Fort Huachuca, Arizona -- Born out of the Cold War, a legacy exists within the U.S. Army Information Systems Engineering Command (USAISEC) that serves to emphasize the seriousness of the work performed at USAISEC and beyond.

The year is 1962, and the President of the United States of America, John F. Kennedy is working to defend America from the communist threat. Chairman Nikita Khrushchev leader of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), decides to strategically position bombers, missiles, and military assets in Cuba, only 110 miles off the coast of Florida. As President Kennedy and his staff begin to assess the situation, the threat looms over the heads of the American public. The world is on the precipice of destruction. Two nuclear superpowers are poised and ready to unleash the specter of nuclear holocaust.

President Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy realize they have no reliable means of communications with the USSR. They correspond through delayed, non-repudiated messages between ambassadors and diplomatic actions outpaced by the unfolding events of the Cuban missile crisis. The U.S. increases their Defense Condition in response to the actions taken by the USSR. This crisis identifies the need for the development of the Direct Communications Link (DCL) with Moscow and Washington, providing the leaders with a trusted, point-to-point means of communication. The DCL, the "Hotline to Moscow," has been used successfully throughout its 56 years of operation for all matters sensitive to the two world leaders.

How did it start?

Established in August of 1963, though incorrectly portrayed as two red phones, the DCL began with a cable link from the Pentagon in Washington to the Kremlin in Moscow using a low-data-rate teletype platform. Eight years later, in September of 1971, an upgrade of the existing DCL was signed, outlining the replacement of the adaptive high frequency radio backup and cable system with a satellite communications system. From this requirement, the Defense Satellite Communications System tasked the United States Army Communication Electrical Engineering Installation Agency, now known as (USAISEC, to engineer, furnish, install, and test the Digital Communications Subsystem and Technical Control Facility. By 1972, two,60-foot antennas that track two highly elliptical orbit satellites, INTELSAT IV and MOLINYA II, to be built at Fort Detrick, Maryland, were developed and put out for contract. The endeavor went fully-operational in 1978.

For the next 41 years, USAISEC continued supporting the DCL antennas and all upgrades every 10 years at Fort Detrick. The teletype platform, was upgraded to computer facsimile operations in 1985, then modernized to scan/disk transfer capabilities in 1995. In the early 2000s, USAISEC was given the opportunity to take on more responsibility of the Senior National Leadership Communications (SNLC) network by supporting the DCL and Nuclear Risk Reduction Center (NRRC) Department of State's Government-to-Government Communications Link (GGCL) with the next system upgrade. The NRRC is a communication system with the Russian Ministry of Defence and Former Soviet Republic countries and was designed to diminish and eliminate the potential threat of a nuclear disaster by supporting the exchange of intergovernmental weapons treaty messages.

The NRRC served as an extremely valuable bilateral means of communication following the tumultuous terrorist attacks of 9/11. In 2002, USAISEC presented engineering prototypes for a complete system modernization to the U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), the Army's CIO/G6 and the Project Manager, Defense Communications and Army Transmission Systems (PM DCATS). USAISEC's design was approved and implemented on the DCL and GGCL. Completing the task in 2007, the current configuration uses modified commercial-off-the-shelf software, serial encryptors, and time division multiplexing. The DCL and GGCL are now part of the larger SNLC program, providing the President of the United States, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and other U.S. National Leadership, as determined by the National Security Council, with direct, secure, reliable communications with counterparts from other foreign governments to assist with the prevention of nuclear war, resolve misunderstandings and regional security issues, reduce the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction, and coordinate on the international war on terrorism.

Partnered with PM DCATS, DISA and the Army CIO/G6, Team Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM) has evolved to fully engineer, sustain, and provide a secure, survivable, robust network, maintaining the 99.99% availability requirement for all SNLC systems. USAISEC and Tobyhanna Army Depot (TYAD) completed the engineering, install, and implementation of a newly integrated fiber optic link at Fort Detrick, fully optimizing the SNLC network with a secure high speed local area network. In addition, TYAD and USAISEC are supporting the earth terminal upgrade at Fort Detrick with the disposal of the current antennas followed by site preparations for the new antennas in 2020. USAISEC is providing support as the lead engineer to transition sustainment of fielded SNLC systems to the U.S. Army Integrated Logistics Support Center, bringing unparalleled sustainment. USAISEC is working with CECOM's Software Engineering Center (SEC) to bring efficient and sustainable Army-built software solutions to the end user platforms for both nations, beginning with a SEC-developed chat software suite. USAISEC recently completed a major milestone in the modernization of the 2007 system this year with a successful fielding and test from Washington to Moscow, utilizing High Assurance Internet Protocol Encryptors and a Multiprotocol Label Switching backbone on both the DCL and GGCL.

Team CECOM is proud to lead the way on this program, supporting the Army's lead military department on SNLC, with outstanding performance and unrivaled dedication, pride, and selflessness. This collaborative effort ensures that our senior leaders always have an open, reliable line of communications no matter the state of global affairs.

All of CECOM sees Army readiness as Job #1.