DISA creates tsunami ops center

U.S. Pacific Command relief effort site

The Defense Information Systems Agency has set up a Global NetOps Center Tsunami Operations Cell to provide communications and information systems support to the Combined Support Force (CSF) 536 headquartered in Utapao, Thailand, which manages Defense Department tsunami humanitarian relief operations in the Indian Ocean region, a DISA spokeswoman said.

The Tsunami Operations Cell is staffed by personnel from DISA and the U.S. Strategic Command's Joint Task Force-Global Network Operations, said Sheryl Robertson, DISA spokeswoman. The Tsunami Support cell is providing CSF-536 (formerly Joint Task Force-536) with a variety of secure and non-secure communications systems, including satellite and network gateway access, video teleconferencing, voice and data services and collaborative planning tools.

Satellite-based systems are the primary means of communications for Defense Department land, air and naval forces operating in or offshore and DISA has quickly adapted its satellite services to meet the evolving communications requirements of the tsunami relief operation, Robertson said.

This includes expanding the coverage area of mobile satellite phone service provided by Iridium Satellite LLC through DISA's Enhance Mobile Satellite Services Robertson said. DISA has now added satphone coverage to the northeast coast of Sri Lanka, Robertson said, insuring that DOD personnel working in all areas hit areas hit by the tsunami can use their satellite phones.

Navy units deployed on the tsunami humanitarian aid mission, including the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier, operating offshore Indonesia and the USS Bonhomme Richard helicopter carrier, operating offshore Sri Lanka, are equipped with "Challenge Athena" C-band satellite dishes which use commercial satellite networks.

Ground units providing humanitarian relief, including the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, aboard the Bonhomme Richard also have wide band satellite systems which use commercial satellite systems, which Robertson said DISA can quickly increase its satellite capacity to meet demand as the communications requirements of the humanitarian relief operation increases.

Robertson added that DISA plans to field its Defense Collaborative Tool Suite to CSF-536 which will provide operational planners with a number of tools, including VTC, electronic white boarding, instant messaging and other tools designed to support collaborative planning.

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