ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (August 5, 2013) -- The Army has strengthened its ability to share critical data with its coalition partners with the fielding of coalition network equipment to South Korea.
"With the completion of this fielding effort, U.S. forces in South Korea are now fully equipped to manage all of the coalition network requirements in the field for brigade and division level operations," said Lt. Col. Joel Babbitt, product manager (PdM) for Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 1, which manages the U.S. portion of the coalition networks.
The Army's next step is to standardize and field network enclaves to perform a variety of missions worldwide, from military operations to homeland security and disaster relief, Babbitt said.
The Army finished fielding the last of its coalition network enclave packages in South Korea in early July to fill the requirements of an operational needs statement for that capability. With the new enclave equipment in place, the U.S. can take full advantage of its WIN-T Increment 1 systems in South Korea to quickly and seamlessly share voice, data, video and other information on the coalition network.
As the Army's missions evolve, it will continue to partner with other nations. The ability to securely and efficiently exchange information and share resources is critical to mission success, Babbitt said.
"The coalition network enclaves let us do that, so we can enable commanders to operate with our partners as a singular, well-informed force," he said.
The Army began fielding WIN-T Increment 1, formerly known as the "Joint Network Node Network," in 2004 to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. WIN-T Increment 1 provides high-speed, high-capacity network communications down to battalion level units, at-the-quick-halt. WIN-T Increment 2, which is currently being deployed to Afghanistan, improves upon these technologies by providing Soldiers with an integrated network that supports mission command on-the-move and reaches down to the company level. WIN-T Increment 2 can also operate on the coalition networks.
The shared network in South Korea is similar to the coalition network that exists in Afghanistan, which is referred to as the Afghan Mission Network (AMN). Like AMN, the coalition network in South Korea enables the coalition to exchange critical operational information. From their respective secure networks, and at their individual discretion, separate nations can share data, situational awareness and commander's intent across the theater of operations on this centralized network. The Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System (CENTRIXS) - International Security Assistance Force (CX-I) in Afghanistan, and CX--Korea (CX-K) in South Korea, are the U.S. branches of these respective coalition networks.
Prior to fielding CX-K last year, PM WIN-T had already been fulfilling the Army's requirements for WIN-T Increment 1 equipment in South Korea. This equipment included the unclassified Non-secure Internet Protocol Router and classified Secure Internet Protocol Router network enclaves. The PM then fielded the coalition network enclave to enable the WIN-T Increment 1 equipment to operate on the South Korean coalition network. The coalition network enclave is similar in design to the classified and unclassified network enclaves, so it was easily integrated.
When fielding CX-I in Afghanistan three years ago, the Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications-Tactical, to which PM WIN-T is assigned, validated a $7.275 million cost avoidance in fiscal year 2011. This cost avoidance occurred by reusing displaced or "end of life" equipment to meet requirements for the CX-I operational needs statement, other programs and initiatives. Reusing equipment allowed PdM WIN-T Increment 1 to rapidly field CX-I to units in theater and meet deployment timelines. PM WIN-T again reutilized equipment and resources from previous requirements that were no longer needed in other arenas. It leveraged those resources for the CX-K effort, thus yielding additional cost avoidance of $5.876 million.
As part of an Army network modernization directive, PdM WIN- T Increment 1 is now creating a new standard network enclave. Instead of having different coalition network enclaves, such as CX-I and CX-K, for separate mission requirements, the Army will be able to utilize this standard enclave for many different applications, including homeland security and disaster relief missions within U.S. borders. U.S. forces will be able to utilize the network enclave to communicate with forces that do not reside on secure U.S. military networks, said Anton Antomattei, Extensions Group deputy for WIN-T Increment 1 and coalition enclave project lead.
The proof of concept for the standardized network enclave is scheduled to be evaluated at the Army's Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 14.2 in the spring of 2014. The 86th Expeditionary Signal Battalion will evaluate the equipment and offer feedback. The PdM will utilize the NIE feedback to improve capability, which aligns with the Army's intent for the NIEs. Improvements in technology will also allow PdM WIN-T Increment 1 to decrease the enclave's size, weight and power requirements.
Both CX-I and CX-K network enclaves, and eventually the standardized network enclave, enable secure communication exchange with coalition partners and ultimately with other entities as missions require, Antomattei said.
"Whether on the battlefield or in a disaster relief situation, good communication is essential to any mission and helps keep people safe," Antomattei said.