PEO EIS conducts Army's first comprehensive network modernization at Fort Belvoir

By Erika ChristOctober 25, 2022

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Army Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS), the acquisition organization responsible for modernizing and managing the Army’s network and business systems, has begun a comprehensive, 24-month modernization project in its own backyard.

PEO EIS’ Global Enterprise Network Modernization – Americas (GENM-A) product office, which conducts network and infrastructure modernization activities at Army posts, camps and stations throughout the continental United States, is leading a comprehensive modernization effort to include networks, voice, technical control facilities (TCF) and a Wi-Fi component at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, where PEO EIS is headquartered.

Fort Belvoir is the first domestic installation where GENM-A is pursuing the comprehensive approach instead of modernizing the garrison’s data, voice and TCF separately as individual, distinct projects. Additionally, GENM-A is conducting a site survey at the installation to determine the requirements for a Wi-Fi implementation, which will enable people with the proper credentials to have secure and consistent wireless network access.

Jennifer Chavez, GENM-A’s project officer for networks and infrastructure, is helping oversee the network modernization (NETMOD) piece of the project, which involves both non-classified and classified systems.

“The goal of NETMOD is to provide greater security and efficiency of the network on the installation,” she said.

When network users at Fort Belvoir lose their traditional Ethernet connection, they are forced to switch to a mobile hotspot because of the installation’s lack of Wi-Fi, or they must wait until service is restored, said Chavez. By adding Wi-Fi to the NETMOD effort, GENM-A will provide a secure and reliable connection option that reduces general connectivity challenges.

Besides identifying the acquisition strategy, GENM-A is developing the requirements and making carefully considered decisions about where Wi-Fi access will be deployed during the effort, taking into consideration security implications. Once a Wi-Fi implementation contract is awarded, the team will survey, engineer and implement the wireless solution.

“The integration of Wi-Fi into the Fort Belvoir network will offer users something they never had — flexibility and mobility,” said Lt. Col. Xkoshan Arnold, product manager for GENM-A. “The ability for Soldiers and government civilians to access Army networks wirelessly promotes collaboration and freedom of movement among our teams, which is critical as we return to the office to execute the mission.”

GENM-A hosted a kickoff call July 27 with over 100 stakeholders representing the 7th Signal Command, the 21th Signal Brigade, the Army Network Enterprise Technology Command, Army Cyber Command, Fort Belvoir and several associated sites, including Fort A.P. Hill, Fort McNair, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, and Fort Meade. GENM-A also holds weekly stakeholder calls and internal calls to review and assess the comprehensive approach to modernizing the installation.

The team completed a successful NETMOD survey on Sept 30. The field teams were able to visit each location and survey the identified buildings with the support of Fort Belvoir Network Enterprise Center personnel. The next milestone for the project is the assembly and deployment of core devices, scheduled to take place in January 2023. The team is currently working on design and engineering with the support of the integrator. In addition, they are coordinating with Tobyhanna Army Depot to procure materials and perform any necessary power upgrades to support the core location switch installs.

The TCF piece of GENM-A’s modernization effort involves connecting all Army technical control facilities into the Department of Defense Information Network (DODIN) to provide secure and reliable internet access for Soldiers. The Technical Control Facility serves as the central demarcation point between of the Army’s tactical network, the DODIN, the Army’s strategic network and the commercial network. It provides a precise, clear “boundary” for where leased commercial and DOD services end, and local services begin. GENM-A has conducted a site survey at two TCF facilities at Fort Belvoir and is preparing a report that will serve as the basis for a design engineering plan.

Voice modernization (VMOD) will be another important element of the modernization effort at Fort Belvoir. In support of the Army Deputy Chief of Staff G-6’s priority to reduce the Army’s overall phone count and convert users from standard circuits to internet-based connections, GENM-A is preparing a VMOD 2.0 contract. Once that contract is in place, GENM-A will begin the implementation of a regionalized voice modernization effort, starting in the National Capital Region with Fort Belvoir. The regionalization of voice service will reduce costs by consolidating service to four sites, while allowing multiple bases to obtain voice services from a regional voice provider.

Once proven successful, GENM-A’s comprehensive approach will serve as a model for the future of domestic unified network modernization projects across the Army.