ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Maryland (October 17, 2019) -- In an ongoing effort to modernize the Army's network capabilities, Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical's (PEO C3T) Project Lead Network Enablers (PL Net E) is conducting a Simple Key Loader (SKL) Turn-In and Exchange Program for units all over the world.
The SKL is a hand-held device that Soldiers use to load cryptographic keys onto their equipment; thereby, enabling secure communication. The legacy SKL V1 and V2 are now obsolete, due to their limited capabilities, and are being removed from the field -- primarily through the Turn-In and Exchange Program managed by PL Net E's Product Lead Communications Security (PdL COMSEC) whose responsibility is to develop, procure, test, field and sustain COMSEC solutions to protect the tactical network.
The main objective of the program is to collect legacy devices still in the field, which will reduce vulnerabilities associated with using older equipment, and replacing them with the new SKL V3.1. PL Net E coordinates the shipment of the collected devices back to the Tobyhanna Army Depot (TYAD), who then marks them for demilitarization and disposal. The issuing of the newer equipment continues to push the Army forward by deploying modern capabilities that are easy to use, resilient and hardened to protect against adversarial cyber threats. To date, the team has issued over 10,000 SKL V3.1s.
The Turn-In and Exchange Program is a coordinated effort with the U.S. Army Forces Command, National Guard, U.S. Army Reserve, Communications Security Logistics Activity (CSLA) and TYAD. "The SKL V3.1 Exchange Program schedule is developed in accordance with the Department of the Army Master Priority List, with the focus on deploying units and high priority missions. However, this doesn't account for units that are not on the priority list that need modern or replacement SKLs," said Mr. Scott Lambert, PdL COMSEC SKL Assistant Product Manager.
PdL COMSEC and CSLA came together and developed a strategy to address the backlog of units requiring upgraded devices who are not on the priority list. As a resolution, CSLA contributed 2,500 reconditioned V2.1 and V3.0 SKLs from depot stock to the Exchange Program. PL Net E is now collaborating with CSLA to issue the reconditioned V2.1s and V3.0s, as well as new V3.1s to units, depending on the circumstance. The partnership with CSLA frees up V3.1 assets that can fill the requirement of units not on the priority list, but in need of SKLs. "As a result of the collaboration, PdL COMSEC will avoid having to procure those 2,500 assets to meet demands," said Mr. Lambert.
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.