Search:  

 Blog     e-Newsletter       Resource Library      Directories      Webinars
AFCEA logo
 

Battlespace Information Systems

Necessity Drives Joint Information Environment

July 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The shrinking military cannot achieve mission success without the advances promised by the Joint Information Environment, U.S. Defense Department leaders say. Yet the effort itself depends on innovative advances that may lead to changes in doctrine and operations if—and when—they are incorporated into the force.

No clear technology or architecture has emerged to define the JIE. While the military has a goal in mind, it also recognizes that information technologies and capabilities are evolving faster than planners can predict. The commercial sector, which could serve as a fount of ideas for defense networking, itself is structuring its strategies to accommodate unforeseen changes. Different parts of the defense and intelligence communities have their own nonnegotiable requirements for JIE participation.

Different organizations and disciplines strive to break down silos and give the Defense Department its JIE. Leading defense communicators agree that the force cannot prevail in future operations without a single information environment, but they must ensure that it does not ignore the specific needs of some individual elements within the defense community.

Many of these issues were discussed at AFCEA’s three-day JIE Mission Partner Symposium held May 12-14 in Baltimore. Overflow crowds heard speakers and panelists from government, the military and industry discuss the need for the JIE and the challenges that stand in the way of its implementation.

U.S. military forces will not be able to pursue operational goals successfully unless the JIE is implemented, according to a member of the Joint Staff. Lt. Gen. Mark S. Bowman, J-6, The Joint Staff, was unambiguous in his assessment of the JIE’s importance.

Network Complexities Challenge Army, Force Structure Changes

July 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The complexities of the U.S. Army’s networks and spectrum allocation processes interfere with the need to reassign units to different tasks, creating major delays and presenting serious challenges.

Enabling En Route Communications Aboard Large Transport Aircraft

May 1, 2014
By Lt. Col. Jan Norris, USA, 
and Whitney Katz

The ability to communicate en route directly with ground elements during an airborne theater insertion has taken a giant leap forward with a communications system boarding a C-17 Globemaster III. A long-distance deployment across the vast Asia-Pacific region has opened the door to en route command and control over secure or unsecure links.

The Air Force Networks its Networks

May 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Air Force networking that links its air assets has extended its reach into the rest of the service and the joint realm as it moves a greater variety of information among warfighters and decision makers. This builds on existing networking efforts, but it also seeks to change longtime acquisition habits that have been detrimental to industry—and, by connection, to the goal of speeding innovative capabilities to the warfighter.

The Air Force has broadened some of its research to apply to other networks such as the Joint Information Environment (JIE). One vital effort is the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node, or BACN. It provides airborne links aboard crewed and unmanned aircraft, and future iterations may take the form of pods attached to combat aircraft. Other networks and capabilities are being developed or expanded.

This method is in line with the overall Defense Department approach to networking. “We’re starting to think much more ‘system of systems,’ but we need to graduate to ‘enterprise of enterprises,’” says Dr. Tim Rudolph, chief technology officer (CTO) at the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center. “It is that much of an integration of different features of different platforms.”

Rudolph also supports the Program Executive Officer (PEO) Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Networks (C3I&N) as CTO and chief architect, and he is a senior leader/technical adviser for integrated information capabilities. He explains that networking air assets includes domains such as terrestrial, space and cyber.

“Networking is like plumbing,” Rudolph analogizes. “Most people don’t hire plumbers because they like cast iron or copper [pipes]; they do it because they want to move something through the pipes.” The Joint Aerial Layer Network (SIGNAL Magazine, June 2013, page 52, “Joint Aerial Layer…”) provides a construct that allows a great deal of interoperability among assets in various domains, he observes.

What Worked in War, What Lies Ahead

May 1, 2014
BY Rita Boland

Technologies including voice over Internet protocol, high-definition video and satellite communications altered the battlefield during years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but as combat operations draw to a close, different challenges are emerging. Technical, fiscal and personnel changes all are shifting, forcing decision makers to reevaluate activities.

The military is in a transition period, and U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) is at the heart of the shift. Funding and human resources will be far more limited than in the past decade. Communications experts have put powerful capabilities in place in the command’s region, but the retrograde and alterations in operations mean different methods of employing and understanding them are necessary.

Brig. Gen. John Baker, USA, J-6, CENTCOM, has overseen a series of changes in the area of responsibility and in garrison during his tenure, including a tremendous expansion in the use of voice over Internet protocol (VoIP)/everything over Internet protocol. The move has been a significant advantage, he explains. In addition to that massive alteration in infrastructure came the deployment of black core measures throughout the region. Results of the changes included bandwidth savings with improved security for users. Gen. Baker states that putting black core into theater allows people to employ bandwidth better and with more agility.

The benefits are important as CENTCOM communicators have extended their networks significantly, especially in embassies, to help support security cooperation officers. With the exceptions of Syria and Iran, the United States has an embassy in every country in the command’s area, all of which now connect through VoIP services.

Manportable Radio System Combines Night Sight and Sound

April 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

Warfighters on foot equipped with night vision systems now can give their commanders a real-time glimpse of what they’re seeing in the field. A new system that combines a portable radio with night vision goggles allows the optical imagery to be captured and sent across the same radio channels used for voice and data communications.

Each piece of hardware—the portable radio and the night vision system—is in service with the armed forces of several countries around the world. Engineers basically combined the two functions to produce a single system that allows commanders to remotely view a night scene from the warfighter’s eye view accompanied with geolocation information.

Known as the Individual Soldier System (ISS) and manufactured by Exelis Incorporated, the new system combines a software suite with existing hardware. These three major subsystems generate a two-way imaging capability that also allows the warfighter to view imagery relayed by headquarters.

The i-Aware Tactical Mobility Night Vision Goggle (TM-NVG) optical system features an overlay display that enables mobility information to be viewed by its wearer. It weighs less than 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) and can run on one lithium AA battery. An intensified camera inside the goggle set allows command and control personnel to view live imagery from the field.

The company’s SpearNet team member radio serves as the transmission device for the TM-NVG. The 1.5-pound radio operates in the 1.2-1.4 gigahertz band, and it can network with satellite communications and long-range radio systems. Information from the TM-NVG system can be sent across the SpearNet self-healing mesh network, which in turn can display visual tactical information such as maps and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) video.

Customs and Border Protection Not Interested in Mobility for Mobility's Sake

March 10, 2014
George I. Seffers

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency is only interested in mobile communication if it allows the agency to perform functions it could not perform otherwise, Mark Borkowski, component acquisition executive and assistant commissioner with the CBP Office of Technology Innovation and Acquisition, told the audience at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C., on Monday.

Multiple Elements Come Together to Aid Philippines Typhoon Response

February 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The success of Operation Damayan, the massive Philippines typhoon relief effort by the U.S. Pacific Command, owes as much to preparation as to execution, according to a U.S. official involved in the operation. Military communications equipment designed for easy entry and quick activation provided essential networking capabilities. Longtime multinational and bilateral exercises laid the groundwork for interoperability, both technological and organizational, between U.S. and Philippine armed forces. 

Teamed Acquisition the Way Ahead for Defense Information Technology

December 5, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Future defense information technology is likely to focus on a set of services instead of specific elements. Accordingly, bidders likely will consist of industry teams bringing diverse expertise to the acquisition table.

Weight, Power Issues Vex U.S. Pacific Force Communications

December 3, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

An increasing number of missions combined with more diverse settings offer a major challenge to establishing needed communications throughout the Asia-Pacific region. U.S. forces cannot count on having necessary communications links in place with they respond to a new mission, noted a panel of military officers.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Battlespace Information Systems