By Ms. Robin SchumacherDecember 17, 2018
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, MD (December 17, 2018) -- The US Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development, and Engineering Center (CERDEC) executed a program to develop the Common High-Assurance Internet Protocol Encryptor (HAIPE) Interoperable Manager for Efficient Remote Administration (CHIMERA) to solve one of the biggest challenges facing information assurance (IA) managers, network operators, and network enterprise center (NEC) personnel -- the inability to manage systems across the network from one location.
In 2016, CERDEC partnered with Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical's (PEO C3T) Project Lead Network Enablers (PL Net E) to transition the technology from a Science and Technology program to a full Acquisition Program. Based upon the team's efforts, CHIMERA has been tested, productized, and received full approval for fielding, and use on the Army Enterprise Network.
CERDEC started CHIMERA development as a research and development engineering test tool to meet the requirements for Network Operations (NETOPS) tool collapse. As part of the effort to standardize the Army cryptographic network, CERDEC discovered Soldiers were struggling to control, monitor, and maintain their secure networks. Units frequently have limited resources for network management so CERDEC developed a means to maximize those limited resources: this means became CHIMERA.
CHIMERA provides its key stakeholders with the ability to have maximum situational awareness for their cryptographic networks. In the past, they could only see a small portion of that network at any given time and had to physically switch between multiple, dissimilar platforms to piece together a full picture of their network. CHIMERA allows a full view of the network from one location on a single software platform, acting as a dashboard for configuration of National Security Agency (NSA) Type-1 defensive networking products that protect both unclassified and classified networks and assets.
CHIMERA Lead Patrick Doyle, CERDEC, describes the system's preventative maintenance features as a "check engine light" for the network. Without CHIMERA, IA managers and networking personnel have to physically visit individual systems to perform tasks including loading keys and checking on equipment health. This process of visiting systems tends to be a serious undertaking because, oftentimes, there is a single operator responsible for dozens if not hundreds of networking products. For the Department of Defense (DoD), and specifically the Army, this would often put soldiers in harm's way because these networking devices are required in active military zones and remote hazardous locations. However, CHIMERA squarely falls within the Force Protection realm as it allows the IA manager to administer all of their equipment from a single workstation in a safe environment.
Units and organizations who participated in the pilot fielding have had only positive things to say about the system. The team using the Korea Yongsan secure network praised CHIMERA's ability to let users manage their network from one spot "minimizing unnecessary movements." Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, has seen productivity increase by at least 20%. A Special Forces Command representative said, "CHIMERA continues to impress our J6 leadership. [The] software is rock solid and user friendly."
As part of the partnership between CERDEC and PEO C3T, PL Net E provides all programmatic documentation and funding and acts as the main decision authority on the CHIMERA configuration control board, which decides the priority requirements are given for implementation. CERDEC maintains developmental control of the product, ensuring CHIMERA continues to meet the Army's and other clients' needs.
Currently, the Army uses three vendors to provide HAIPE products. Each vendor's equipment requires its own workstation and licenses, costing the Army millions of dollars a year (other organizations within the DoD and Federal Government also encounter similar cost burdens). These purchases only pertain to the software itself: changes and Army requirements are not guaranteed and would cost extra money to implement. CHIMERA is a DoD-owned and -developed software solution that provides superior capability while retaining data rights for changes or additions, meaning the software (and changes to it) are free for any US Government organization that wishes to use CHIMERA. Furthermore, the overall management of CHIMERA is maintained by PEO C3T, not a third party vendor.
In August 2018, the Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM) Advanced Capability Engineering Directorate (ACED) completed a pilot of the CHIMERA technical solution and validated its capability to provide management of HAIPE devices from a single management platform in a central location. In October 2018, MG John Baker, Commanding General for NETCOM, directed the implementation of the CHIMERA solution into operations both in the Continental United States (CONUS) and Outside Continental United States (OCONUS). NETCOM will now solely use CHIMERA to manage its devices, rather than having multiple device managers. Looking ahead, PL Net E's Product Lead Communications Security, led by Mr. Michael Badger, is working through the Materiel Release process to expand CHIMERA's use to the Tactical Network.
Army Users responsible for managing Type-1 devices on the Army Enterprise Network can download their copy of CHIMERA and its associated training from the Cryptographic Modernization Portal located at: https://spcs.kc.army.mil/sites/cryptomodportal/default.aspx. Additional training modules are located on LandWarNet University.
The U.S. Army Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical develops, acquires, fields and supports the Army's mission command network to ensure force readiness. This critical Army modernization priority delivers tactical communications so commanders and Soldiers can stay connected and informed at all times, even in the most austere and hostile environments. PEO C3T is delivering the network to regions around the globe, enabling high-speed, high-capacity voice, data and video communications to a user base that includes the Army's joint, coalition and other mission partners.