Changes continue at Joint Base Lewis-McChord
October 8, 2010
By Rich Bartell
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - A week has passed since Joint Base Lewis-McChord final operational capability began, and it\'s also been the first week of Network Enterprise Center support for telephone and computer networks on McChord Field.
The Air Force's 627th Communications Squadron worked hand-in-hand with NEC telephone and data experts to ensure service delivery on McChord Field.
In most respects, the computer and telephone services on McChord Field are the same as in the recent past, with one exception.
NEC's top administrators said that only a live-operator function has changed.
"Previously, there were operators available 24/7 on the McChord Field phone system. Now, live operators are available from (7 a.m. to 5 p.m.), Monday through Friday," said Amy Ridgeway, JBLM NEC director.
Those familiar with Lewis telephone services will recognize the automated operator phone service used on McChord Field weekends, holidays and all other non-business hours.
"Most people won't notice the changes in telephone or computer services on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. For most, it will be the same as before," said Lt. Col. Greg Davidson, an operations and planning officer with the Joint Integration Office.
Davidson explained the evolution of information technology service management developed for JBLM McChord Field.
"ITSM (computer and phone networks) standards adopted by DOD are based on Army service-wide standards. Of the 26 metrics created for ITSM, only one metric resulted in a changed standard for McChord - voice operators, he said.
"Most other phone and computer services will be similar to before," he said. "We arrived at these standards through Department of Defense guidance."
The common output level standards known as COLS were developed by a committee with representation from every service. The committee looked at current ITSM standards being used in business, government and industry. ITSM data was developed and compiled from many sources including joint bases to arrive at a standard. COLS for ITSM at joint bases were hammered out, approved at the senior levels of each service and then implemented," Davidson said.
"Formerly, when you dialed zero on McChord Field, you would get a live operator. Now that will only occur during weekday duty hours. It's the DOD standard," Davidson said.
According to Don Carden, NEC deputy director, the automated system is newly completed. As with anything new, the system may have a few wrinkles to iron out.
"If customers run into problems or would like to make any comments about the system, they can call 966-JBLM (5256). This is the service desk number and we want our customers to give us a call if there are problems," Carden said.
He said the automated system is menu driven and mirrors the system used on JBLM Lewis Main and North. Carden said some challenges were met in converting McChord Field to the NEC system.
"The big change is that the Army is now responsible for delivering telephone service to McChord Field as well as the extension of the Army network for Joint Base Lewis-McChord employees," Carden said.
"The biggest hurdle that we had to overcome was the establishment of the network topology to get the Army network extended to McChord Field as well as get the Air Force network extended to the Lewis side of the house. Working together with the 627th Communications Squadron, a virtual local area network was created and the collaboration of Army and Air Force technicians created a topology that saved several million of dollars," Carden said.
When computer or telephone repairs are required by JBLM support organizations on McChord Field, Carden said that chances are Airmen or former Air Force civilians will handle the call.
"Airmen formally from the 627th Communications Squadron will work for the JBLM Garrison. In most cases, when there is a problem with computer or Internet connectivity on McChord Field, there will be a person in an Air Force uniform working to correct the issue," Carden said.
Carden said that JBLM support organizations will not affect the mission side of McChord Field.
"On the mission side of the house, computers will be handled by 62nd Air Wing assets. NEC will be responsible for JBLM support organizations such as FMWR," Carden said.
According to Ridgeway, many former Air Force civilians are now working for the NEC.
"NEC is running a satellite facility at McChord Field. The people that worked there before the switch to NEC, will in most cases, continue to work on McChord Field," Ridgeway said. "We're in the process of hiring additional personnel to work as operators to handle the increased call volume."
Ridgeway said the Air Force Automated Health and Morale System will continue to function on McChord Field. The system known as AHAMS allows deployed Airmen a way to receive and track morale telephone calls from family members.
"The AHAMS will remain a feature on McChord Field for the foreseeable future," Ridgeway said.
She encouraged customers to use a little tolerance in dealing with the system.
"It will be an adjustment for some. I would ask for our customers have patience with us. Our goal is to provide the best service that we can for all of Joint Base Lewis-McChord," she said.
This article appeared in Joint Base Lewis-McChord's weekly newspaper, the Northwest Guardian.