DOD, FEMA test net defenses

Representatives from all the armed services, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other organizations this week began exploring how compatible their communications systems would be in homeland defense situations.

The 2002 Joint Users Interoperability Communications Exercise (JUICE), which began Aug. 5 and runs through the end of the month, is using a mix of legacy and new technologies to support communications, command and control requirements for a deployed joint task force in simulated homeland defense scenarios.

In such scenarios, the Defense Department serves in a supporting role to FEMA and other groups, said John Caruso, chief of the DOD's Executive Agent for Theater Joint Tactical Networks (EA-TJTN).

"We're looking for collaborative scenarios and making sure [military] communications equipment is interoperable with FEMA's," said Caruso, adding that includes not only establishing links among systems, but also identifying redundancies. "We want to define the processes, methodologies and information flows that are in place."

During JUICE, systems and operational approaches are being tested, including defending networks from cyberattacks. "We're putting a network up and testing the defenses available," he said. "We'll be actively attacking our network in a controlled fashion."

Technical and military personnel in about 60 units worldwide, representing all the armed services, are participating in this month's exercise and will be manning the Joint Communications Control Center, the communications hub for JUICE.

The center, which was set up by the Army Communications-Electronics Command Software Engineering Center and the Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical at Fort Monmouth, N.J., is controlling all satellite and terrestrial communications, and sensor activity during JUICE.

Air Force Lt. Col. Tom Dixon, senior military communications officer for JUICE, said the exercise enables all of the services to test new software upgrades and equipment and "work through the issues that come into play."

JUICE is being carried out in phases, the first of which — establishing links for satellite communications among the different players — is under way, Dixon said. "Once those are set up, we'll begin the proof of concept with the equipment that's online."

FEMA, which participated in JUICE for the first time last year, is playing a larger role in this year's exercise as part of a new collaborative initiative with the military, Caruso said. FEMA Mobile Emergency Response System detachments will participate along with civil support teams from several states, including Arkansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Carl Sherblum, watch chief for JUICE, said the Defense Messaging System (DMS) is one of the main systems being tested during the exercise. DMS is the secure messaging system that is replacing DOD's Automatic Digital Network, commonly known as Autodin, and exercising it during JUICE is essential since FEMA also uses a version of it, he said.

Participation in JUICE, which was launched in 1996, is voluntary and the various agencies and units pay their own way, Caruso said. "There's no centralized pot of money," he said. "People participate because there's something in it for them."

Last year's exercise focused on ensuring that FEMA's voice, video and data systems, including the messaging system, were interoperable with the military's, Caruso said. Those tests were quickly applied after the attacks on Sept. 11, he added.

"Some of the communications between FEMA and the DOD were used, not extensively, but enough lessons learned for doing certain things they had to do," he said.


  • Management
    shutterstock image By enzozo; photo ID: 319763930

    Where does the TMF Board go from here?

    With a $1 billion cash infusion, relaxed repayment guidelines and a surge in proposals from federal agencies, questions have been raised about whether the board overseeing the Technology Modernization Fund has been scaled to cope with its newfound popularity.

  • IT Modernization
    shutterstock image By enzozo; photo ID: 319763930

    OMB provides key guidance for TMF proposals amid surge in submissions

    Deputy Federal CIO Maria Roat details what makes for a winning Technology Modernization Fund proposal as agencies continue to submit major IT projects for potential funding.

Stay Connected