Upgraded Command & Control app improves crisis response

  • Published
  • By Benjamin Newell
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs
Acquisition personnel here are upgrading the Unit Command and Control system, giving commanders access to information about their assets during exercises and real-world events.

If, for instance, a midsized Air Force installation in the Midwest is threatened by an off-base prairie fire, the commander must know where his people and resources are in order to protect his assets and marshal a response. Calling up an upgraded UC2 system on the network in minutes provides relevant checklists and updated lists and locations for transportation assets, aircraft and fire-fighting units. Awareness like this can reduce the uncertainty generated by disasters, and be used during everyday operations to increase accountability.

“Having been inside the room where people are scrambling for this information and communication is difficult, I can say this is extremely useful,” said Capt. Kurt Carlson, the UC2 program manager. “Sooner or later, you will have an exercise, a deployment or a real-world event requiring instant awareness of the number of people on your base and the resources at your disposal. UC2 provides that effortlessly.”

UC2 is currently operated at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina; Tinker AFB, Oklahoma; Moody AFB, Georgia; and Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. Three more Air Combat Command and two non-ACC bases will receive UC2 in approximately 90 days, according to Carlson. In addition, six U.S. Air Forces in Europe installations currently run UC2.

“This is a (Combat Air Force) mandated requirement that all bases use this system,” said Carlson. “If you think about it, that makes sense, since CAF forces are most likely to provide forces directly to combatant commanders. Tracking what you can provide, and when you can provide it, is critical.”

Carlson’s team is responsible for working with the contractor, Leidos, an information technology company based in Reston, Virginia, to integrate feedback from user installations into the program. They also ensure the system is secure. UC2 operates on both Non-classified Internet Protocol Router (NIPR) and Secure Internet Protocol Router (SIPR) networks, allowing classified information to be stored separately and securely. Command post Airmen are responsible for maintaining the system, loading updated logistics numbers as they come in from each base unit.

“We scan the program all the time,” said 2nd Lt. Michael Byon, a cyber security engineer assigned to the UC2 program. “We’re working on a mandated risk management framework, meaning we follow strict security protocols set out by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Everything from the software to the servers is protected.”

UC2 installation is simple for bases, according to Carlson. Installations slated for the system upgrade receive a team of engineers who install and run the necessary systems on classified and unclassified systems. The base then completes inputting information, and updates it regularly. The total installation time is seven to 10 days.