New Army policy provides communications security solutions
Sgt. Justin Green (left) and Pfc. Michael Moore (right) program a simple key loader to allow their radios to communicate securely between vehicles during a detail in Baghdad, Iraq, July 20, 2009.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (March 22, 2012) - A new policy established by Army acquisition officials for the procurement and deployment of all communications security (COMSEC) technologies will help ensure that critical information does not fall into the wrong hands.

Under the new COMSEC Management Policy, which was signed by Army Acquisition Executive Heidi Shyu on March 1, Project Director COMSEC will be responsible for leading the effort to procure and field the capabilities that secure and encrypt data on the Army's tactical network. The policy will affect a wide range of Army tactical communications technologies, ranging from radars to blue-force tracking systems.

The new policy requires all program offices that use COMSEC technology to participate in the semi-annual PD COMSEC Integration Integrated Process Team (IPT) forums. The next IPT forum is scheduled for March 27-29 at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

At the forums, representatives from PD COMSEC address COMSEC integration-related challenges, and share innovative approaches and lessons-learned, with government and industry partners and Army platform integrators. The integrators can use this information as they determine the most effective ways to build COMSEC features into their future capabilities.

"PD COMSEC enables increased effectiveness and efficiency by providing critical COMSEC subject matter expertise to platform program managers so that they can make informed program decisions," said Chris Manning, project director for COMSEC, which is assigned to the Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T).

Under the new policy, all 11 Army program executive offices will coordinate with PD COMSEC on the planning, use and management of COMSEC components and systems. By centralizing these technologies under one organization, the Army creates a focal point for program offices and system integrators to access COMSEC expertise.

Through the convergence of COMSEC systems, the burden on Soldiers to find and distribute key material to send communications will be reduced, said Lt. Col. Eric Betts, deputy project director for COMSEC.

"Soldiers will find their communications seamlessly secure, and the transition of communications between different cryptographic systems will be invisible to the average user," Betts said.

Since PD COMSEC was chartered in September 2010, the organization has realized more than $60 million in cost savings and avoidance, with much of these savings being passed on to platform integrators, Manning said.

As part of these savings, PD COMSEC is leading an Army-wide effort to realize efficiencies and streamline the procurement and deployment of COMSEC equipment for the operational force.

The effort, which began in 2011, involves a detailed, Army-wide equipment assessment in order to plan COMSEC purchases over several years. PD COMSEC will field the reserve of COMSEC equipment that has already been manufactured to provide Soldiers modernized devices, while at the same time aligning future purchases so they meet the Army's longer-term priorities.

"As the Army's network becomes more advanced and diverse, we have a need to ensure that our communications security solutions are synchronized," Betts said.

Page last updated Thu March 22nd, 2012 at 00:00