Technicians upgrade global communications system
Steven Smith, lead technician, tests a radio component of the Combat Service Support Automated Information Systems Interface. Smith and other technicians at Tobyhanna Army Depot are preparing and testing system upgrade kits.

TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, PA. - A global communications system used by the armed forces is now lighter, more compact and more capable.

Tobyhanna technicians are upgrading thousands of Combat Service Support Automated Information Systems Interface, or CAISI.

CAISI was fielded in the mid 1990s and provides secure, encrypted wireless and wired local data communications system that works via Local Area Networks and satellites to provide global access to the military Internet. Components include laptop computers, radios, routers, modems and power supplies.

CAISI is used to protect and transport data by Forward Repair Activities, Brigade Support Battalions, Sustainment Brigades, Combat Service Support Battalions, Theater Commands, Sustainment Commands, Brigade Combat Teams, and other support units from company up to theater areas of operation, says Steven Smith, electronic digital computer mechanic and CAISI lead technician.

The new CAISI 2.0 upgrade supports the warfighter not only by being lighter and more compact than the previous 1.1 version, but also incorporates Wireless Protected Access network connectivity, onboard advanced encryption and two internal radios that can be configured for an access point or a bridge.

An access point is a communication hub for users of a wireless device to connect to a wired distribution system, such as an Ethernet network. Access points also play a major role in providing better wireless security and control of users in the shared radio environment, Smith explained.

A bridge is a device that connects two networks that may use the same or a different Data Link Layer protocol.

"CAISI can act as a bridge, an access point and a repeater all functioning at once, which makes the new CAISI 2.0 lighter, faster and more reliable," Smith said. "And with the new configuration, it makes an almost unlimited number of connections whether it is using directional antennas or satellites. It provides STAMIS (Standard Army Management Information System) clients and servers with wired and wireless secure network connectivity for all current state -of-the art STAMIS and Combat Service Support satellite systems worldwide."

"CAISI 1.1 had two modules for wireless communications in the field," said Jerry Dougher, chief, Command, Control and Computer Systems Division. "Version 2.0 has just one module. We're preparing about 100 upgrade kits per month." The division is part of the depot's Command, Control and Computer Systems/Avionics Directorate.

The preparation process includes configuring routers, upgrading software and then configuring default settings for the radios, routers and modems.

"We then test the system; if it passes, it's fielded, where further configuration takes place to customize a system to optimize them to the needs of particular units," said Tom Yankosky, electronics worker.

Software upgrades include the CAISI laptops, which are 'imaged' by depot technicians, meaning the hard drives are loaded with upgraded software, noted Dennis Redding, chief of the division's Computer Service and Repair Branch.

"The software includes anti-virus and other security data," he said.

Because not all CAISI 1.0 versions have been replaced, technicians are also testing those systems that come back to Tobyhanna to keep components in stock for extra parts.

"We're also still supporting that system for units in the field until they have all been replaced with the upgrade," Dougher said.

Tobyhanna Army Depot is the Defense Department's largest center for the repair, overhaul and fabrication of a wide variety of electronics systems and components, from tactical field radios to the ground terminals for the defense satellite communications network. Tobyhanna's missions support all branches of the Armed Forces.

About 5,600 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania.

Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army CECOM Life Cycle Management Command. Headquartered at Fort Monmouth, N.J., the command's mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the Armed Forces.

Page last updated Tue October 5th, 2010 at 08:56