Navy hosts exercise without Coalition WAN

For Rim of the Pacific ’98, a monthlong international maritime wargame, navies
from six nations are running exercises without the benefit of the Coalition WAN.


CWAN is the common coalition backbone that provides real-time collaborative planning,
interoperability and connectivity between U.S. and allied forces. Forces set up the
secret-level network for each use and dismantle it afterward.


The Defense Department has used CWAN in other recent exercises. The Navy’s Third
Fleet, which coordinates RIMPAC ’98, wanted to use CWAN so U.S. and allied forces
could share operational data.


But the network never materialized, Navy officials said, because the Joint Chiefs of
Staff did not fund its use for the exercise.


Instead, the Third Fleet scraped together enough money to create its own partial
CWAN-like capability, using a mail server at the Naval Computer and Telecommunications
Area Master Station-Pacific (NCTAMS) in Wahiawa, Hawaii. It lets RIMPAC ships send and
receive e-mail.


“The CWAN that was used during [last year’s] Joint Warrior Interoperability
Demonstration was a much more robust system that involved a lot of routers and quite a bit
of money,” said Lt. Cmdr. Teresa Scallon, information systems officer for Third
Fleet.


RIMPAC runs from July 6 to Aug. 6. More than 50 ships, 200 aircraft and 25,000 military
personnel drawn from the maritime forces of Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, Korea and the
United States are taking part. The naval exercise, which is held every two years, conducts
joint and combined training operations using realistic scenarios.


Budget constraints kept the Joint Staff from approving use of the CWAN for RIMPAC
’98, Scallon said.


“So what we have that we’re calling CWAN is really a Post Office Protocol
mail server at our communications station here in Hawaii,” she said. “We’re
calling it CWAN because that’s the name that everyone understands.”


The mail server is a 200-MHz server from AST Research Inc. of Irvine, Calif., with 128M
of RAM and a 4G hard drive. For messaging, it runs Microsoft Exchange 5.0.


To access e-mail, Coalition ships at RIMPAC dial up the POP mail server in Hawaii
through the International Maritime Satellite, Scallon said. The mail server holds incoming
e-mail until users log on and download it, she said.


“Everyone is really enjoying the ability to access POP mail on the smaller
ships,” she said. “We’re going to expand that and try to do the actual
full-blown CWAN at the next RIMPAC.”


The master station network operations center provides store-and-forward e-mail
management services for U.S. ships in the Pacific. The center’s hardware includes
Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc. workstations running Unix. Soon, however,
the service will move to PCs running Microsoft Windows NT, Navy officials said.


The network operations center controls both unclassified traffic on the Non-Classified
IP Router Network and classified traffic on the Secret IP Router Network. A firewall
separates NIPRnet and SIPRnet. Allies are not allowed access to SIPRnet.


The Defense Information Systems Agency developed CWAN for allies to communicate highly
sensitive data without using SIPRnet.


“The way we interact between foreign ships, which are not using SIPRnet, and U.S.
ships, which are using SIPRnet, is we have a high-assurance guard that is a secure network
server over at NCTAMS in Hawaii allowing messages and e-mail to pass between what we are
calling CWAN and their e-mail server,” Scallon said.


The high-assurance guard, which cost $100,000 and was approved by the Joint Staff,
blocks foreign access to SIPRnet during the exercise.


“The secure network server mail guard is not in standard use,” Scallon said.
“It required a waiver from the Joint Staff. Our Navy commands are researching for
ways to get around communicating with the coalition forces. As an interim solution they
have approved this secure mail guard.”


The Joint Staff’s decision not to fund the full-blown CWAN for RIMPAC comes at a
time when the Office of the Secretary of Defense has made improved communications between
U.S. and allied forces a high priority.

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