The Defense Information Systems Agency worked with the U.S. Air Force’s 55th Wing to establish mobile connectivity following historic flooding in Nebraska in March.
Flooding began March 15, eventually covering more than a third of the air wing’s installation, Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha. Sixty to 80 structures sustained water damage, with some under 7 feet of water. The flooding displaced approximately 3,200 personnel from their normal work centers, and hindered access to 55th Wing information technology systems.
The 55th Wing is the largest wing in Air Combat Command and the second largest in the Air Force. With access to the Air Force information technology (IT) systems severely limited by the flooding, IT personnel sought alternatives for reestablishing connectivity to their cloud computing environment – remote servers that can be accessed via a network connection. They reached out to the local DISA Strategic Command field office for assistance March 22.
“Sometimes military planning can seem dull, pointless, or an exercise in futility, but when the chips are down and waters are rising, military professionals know exactly what to do because of their planning and training,” said Air Force Col. Michael H. Manion, 55th Wing commander, in a March 16 Facebook post.
Within 48 hours, DISA's Defense Mobility Unclassified Capability engineering team, located at Fort George D. Meade, Maryland, and 55th Wing IT personnel were able to develop a solution using DISA’s enterprise mobility infrastructure, reconnecting 1,600 mobility devices, including smartphones and tablets, to the Air Force cloud.
“I am truly thankful for the speedy assist from our DISA mission partners,” said Nebraska Air National Guard Maj. William Torson. “It allowed us to answer our connectivity problem with a truly 21st century mobile solution. It is a great team win!”
The importance of teamwork is something Phil La Perla, acting deputy, DISA’s Cyber Operations Directorate, Operations Center hopes every agency employee understands, long before a crisis hits.
“Our primary mission as a combat support agency is to be there when our mission partner needs us. What DISA personnel do every day is to assist the warfighter in their line of work,” said La Perla. “Every person that you enable has a ripple effect that builds into a tidal wave of support. It’s something we should be cognizant of each time we interact with our mission partners. Our mission is to help them so they can help others – especially in times of crisis, like natural disasters.”
This is the second time in 12 months DISA’s mobility team has collaborated with mission partners during a natural emergency. In September 2018, the team responded to an Army request for mobile access to applications during Hurricane Florence.