'Installation as docking station' links home front to battlefield technologies

By Gordon Van Vleet, Network Enterprise Technology CommandMay 18, 2012

'Installation as docking station' links home front to battlefield technologies
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

WASHINGTON (May 18, 2012) -- Soldiers at eight U.S. Army posts are the first to link into the "Installation as a Docking Station" system that allows access to the same information technology systems and software used on the battlefield.

The Army recently implemented the use of Installation as a Docking Station systems across all Forces Command units -- including those already connected at Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Riley, Kan.; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Campbell, Ky.; Fort Drum, N.Y.; and Fort Stewart, Ga. More will connect by July.

This program is "an example of effectively using technology while gaining efficiencies," said Lt. Gen. Susan S. Lawrence, the Army chief information officer/G-6. "This train-as-you-fight strategy allows commanders and system operators to maintain skills and ensure equipment readiness as well as reducing the need for satellite bandwidth in garrison."

From August to November 2011, Fort Carson, Colo., units completed a pilot of the Installation as a Docking Station. This tactical information-technology system provides a standard, simplified connection for operating forces to connect tactical mission command systems to an installation's secure network. The pilot was conducted by the Network Enterprise Technology Command, U.S. Army Forces Command, 7th Signal Command (Theater), and 43rd Sustainment Brigade.

"We want active and reserve-component units who operate tactical IT systems during exercises and deployments to train and work in garrison as they would during deployments," said William Lasher, the FORSCOM deputy chief of staff, G-6. "Warfighter readiness and the ability to fight upon arrival are crucial for a fully capable, ready force."

Tactical information technology systems are complex and ever-changing, requiring highly-skilled personnel to administer them, said Tim Powers, a member of the FORSCOM G-6. "Soldiers must constantly exercise their craft to maintain the high state of proficiency needed to support commanders' requirements."

Installation as a Docking Station provides consistent, streamlined and cost-effective mission command connectivity at the garrison. It enables administrators to keep user accounts current and keeps systems patched to mitigate security threats. A SharePoint server at the Area Processing Center on Fort Bragg will provide mission command system patch distribution.

Mission command systems provide command and control, distributed planning, and situational awareness capabilities, which are key components to success on the battlefield, officials said.

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