Flexibility valued in wartime IT

Camp Arifjan

FARWANIYA, Kuwait — Whether it's a logistics system used to track resources from factory to foxhole or a medical communications system used to help care for wounded soldiers, information technology contractors supporting wartime efforts must be flexible and responsive to customers' needs, according to officials from Technical and Management Services Corp. (TAMSCO).

"Flexibility is the key to everything because customer requirements change almost on a daily basis," said Daniel Roelofs, TAMSCO's regional manager for southwest Asia.

He said TAMSCO, an IT company specializing in telecommunications, integrated logistics services, systems integration and electronics manufacturing, has about 40 employees in the southwest Asia arena, most of whom have arrived in the past eight months. The company supports a variety of Army systems, including:

* Combat Service Support Automated Information System Interface, a wireless local-area network that provides "last-mile connectivity" between combat service support computers on the tactical battlefield and the Army's wireless LAN.

* Automatic identification technology/radio frequency identification, where the Defense Department embeds containers with electronic tags that can be read like bar codes using a handheld device or an automated scanning system. The information is captured in an online database so logistics experts worldwide can track the progress of supplies they ordered.

* Logistics common operating picture.

* Medical communications for combat casualty care.

"Our mission is to provide real-time communications to the warfighter," including command, control, communications and computers systems, video teleconferencing, and connectivity to DOD's Non-Classified Internet Protocol Router Network and Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, said Roelofs, who has been in the southwest Asia area of operations for more than a year.

After an interview with FCW, Roelofs and Irvin Robinson, TAMSCO's regional administrator for southwest Asia, said they were heading to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, to iron out deployment and training time lines for Army systems. Those details have not been finalized because of a number of variables, including an increase in war operations as well as transportation challenges based on the availability of commercial airlines or military transport, Roelofs said.

Other challenges include bandwidth constraints and interoperability issues. "The mission dictates interoperability because you don't want a bad guy breaking into your frequency or being able to use the same equipment," he said. "Closed networks are more difficult for an outside entity to break into."

But once in the field, TAMSCO's equipment comes in cases that are easy to unload and use, and it is ruggedized for quick setup, tear-down and movement, Robinson said.

The TAMSCO officials would not discuss the technical specifications of the various Army systems or specific deployment or training time lines until they are given proper clearance from the Army and corporate headquarters, they said.

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