DISA chief outlines wartime successes

The Defense Information Systems Agency has seen a spike in its workload since Sept. 11, 2001, and its systems and personnel have been up to the task, according to the agency's chief.

DISA's everyday mission is to support the military communications of more than 700,000 users worldwide through more than 1,200 applications. Because of the war on terrorism and Operation Iraqi Freedom, several DISA systems have seen a massive increase in traffic and some have been accelerated to support those efforts, said Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry Raduege Jr., DISA's director.

Raduege noted how enhanced communications have changed the nature of warfare and that command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities are what ties the military services and Defense Department agencies together. He was speaking today at the AFCEA International conference in Washington, D.C.

Describing one system that has seen rapid development, Raduege said the software for the Global Command and Control System (GCCS), has been upgraded 22 times since the terrorist attacks, while remaining operational during wartime. GCCS features a common operational picture that top DOD commanders worldwide use to control and manage forces. It also gives them near real-time graphical snapshots of friendly and potential enemy forces.

GCCS terminals also have been set up for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who have used reports from the system to brief President Bush on aspects of the war in Iraq, Raduege said. He added that GCCS also provides pilots with feeds from Predator unmanned aerial vehicles.

DISA has also increased the bandwidth available to warfighters, with 3,000 megabits/sec satellite bandwidth available to about 350,000 users in the Middle East, which is about 30 times the speed that was available during Operation Desert Storm, Raduege said. He noted that 84 percent of that is provided by commercial carriers.

Massive bandwidth increases have also served the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network and the Non-Classified Internet Protocol Router Network, both of which are used for command and control purposes.

Other systems that have performed well and seen usage spike during the war effort include:

* The Defense Message System, a multibillion-dollar effort to secure DOD communications worldwide, has worked well in Southwest Asia.

* The Defense Switched Network, which averaged less than 200,000 minutes per day of usage before Sept. 11, spiked to 750,000 minutes per day in the Middle East a few months ago. Usage now has settled in at 313,000 minutes per day.

* Secure video teleconferencing, which is available around the clock. DISA has added 347 new sites and upgraded 237 existing sites to secure levels since Sept.11, and made limited availability possible aboard Air Force One.

Even with all the successes, Raduege acknowledged that much work needs to be done, especially in making more bandwidth available worldwide and in lessening the time needed to make information available to decision-makers in forward-deployed locations.

Raduege said three ongoing projects would help solve those problems:

* Global Information Grid bandwidth expansion, which will enhance DOD's Defense Information System Network so that it can support OC-192 (10 gigabits/sec) at all classification levels, bringing the intelligence and command and control communities onto a single architecture and infrastructure.

* Teleports, which will improve transmission of DISA voice, video and data services to deployed forces via satellite.

* The Net-Centric Enterprise Services project, which will enable the military and intelligence communities to access information relevant to their missions regardless of what agency operates the network where the data resides.

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