The Department of the Army's Product Manager for Installation Information Infrastructure Modernization Program (PdM I3MP) completed a network modernization project during the third quarter of 2018 at the U.S. Army Pine Bluff Arsenal, located in Jefferson County, Ark.
"Pine Bluff Arsenal's network switches were seven years old and the manufacturer no longer supported some of the switches," said Josh Mizell, IT specialist with Pine Bluff Arsenal's Directorate of Information Management.
Pine Bluff Arsenal provides America's Joint Warfighter with specialized ammunition; smoke and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense capabilities through expert manufacturing, storage and logistics. Pine Bluff is one of nine Army installations in the United States that previously stored chemical weapons until 2010.
"The Army is fixing the network switches at installations that have reached the end of their lifecycle to enable the current fight and to prepare for the next fight," said Col. Enrique Costas, the Project Manager for Defense Communications and Army Transmission Systems (PM DCATS). "At Pine Bluff Arsenal, improving the network infrastructure improves the Army's readiness to win the fight tonight." Col. Costas manages strategic satellite and terrestrial communications programs that support the Army, Joint Services, National Command Authority, and combatant commanders.
"Readiness remains the Army's priority one," said Kevin Chinn, the acting deputy product manager for PdM I3MP. "The Pine Bluff network modernization project supports Army readiness by modernizing, streamlining, standardizing, and hardening the Army network."
Chinn's integrated project team, known as Network Modernization -- CONUS or NETMOD-C, upgrades networks by installing 10 Gbps switches and routers at Army installations within the continental United States to improve the overall Army network.
"As network switches reach the end of their product life, the Army is following Industry best practices to increase the capacity of the enterprise network transport," Chinn explained. "This improvement assures sufficient bandwidth for Unified Communications services, such as Voice over Internet Protocol, Instant Messaging, and Video Tele-Conferencing."
These network modernizations increase the efficiency, security, predictability, and reliability of the network to ensure Soldiers have sufficient bandwidth to complete their mission.
James Cox, Product Team Leader for PdM-I3MP, worked with Mizell to the set conditions for success. They traveled to Fort Rucker, Ala., for technical exchange on the implementation of the end-user building switches. "I received ideas and information through on the job observation that allowed me to prepare Pine Bluff Arsenal for our implementation," said Mizell. "By seeing the Fort Rucker project first hand, I was able to better understand the moving parts and everyone's role during this mass upgrade.
These technical exchanges are one of the lessons learned from years of performing network modernizations at Army installations within the continental United States. "The technical exchange between Pine Bluff Arsenal and Fort Rucker was very beneficial and allowed Pine Bluff Arsenal to have one of the most successful implementation projects," said Cox.
During the implementation at Pine Bluff, Cox arranged a technical exchange with two network administrators from McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, Okla. "During our implementation, McAlester Army Ammunition Plant was getting ready to go through the NETMOD-C project," said Mizell. "We were able to provide them with helpful information and lessons learned from both our project and Fort Rucker's project."
Mizell said making the connections and gaining knowledge was the most beneficial part of the project. "Overall, this program is helpful in many ways, but one of the most beneficial to me was making connections with other network administrators from other sites that face similar obstacles or achievements within the Army's network," he said. "These connections will be beneficial for years to come."