Army, AF share joint information network

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During September, the Army and Air Force achieved major network security and capacity upgrades at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, in partnership with the Defense Information Systems Agency, or DISA.

This is the first Defense Department location to achieve the pairing of new switching technologies and security stacks.

Online traffic for both Fort Sam Houston and JBSA-Lackland, now flow through a new Joint Regional Security Stack, or JRSS. Full operational capability is expected this winter. In addition, network speed for end users has increased dramatically.

"This is a tremendous step in terms of transitioning to a joint security architecture and making the joint information environment a reality," said Mike Krieger, the Army deputy chief information officer. "It also speaks to successful teaming by the Army, DISA and Air Force, and the Army's initial investment in this new joint capability."

New JRSS’ will cut DOD-wide top-level security stacks from approximately 1,000 worldwide to just 50. This means the cyber perimeter becomes much more defensible.

"The JRSS Management Suite allows us to monitor and centrally control our security configurations. As new threats emerge, we can quickly assess the risk and more effectively mitigate identified risks across the enterprise," said Mark Orndorff, a DISA mission assurance executive. “JRSS also lowers costs for the entire Defense Department."

To maximize bigger information "highways," the Army and Air Force along with DISA are implementing Multi-Protocol Label Switching, or MPLS, a virtual traffic management system that makes data move faster, improves command and control, and prioritizes and smooths data flow. It reduces the chances of data being stalled or lost due to high volume and congestion.

In 2014, MPLS-supported routers are being installed at 22 locations. DISA plans to finish implementation for a total of 90 sites by September 2015. MPLS upgrades also help set the conditions to deliver enterprise services from the enterprise to installations and the tactical edge.

Current joint DISA and Army efforts will increase network backbone bandwidth more than ten-fold to 100 gigabits per second and individual Army installation capacity will increase dramatically as well. During 2014, the Army is replacing all aging building switches at nine Army installations with 11,000 ethernet switches capable of providing 10 gbps. The Army expects to upgrade more installations in 2015.

Lessons learned at JBSA will inform full-scale implementation across the continental U.S. and around the world. Short term targets include refining network upgrades at Wiesbaden, Germany, by December 2014 to achieve an initial operating capability; and installing two JRSS in Southwest Asia.

"A modern network means having enough capacity and reach to support all operational and institutional needs; enough flexibility to add new technologies as soon as they are available; and strong enough security to prevent compromise of the network itself and the information it carries," Krieger said.

(Information courtesy of a U.S. Army news release)