By Allison Barrow, CERDEC Public AffairsJune 26, 2014
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (June 26, 2014) -- Army engineers are working to bring legacy cryptographic devices into the 21st century, saving time, money and effort on behalf of the user.
The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, or CERDEC, Army-Wide Cryptographic Network Standardization -- ACNS -- team has traveled to bases throughout the country as well as in the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Korea, and will head to Europe and Japan this summer in order to make logistically unsupportable End Cryptographic Units function for today's Army.
"Modernizing these antiquated ECUs saves the Army hundreds of thousands of dollars. It provides modern crypto equipment with enhanced security and capabilities at no cost to the customer," said Patrick Doyle, lead engineer for the In-line Network Encryptor team of the CERDEC Space and Terrestrial Communications Directorate Cryptographic Modernization Branch.
CERDEC's efforts support the ACNS initiative, an Army Network Enterprise Technology Command program to expedite delivery of modernized crypto products to the field. The program is led by Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical's Project Director Network Enablers.
The CERDEC team has modernized 33 military installations in the U.S., Marshall Islands and Republic of Korea since 2012. To date, 1,462 antiquated devices have been replaced with 879 modern units.
The modernization effort involves taking up to 17 legacy devices and replacing them with one unit. The CERDEC ACNS team performs site surveys before their field visits to prepare for the installation but will often face challenges in the field when encountering different interfaces or discrepancies in the types of networks and equipment available.
"It's an age of shrinking budgets, so you are not going to find a standard set of equipment in the field. For example, when I have my 'Network A at Installation A' it's not going to be the same as 'Network B at Installation B.' Each location has had a different budget over the years and some could only procure certain legacy equipment, while others may have been able to procure more modern equipment. The big thing is that no two networks are ever the same," Doyle said.
CERDEC engineers in the field work with the team back in the lab to troubleshoot issues. If the problem can't be solved up front in the field, the lab will recreate the problem and look for a solution then send their findings back.
"We travel and the lab provides great support. If we need anything they ship it down to us. If we need a new cable made, we can send them the pin-out that we need and they can make it in the lab. If we need a customized part, the lab can make it with the three-dimensional printer and send it out," said KimOanh Le, CERDEC S&TCD Link Encryption Family Team lead.
The CERDEC ACNS team would often manually update multiple devices one at a time, which could take up one to two hours of an engineer's time. Le found a more efficient solution by creating a mass updater that allows approximately 20 devices to be plugged in and automatically updated within an hour.
"With this effort there's increased workload for the depot (Tobyhanna Army Depot). The depot may have to upgrade, say, 400 units a month, which is a lot, because it used to be one unit with one person doing it for every hour. Now it's 22 [units] for one person for every hour," Doyle said.
The CERDEC ACNS team worked with its Defense Department and commercial partners to create a strategic five-year plan to modernize the rest of the Army, including outside the continental United States and in-theater circuits.
"The team is continually improving their processes to provide efficiencies and cost savings. This requires extensive coordination with numerous DOD and commercial partners in order to provide a seamless solution with the operational up time required by the units," said Matt Lazzaro, chief, CERDEC S&TCD Cryptographic Modernization Branch.
The CERDEC ACNS team supports and works closely with PEO C3T PD Network Enablers, the overall lead for the ACNS effort who conducts the requirements, procurement and acquisition of the legacy devices.
The team also includes Communications-Electronics Command's Tobyhanna Army Depot, which prepares and ships modern equipment to the sites, then demilitarizes the legacy devices when they are shipped back.
"ACNS gets the right equipment into the hands of Soldiers, frees them from the burden of retaining obsolete equipment and saves the taxpayer money in the process," said Robert Vik, Product Director, COMSEC Cryptographic Systems, PEO C3T PD Network Enablers. "CERDEC's technical acumen and systems engineering processes have made this program both successful and efficient."
The ACNS team not only works with Army installations but also services Navy, Air Force and National Guard units in need of assistance or who have Army equipment on hand. This summer they will continue to travel to bases across the East Coast, Europe, Japan and Republic of Korea to modernize legacy circuits.
The Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers.
RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness -- technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment -- to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.