BC2S gets ATM technology boost

To cover the Defense Department's ongoing withdrawal of U.S. forces from Bosnia to Germany Pentagon communicators have upgraded the Bosnian Command and Control System (BC2S) to handle huge multigigabyte data files from platforms such as spy satellites and Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

Air Force Maj. Linden Mercer of the National Reconnaissance Office said selected sites from the BC2S have already been upgraded from T-1 circuits to Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) technology capable of handling 13 megabit/sec. Mercer speaking at last month's annual Military Communications Conference said NRO needed the upgrade because "we produce multigigabyte files and even at T-1 speeds it takes hours to move such a large file."

BC2S hubs in Tuzla Bosnia Ramstein and Stuttgart Germany and Molesworth England - the terminus of the system's trans-Atlantic fiber-optic cable connection to the United States - already have upgraded to ATM Mercer said. He added that plans call for all 30 BC2S sites to receive the ATM upgrade but he did not give a time frame.

Army Col. Marlin Forbes Defense Information Systems Agency program manager for the Defense Information Systems Network said funding for the BC2S' upgrade came from supplemental congressional appropriations dedicated to supporting Operation Joint Endeavor.

The Pentagon's first high-capacity Global Broadcast System forms the core of the BC2S and DOD eventually plans to girdle the globe with such systems. The satellite operation is costly and Forbes cautioned that the cost for ground communications for such a system also is high. The Pentagon wants to set up three GBS "injection points" for GBS worldwide and Forbes estimated that the cost of hooking each of the three into DISN could reach $30 million a year.

Handling the Masses

Information for the BC2S is managed by the DISA-run Joint Information Management Center at the Pentagon. The agency's director Lt. Gen. Al Edmonds said DISA's "next big battle" is to figure out how to manage such large masses of data which for Bosnia alone resides on terabit-size disk farm.

Russell Myers chief of the Information Systems Division of the U.S. Atlantic Command (ACOM) said "There is a train wreck coming with these image files.... A Predator produces 30 frames of video a second and we're going to have to store each frame." ACOM has more than 200 T-1 circuits feeding into its Norfolk Va. headquarters with throughput running about 2 terabits a day "and that will increase sevenfold over the next five years " Myers said.

Researchers continue to push the bandwidth envelope. Henry Dardy chief scientist at the Center for Computational Science at the Naval Research Lab (NRL) said the lab plans to upgrade the Advanced Technology Demonstration Network (ATDNet) which serves as the high-speed fiber-optic wide-area network that links agencies such as the CIA DISA and NRO.

NRL which manages the Bell Atlantic-built ATDNet plans over the next two years to insert Multiwavelength Optical Networking technology into the WAN. This technology will allow multiple lasers operating at different frequencies to operate on the same fiber pipes promising a large increase in capacity.

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