By Amy Walker, PEO C3TNovember 2, 2012
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md., (Nov. 1, 2012) -- The Army will field the next upgrade to its current tactical communications network backbone at regional sites, a more efficient and timely alternative to traditional unit site upgrades.
"By utilizing a Regional Training Site concept for the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Increment 1 Colorless Core upgrade, the Army is expected to increase the quality of training, save time and money and most importantly have less disruption on units and their commanders," said Lt. Col. Greg Coile, product manager, or PdM, for WIN-T Increment 1 and PdM for Satellite Communications, known as SATCOM. "It's a win-win all around."
At the end of August, PM WIN-T achieved a milestone when it fielded the last of the 210 units identified to receive WIN-T Increment 1. To increase the interoperability and commonality of WIN-T Increment 1, the Department of the Army directed all 210 of these units be modified with the WIN-T Increment 1 Colorless Core upgrade by fiscal year (FY) 2016. Not only will the new upgrade increase interoperability with WIN-T Increment 2, but it will also improve the security and efficiency of the network.
Instead of traveling to individual unit locations for equipment upgrades and training, then setting up, tearing down and moving on to the next unit location, the Regional Training Site, or RTS, approach enables Project Manager WIN-T to remain at a single location until all the units in the surrounding area have been trained. Then the fielding team will strategically move to another region of the country and repeat the process so that units won't have to travel great distances to receive their training and equipment upgrades.
The first of three initial sites has already been stood up and training began in August. Eventually all of the regional locations will be conducting training and performing upgrades simultaneously.
"Regional Training Sites are key to enable the PM to meet the Army's timeline requirement to complete the Increment 1 upgrades, while ensuring we continue to provide high quality training," said Maj. Michael Williams, assistant PdM for WIN-T Increment 1.
PM WIN-T will conduct vehicle modifications either at the unit's motor pool or provide the upgrades as the platforms come out of reset. This will allow more time to troubleshoot, analyze equipment and provide the right amount of time for installation without negatively impacting on the unit's training timeline.
Similar to a home Internet connection, WIN-T Increment 1, formerly known as the "Joint Network Node-Network," began fielding in 2004 and provides Soldiers with high-speed, high-capacity voice, data and video communications down to battalion level units, "at-the-quick-halt." WIN-T Increment 2 supports operations while "on-the-move," introduces networking radios, enhances Network Operations, or NetOps, for network planning and monitoring and pushes capability down to the company level. WIN-T Increment 2 completed its Initial Operational Test and Evaluation in May and is a critical part of Capability Set 13 -- an integrated baseline of network technologies that began fielding to Army brigade combat teams in early October. PM WIN-T is assigned to the Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications-Tactical, known as PEO C3T.
Initial efforts for the WIN-T Increment 1 Colorless Core upgrade began in July. At the heart of the upgrade is the colorless core routing enclave, which enables Soldiers to send information across the battlefield without fear of the enemy intercepting sensitive information. The reason it is called "colorless" is that the Army often places color codes on certain security enclaves, with secret typically being designated as red and unclassified as black. Unlike previous enclaves, in the colorless core all of the data is encrypted, so no one can tell whether the information is secret or unclassified; the "color" cannot be identified. Unclassified information is just as hard to obtain as secret.
The new upgrade also takes advantage of the Network Centric Waveform, or NCW, through use of an NCW modem for satellite transmission. NCW is a dynamic and more capable waveform that optimizes bandwidth and satellite utilization, providing efficient SATCOM capabilities for WIN-T Increment 1 at-the-halt and for WIN-T Increment 2 while at-the-halt and on-the-move. One of the key attributes of NCW is that it facilitates communication between Increments 1 and 2, increasing interoperability so the two increments can "talk" seamlessly on the battlefield.
Not only will the upgrade allow WIN-T Increment 1 and Increment 2 to share the same modem, but they will also share the same baseline set of NetOps tools. NetOps tools give communications officers the capabilities they need to be able to plan, operate, monitor, respond and defend the network. All of the planning before the network goes to the field and all the configurations and maintenance while it is in the field runs through NetOps. Having similar tools will also increase the capability and interoperability of the two increments.
In a further effort to increase efficiencies, PM WIN-T recently added the High Capacity Line-Of-Sight, known as HCLOS, radio upgrade to the effort. Combining these efforts provides another facet in which to accelerate the program, reduce costs and avoid further distraction to the unit. The HCLOS radio program is an integral part of WIN-T Increment 1 and provides the high data rates needed to transport large volumes of data on the digital battlefield.
"The Army is drawing down and tempo is drawing down, which is all the more reason for us to come up with a different alternatives to get Soldiers trained in time and rapidly fielded," said Lawrence Holgate, fielding manager for WIN-T Increment 1, of the RTS concept.
To avoid additional costs for the RTSs, PM WIN-T is utilizing equipment that has been deactivated or that will eventually be replaced by incoming WIN-T Increment 2 equipment. The repurposed WIN-T Increment 1 equipment will be refurbished and undergo any needed technology refreshments so that it is fully operational when Soldiers need it for training, Holgate said.
PM WIN-T is also reducing the stress on unit commanders by establishing these upgrade facilities so the unit commander doesn't have to, he added.
"To complete the upgrades we will have to deploy teams overseas," Holgate said. "So we have to come up with different models for that, but whatever model we use, we are trying to accelerate it in the interest of the unit commanders so they don't have another rock in their rucksack."