DOD to upgrade comm
- By Bob Brewin
- Feb 01, 1998
STUTTGART, Germany— The U.S. European Command (Eucom), headquartered here, has devised an innovative plan to quickly upgrade rather than replace its key backbone network in Europe in a partnership involving the Army, the Air Force, the Navy and the Defense Information Systems Agency.
Air Force Brig. Gen. Charlie Croom, Eucom's director of command, control, communications and computer systems, said the upgrade stands as the "No. 1 communication priority" of the Eucom commander in chief, Army Gen. Wesley Clark. The existing pan-European network, which supports U.S. forces, "cannot meet the requirements" of the users, Croom said.
The Digital European Backbone (DEB), installed in the 1970s and 1980s, runs from the United Kingdom to northern Italy and currently provides Eucom with six dedicated T-1 circuits. The circuits, which operate at a speed of 1.54 megabits/sec, cannot handle the multimedia communication requirements of today's forces.
While DISA has asked industry to provide input on commercial solutions, Eucom has
decided to upgrade the U.S.-owned DEB and its associated switches. Eucom has augmented the DEB with leased commercial circuits, which is a costly alternative because there is no competition in Europe, unlike the United States, where telecommunications deregulation has sparked fierce competition.
"Competition is not here yet," Croom said, explaining why Eucom has opted for the DEB upgrade. Germany deregulated telecommunications Jan. 1, and Eucom is waiting to see what that will do to rates for leased circuits.
The DEB upgrade provides a low-cost solution, Croom said. "We own the backbone, including the [microwave] towers," Croom said. "All we need to do is replace the existing radios."
Replacing the microwave transmitters will allow Eucom to increase the capacity on the DEB to an OC-3 bandwidth, which operates at a speed of 155 megabits/sec and is equivalent to the throughput of the Defense Information Systems Network (DISN) in the United States.
Air Force Col. Michael Armstrong, commander of DISA-Europe, said the DEB upgrade will not meet all of Eucom's requirements because it does not serve southern Italy, Turkey or Greece— areas that will have to be served by DISN-Europe.
Stitching together the new DISN-Europe network from commercial and government-owned circuits and equipment poses a challenging integration task. "We'll be the integrator," Armstrong said. "I have a lot of confidence in our people, and we can do as good a job as anyone."
Eucom's Croom said information systems security stands at the top of his list of priorities, and DISA-Europe plans to set up a Regional Information Systems Security Center to help in this effort, according to Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Gary Wehrs. This center will provide DISA-Europe with the in-house capabilities to monitor European networks and help "systems administrators determine whether or not there has been an intrusion," Wehrs said. To accomplish this task, DISA-Europe and Eucom need to acquire "a standard set of tools for intrusion detection."