Net-centric

Maj. Roswell Dixon collects data during an evaluation of IPv6 hardware.

Courtesy of Joint Interoperability Test Command

JITC testers use a variety of optical networking and video gear to discover which new products are interoperable with existing military equipment.

Courtesy of Joint Interoperability Test Command

How JITC tests global interoperability

The Joint Interoperability Test Command is working to forge new test methods for network-centric warfare.

The Defense Department's Global Information Grid-Bandwidth Expansion effort will encompass all of DOD's owned and leased communications and computing systems and services at all locations. GIG-BE must also interface with coalition, allied and non-DOD systems.

The foundation of the GIG-BE architecture is an IP optical migration from aging asynchronous transfer mode networks. Although GIG-BE is designed specifically for high-rate data transfers, it will also support the migration of other Defense Information System Network services.

The current DISN backbone relies heavily on ATM switches and time-division multiplexing with inherent bandwidth limitations. GIG-BE's optical switches will use dense-wavelength-division multiplexing to increase the capacity of fiber-optic links and backbone transmission speeds.

Once the bandwidth expansion is in place, the Defense Information Systems Agency will improve end-to-end services through its GIG Enterprise Services (GES) initiative, in collaboration with the Joint Staff and the assistant secretary of Defense for networks and information integration.

GES will maximize use of commercial products and standards to bridge across real-time and near-real-time communities. With GES, the so-called edge user'the warfighter, decision-maker and support person'can pull information from any available source with minimal latency.

To implement this on a global scale, JITC must ensure that the proposed technologies are interoperable. JITC testers at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., and Indian Head, Md., have gotten a running start with:
  • Network transport testing of optical and other high-bandwidth transmission systems

  • A Joint Tactical Radio System test bed

  • Collaboration tool testing

  • Information assurance assessments

  • Interoperability demonstrations.

The JITC Washington Operations Division's Advanced Technologies Testbed at Indian Head has set up a multivendor architecture that encompasses optical switching (both optical-electrical-optical and all-optical), dense-wavelength-division multiplexing, Gigabit Ethernet, packet-over-Synchronous Optical Network and ATM core components.

Many protocols, services

The test bed employs a wide array of protocols and services such as multiprotocol label switching (MPLS), the new Generalized MPLS, IP telephony, video streaming over IP, network management tools and wireless LANs.

Under cooperative R&D agreements, Indian Head researchers have assessed a WAN accelerator from Expand Networks Inc. of Roseland, N.J.; the RayStar Optical Cross-Connect and RayExpress Metro Optical Add/Drop Multiplexer from Movaz Networks Inc. of Atlanta; and DiamondWave 128 and 256 all-optical cross-connect devices from Calient Networks Inc. of San Jose, Calif.

JITC is also assessing the Apeiro flow-based router from Caspian Networks Inc., also of San Jose, and SN 3000 and SN 16000 optical switches from Sycamore Networks Inc. of Chelmsford, Mass.

The testers consult industry standards documents, vendor specifications and the GIG Capstone Requirements Document, which includes a compliance checklist. Vendors can use a successful assessment as a sales tool within DOD.

The Joint Tactical Radio System test bed, located at Fort Huachuca, is most critical for warfighters because GIG will unite the functions of several single-function radios.

JTRS procurements are grouped into clusters based on similarity of requirements and fielding schedules. The radio sets must be software-programmable, multiband/multimode and network-capable for simultaneous voice, data and video communications.

The test bed can perform simultaneous manual and automated testing of multiple radios for handheld, vehicular, airborne and shipboard systems. JITC will provide a conformance certification for each waveform successfully tested.

Today the Internet predominantly uses the older IP Version 4, which is running short of address space. Fort Huachuca testers are evaluating IPv6 hardware and software.

But both protocols will coexist for years, which increases the importance of interoperability testing.

During this year's annual DOD Interoperability Communications Exercise (DICE), JITC tested IPv4 on Secret IP Router Network and Nonclassified IP Router Network equipment as well as IPv6 on NIPRnet equipment.

The Fort Huachuca testers wanted to see whether IPv6 systems and equipment were compatible with IPv4 and IPv6 hosts and routers via the mandated Joint Technical Architecture protocols.

As part of their effort, they built an IP topology for native IPv6 and tunneling sessions and exchanged data with other IPv6 and IPv4 equipment.

The DICE event provided valuable information about IPv6 dual-stack and tunneling transitions, routing protocols and user services. But JITC still must determine the best approach to testing and eventually certifying IPv6 hardware and software.

JITC's Washington team conducts penetration tests and code vulnerability security tool assessments.

Its testers are also called in to assist during DOD's Information Technology Security Certification and Accreditation Process and the National Information Assurance Certification and Accreditation Process.

Software audits

They have also developed a methodology for auditing commercial as well as in-house software before it is put on a network. The Code Assessment and Validation Analysis (CAVA) suite objectively rates the vulnerability of software products and processes in terms of the integrity of source code.

CAVA analyzes source code for standard coding practices and for potential security holes such as worms, viruses, Trojan horses, hostile mobile code, backdoors and trapdoors. JITC's team recently performed CAVA reviews of the Defense Security Assistance Management System, the Commercial Activities Management Information System and the Electronic Form 562 system.

Recently the Washington Operations Division gave technical advice to the Joint Warrior Interoperability Demonstration's senior management group and assessed various technologies during JWID's multinational task force scenarios.

The products tested during JWID included routing applications, network performance monitoring tools, language translators, security technologies, collaboration tools, data acceleration and network-centric tactical awareness technologies.

In support of national and coalition vulnerability assessment teams during the event, the JITC team observed and assessed the integrity of the overall JWID 2003 network.

DOD senior leaders have repeatedly said that net-centric capabilities must be interoperable. JITC's involvement in the early evaluations, assessments and demonstrations will help DOD define the essentials of this IT transformation.

Chris Watson, watson1c@ncr.disa.mil, is an information systems project officer and corporate communications manager for JITC's Washington Operations Division. Tony Stout, StoutT@ncr.disa.mil, serves as advanced technologies test director of the division's Messaging and Network Systems Branch.

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