are in high demand by combatant commands and other organizations worldwide. The Central Command holds the reins of one SC2IP slated as a quick reaction force communications provider. Collocated with the Central Command’s forward headquarters, this SC2IP is on alert posture and ready to establish near-immediate C2 anywhere in the area of responsibility.

Earlier this year, when the Defense Department assisted the noncombatant evacuation operation in Cyprus to evacuate Americans from Lebanon, a JCSE SC2IP team arrived in country ahead of the headquarters personnel they were tasked to support and was able to provide seamless communications within 18 hours of initial notification. A handful of other SC2IP systems are operationally engaged, supporting special operations forces in multiple locations across Iraq.

The JCSE is continuing to expand SC2IP’s utility. At the Joint Interoperability Test Command Joint Users Interoperability Communications Exercise 2006, the JCSE demonstrated that by adding a few cases of equipment, SC2IP could become a medium Internet protocol package capable of supporting up to 300 users simultaneously. This larger system, still in the certification process, includes two simultaneous satellite links to two different Teleport GIG-Entry Suite-C sites. The architecture of the medium Internet protocol package was engineered to ensure complete redundancy. If any component experiences catastrophic failure, the system continues to support users without interruption.

In addition to the medium package, the JCSE has worked with a commercial vendor to design an even smaller, integrated version of the SC2IP called the Quad-4. This package fits in the overhead compartment of an airplane as carry-on luggage and is able to access services through either a small Ku-band antenna or bonded Inmarsat channels. Additional JCSE endeavors include comprehensive wireless service to the user, mobile wireless communications, airborne communications platform advancements and a variety of manportable server suites.

SC2IP architecture and technology are open standards and are available to any U.S. government user via the JCSE Systems Acquisitions (J-5) Directorate. The JCSE’s four GIG-Entry Suite-C systems provide global coverage and are available to support others requiring the same separation of services and threat isolation as the DISA Generation III architecture.

The transition to EoIP technology has been swift for the JCSE. The unit has proved that this new technology, when employed properly, enables communicators to provide agility to commanders by establishing C2 anywhere in the world in a matter of hours.

Capt. David C. Munichiello, USAF, is command, control, communications, computers and intelligence planning team officer in charge, Joint Communications Support Element, U.S. Joint Forces Command.

 

Web Resources
Joint Communications Support Element: www.jcse.mil
Defense Information Systems Agency: www.disa.mil