Defense

Army to test crucial software tools

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The Army will test enhanced software tools this spring that are critical to upgrading the vast communications network that supports soldiers worldwide.

The tools will help soldiers configure and defend the global communications network known as the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical. In a press release, the Army described the software upgrades as a second set of eyes on WIN-T, whose second increment reached "full-rate production" in June. U.S. troops in Afghanistan have used WIN-T Increment 2 for connectivity in remote areas.

The tools provide "a picture of actual on-the-move network battlefield conditions at all times, so if there is any break in the communications, it is known right away," said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Gourlie, a satellite communications systems operator, in a statement.

The new software is meant to be simpler than its predecessor, eliminating human error through automation. The upgrades are also intended to help improve visualization of the network, making it easier to defend from cyberthreats.

The tools will be tested along with WIN-T Increment 3 at Fort Bliss, Texas, and at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, the Army said.

If all goes well, the Army will use the new software in WIN-T in fiscal 2017.

"The biggest benefit is the increased usability piece of the [network operation] tools and the enhancement of monitoring capabilities," said Charles Coker, an instructor at the Army's Cyber Center of Excellence, in a statement. "It provides personnel with a robust software solution for better management of the network, and it also allows soldiers to probe into the network to troubleshoot connectivity issues."

"The user interface is easy to circumnavigate as the tools provide you step-by-step guidance towards planning, installing and managing your unit's tactical network," he added.

The Army said the software upgrades will help the service move toward using one suite of tools to manage WIN-T and the lower tactical radio networks.

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.

Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.

Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.


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