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Diverse Special Operations Missions Mandate Diverse Networking

May 13, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman
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One size does not fit all for special forces information technology needs.

The U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is taking an unconventional approach to equipping its forces for an information environment that does not follow conventional guidelines. The command must provide networking for a theater force that can range from one person up through thousands of people, and it faces diverse mission needs that can require large communications pipes.

Col. John E. McLaughlin, USA, C-4 operations chief, SOCOM, explained these challenges to a Tuesday panel audience at AFCEA’s three-day Joint Information Environment (JIE) Mission Partner Symposium being held in Baltimore May 12-14. “We are expeditionary; we build from the tactical up through the garrison—not from the headquarters down,” he pointed out. Because deployments can be any size and with a varying information technology experience, the network must be simple, agile and responsive.

All operators require high-bandwidth services, he continued. These include full-motion videos and a Web portal presence, for example. Forces must be able to share information.

Network operations centers must be able to operate and maintain their area—“control their destiny,” the colonel emphasized. SOCOM is implementing tiered permission sets for contractors and personnel to execute on the network, he added.

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