New command enlists four-star beta testers

New command enlists four-star beta testers

The new Joint Systems Integration Command in Suffolk, Va., has 160 computer and communications engineers working on 'near-term insertion, within one year' of prototypes to close military technology gaps in the field, JSIC deputy commander Col. Michael Bradley said yesterday.

Back when it was called the Joint Battle Center, JSIC used to assess interoperability of commercial products. 'We evolved to pick up the prototype mission,' Bradley said, recently building a prototype communications kit that gives deployed commanders a virtual private network link to their own headquarters desktop PCs. The kit handles classified as well as unclassified transmissions by satellite.

'We just finished delivering it to joint task force commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan,' Bradley said. 'We sent out teams that spent about six weeks' installing, troubleshooting and teaching users how to operate the executive command and control suite. Its 35-pound hardware kit can be carried in a backpack and set up in about five minutes, he said.

Asked how he enlisted the testers, Bradley said, 'We tested it first on' Joint Forces commander Adm. Edmund Giambastiani, who travels constantly. 'We developed the kit, and he showed it off to other four-stars,' Bradley said.

Another JSIC project is improving C2 on the move, following lessons learned by allied commanders in Iraq who had only radio links and complained about their inability to transmit data. 'We developed a prototype with a satellite link' for vehicles to receive e-mail and video on the move, Bradley said.

Current network rates range from 2 Mbps to 5 Mbps, he said, although 10 Mbps can be achieved with compression or in fixed locations with large satellite dishes.

A third project recently brought together 34 C2 program managers from all the services, plus their lead engineers, to fix gaps in joint forces' message flows and other traffic forming a common operational picture.

Penny Powell, director of the command's interoperability demonstrations group, said such a large gathering of C2 program managers was unprecedented. The command this month is using real feeds to test the fixes and see if they work, she said.

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