JWID '96 will spotlight switching, transmission

The Defense Department plans to use this year's Joint Warrior Interoperability Demonstration (JWID '96) to harvest information technology "golden nug-gets" that it can insert quickly into the battlefield, with advanced, high-speed switch and transmission technology topping the list.

This is not an academic or scientific exercise, according to Army Col. Rock Schmidt, director of JWID '96, but a sharply focused project that will deliver quick payoffs. "We want to identify technologies that we can get out to the warfighter as soon as possible," Schmidt said.

DOD has held JWID since the late 1980s, with the four services rotating as the lead service on an annual basis. JWIDs are designed to demonstrate improved capabilities for deployed forces and improved interoperability between existing and emerging technologies and systems.

The emphasis for JWID '96 is on both "joint" and "interoperability," Schmidt said. And there are good reasons for this, according to Gen. Ronald Griffith, Army vice chief of staff.

"We can no longer afford the days of systems which operate in isolation," Griffith said. "We can no longer afford stovepipe systems. And it's not just an affordability issue, it's a warfighting issue."

JWID '96 industry participants will showcase solutions and technologies that can meet Schmidt and Griffith's goals, particularly in the area of Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) switching and transmission systems. The JWID plan calls for several demonstrations in each of these areas.

AT&T Highlights TDMCS

AT&T is supporting the Theater Deployable Multimedia Communications System (TDMCS) JWID '96 demonstration, which will bring both higher-speed ATM and Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) technology to deployed forces using current, relatively narrow-bandwidth pipelines.

Ken Pedersen, assistant vice president for technology in the AT&T government markets unit, said the purpose of the TDMCS demonstration is to seamlessly transfer high-data rate ATM traffic "to as low in the military echelon as we can go. This will allow us to make maximum utilization...of the circuits that are available to the deployed warfighter."

Army units in Bosnia can use a tactical adapter to connect to the World Wide Web over Mobile Subscriber Equipment (MSE) switches and circuits. "But when you do that, you end up occupying a whole channel," Pedersen said. "Using ATM, we encapsulate everything in cells [voice and other data transmission], which gets away from dedicating bandwidth to one particular terminal device in a bandwidth-starved environment."

Pedersen said JWID also will be the "first time anyone has ever done ISDN over an ATM protocol."

The hardware AT&T has assembled for the demonstration also will answer another compelling need for deployed forces: compact gear that can replace equipment housed in airlifter-unfriendly 2.5- and 5-ton trucks. The company has stuffed ATM and ISDN switches and routers and a PBX into a container that can be carried on the back of a Humvee.

This is just the start of downsizing battlefield communications hardware.

"This whole package can get much smaller," Pedersen said. "Right now we're using commercial off-the-shelf technology, but we know many of the elements can be integrated further. We can combine the circuits switch and the ATM into a common box. And if we wanted to, we could design the whole package around ASIC technology, making the whole thing dramatically smaller over time."

GTE to Showcase Adapter

GTE Corp., which manufactures MSE, will use JWID '96 to incorporate ATM technology into existing switches, according to a memo from Song Chon, an electronics engineer with the Army Battle Command Battle Lab, Fort Gordon, Ga., another JWID site.

GTE will demonstrate the tactical ATM service adapter installed in an MSE switch/multiplexed unit, Chon said. Dwight Lee, director of DOD relations, said ATM technology definitely should improve throughput on narrow band tactical pipes.

"You run up against the laws of physics when you try and increase bandwidth," Lee said, "but ATM allows you to use bandwidth more efficiently because it allocates traffic."

The JWID ATM backbone melds the existing Defense Information Systems Network Leading Edge Services (LES) ATM network - which includes a Washington, D.C.-area ATM service provided by Bell Atlantic - through special switches and terrestrial and satellite circuits installed for the demonstrations, according to Chon. This includes installation of a Fore Systems ATM switch at Fort Bragg, N.C., hub of JWID.

Fort Gordon will connect to Fort Bragg via the AT&T Telstar-4 satellite and also will be tied into Macdill Air Force Base, Fla., via a leased land line. The AT&T control facility at Holmdel, N.J., will be tied into Fort Bragg by a terrestrial link.

JWID culminates with a demonstration period for high-ranking Pentagon officials and their staffs on Aug. 26-30. Further information on JWID '96 can be found on the World Wide Web at http://www.army.mil/jwid96.htm.

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