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

December 3, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
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Maintaining links over a vast area requires a fast secure setup that allows coalition interoperability.

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.

At TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii, a panel featuring the U.S. Pacific Command’s -6s focused on some of those needs. Col. James Dillon, USMC, assistant chief of staff for G-6, Marine Forces Pacific, noted that most U.S. armed forces have become comfortable falling into forward operating bases with big pipes. While Marines often enter a theater and set up their links, the typhoon relief effort known as Operation Damayan illustrated that the Marines could have used a lightweight communications system that does not require a lot of lift or power.

“We want a system that provides the same level of communications, data storage and information exchange in a bandwidth challenged environment,” the colonel declared.

He also called for embedding ways of conserving bandwidth so that forces need not use appliqués for that task. Transmission systems should have built-in bandwidth compression, he offered.

Capt. Sandra Schiavo, USN, deputy director, N-6, U.S. Pacific Fleet, cited the need for network situational awareness—“our own cyber cop. It seems we’ve been working on that for a long time,” she observed. Col. Michael Finn II, USAF, director of communications and chief information officer, headquarters, U.S. Pacific Air Forces, reiterated an oft-stated point that a communications system must be able to establish a network with coalition partners who can dial in.




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