Air Guard works to dispel any fly-by-night image

Air Guard works to dispel any fly-by-night image

In information assurance and other areas, officials strive to match qualities of the active-duty service

By Bill Murray

GCN Staff

Even though Air National Guard officials operate leanly, they want their programs, such as the Network Operations and Security Center, to look and feel like the active-duty Air Force.

Developed last October, NOSC is a second line of technical support for the Air Guard's 107,000 users, beyond the service's 93 network control centers in the 50 states and four territories, said Maj. Bruce D. Babcock, NOSC chief.

With only 12 employees, NOSC serves an organization that is larger than many major commands, Babcock said. It provides support 14 hours a day, with pager recall during off-duty hours, he said.

NOSC supports 250 units and can ramp up to provide 24-hour support, Babcock said.

Firewalls apart

The Air Guard uses a different firewall product than the active-duty Air Force'Raptor Eagle 6.0 from Axent Technologies Inc. of Rockville, Md.'even though the two services usually standardize on products. But by the time the Air Force had selected the Sidewinder firewall from Secure Computing Corp. of San Jose, Calif., the Guard had deployed its firewall selection, Babcock said.

'Is ours better than theirs?' Babcock said. 'I don't know. Is blue better than brown? That's not a call I'm prepared to make.'

Information assurance is one area in which the Guard strives to look and feel like the active-duty service. Air Force Computer Emergency Response Center officials at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas, give NOSC officials information assurance warnings, Babcock said. NOSC officials have to acknowledge receipt of such data and comply with the orders just as the active duty does, he said.

NOSC has a minimal staff considering the size of the Air Guard, said Arthur C. Farrington, Guard information assurance chief. He said he learned just how efficiently an organization can operate when he began working at NOSC after retiring from active duty.

NOSC officials like to point out any favorable differences between their organization and the active duty Air Force, but they see organizations such as the Standard Systems Group's Fusion Center at the Gunter Annex of Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., as important resources. They also speak proudly about Col. Robert Glitz, who directs the Fusion Center and is a former Air Guard deputy chief information officer and former traditional guardsman.

'The support is good,' said Master Sgt. Jacqueline J. Atkins, an Air Guard computer specialist in Sandston, Va. In early August, NOSC officials stayed on the phones for hours with Virginia Air Guard officials after Hewlett-Packard Co. servers running Vines 8.5 from Banyan Worldwide of Westborough, Mass., went down.

The Air Guard uses routers from Bay Networks Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif., bought through reseller The Presidio Corp. of Lanham, Md., and it uses Electronic Data Systems Corp. for Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 and Exchange Server 5.5 support.

Digicon Corp. of Rockville, Md., helped support the Guard's migration from Vines 8.5 and StreetTalk to NT and Exchange Server, said Janet Gross, the Guard's chief of network operations. A Guard official, however, said the Guard was dissatisfied with Digicon's work and no longer uses the company.

Exchange users who have tried to access archived StreetTalk files have reported no data loss, Gross said. The Guard is scheduled to complete the migration by December.

Although the Air Force can control its Non-Classified IP Router Network access from only one point'the Standard Systems Group'Air Guard officials use five regional centers for NIPRnet control, Babcock said.

'This is an issue we're actively addressing,' Babcock said when asked if Air Guard officials plan to close all unofficial NIPRnet access points.

Arthur L. Money, the Defense Department's chief information officer, recently ordered DOD agencies to shut such access points unless they receive waivers from the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

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