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CHIPS Articles: Next Generation Expeditionary C2 Debuts at RIMPAC

Next Generation Expeditionary C2 Debuts at RIMPAC
By Krishna Jackson, PEO C4I Public Affairs - July 11, 2016
The Navy’s Shore and Expeditionary Integration Program Office (PMW 790) recently achieved an important milestone for one of the many command and control (C2) systems it develops and deploys — the Deployable Joint Command and Control (DJC2) Next Generation Enclave (NGE). This latest development in C2 systems was set up in Hawaii for use during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), which kicked off June 30, 2016.

As part of continuous modernization efforts and in response to demands from forward deployed commanders, PMW 790 has developed the DJC2 NGE to support global operations with lower size, weight and power (SWaP) requirements. The previous DJC2 has supported joint task force (JTF) and combatant commanders during real-world humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HADR) operations around the world since 2003.

“Operationally, DJC2 has been deployed extensively in support of HADR missions such as Hurricane Katrina back in 2005, the earthquakes in Haiti [2010] and Nepal [2015], the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan [2011], and the Ebola relief effort in Liberia [2014],” said Anthony Vanaria, PMW 790 joint expeditionary assistant program manager.

PMW 790 is working with partners from industry and academia to create and test the latest configuration during RIMPAC.

“The NGE gives us an increased capability to support the multinational contingent present at RIMPAC, and it does so on a diet,” said Jake Rakestraw, DJC2 operational demonstration planner and subject matter expert (SME) from New Venture Research Corporation. “The ability to support the expanding needs of the RIMPAC HADR with a smaller, more efficient system is a milestone event."

Diana Akins, of the Georgia Tech Research Institute, a DJC2 and Navy shore and expeditionary project command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance SME, explained, “We are working with PMW 790 to develop hardware and software solutions that move beyond interoperability and achieve true convergence into a common expeditionary and shore baseline supporting joint and Navy users for the foreseeable future.”

Despite the critical role DJC2 fills for JTF commanders as their forward-deployed headquarters, DJC2’s size and weight make it intensive to transport. Its standard JTF headquarters configuration is known as the core configuration and consists of five enclaves that combine to weigh well over a ton. Each enclave is made up of individual components such as laptops, computer terminals, servers, peripherals, a networking suite and supporting infrastructure. Even a slightly scaled-down version, the early-entry (EE) configuration, with only three enclaves, is cumbersome to deploy, taking up 20 transport cases weighing 2,727 total pounds.

DJC2 already needed a technical refresh for its heavily used components as well as to incorporate the latest advances in cybersecurity. Like many systems today, technology advancements allowed DJC2 to be modernized so it can do more with less, meaning less bulk and more capability. The necessary SWaP reductions and enhanced cybersecurity changes were suited to be explored simultaneously because expert personnel believed the upcoming system technical refresh could accomplish both objectives.

The vision for NGE was to reduce SWaP requirements while increasing the cybersecurity posture to reach levels comparable to the latest and emerging commercial technologies but with the ability to manage the system virtually, rather than requiring a large cadre of information technology (IT) support.

“It’s common practice for us to conduct technical insertion and technical refresh updates in order to modernize and avoid obsolescence of fielded systems,” Vanaria said. “We also continuously seek to enhance our products’ cybersecurity posture and reduce SWaP requirements, which should equate to lowered cost in fabrication, operation and sustainment.”

The effort to modernize DJC2 started in 2015 with research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) analysis of alternatives and proof of concept for hardware and software configuration changes.

Personnel working on the RDT&E effort determined multiple solutions, each with its own advantages, risks and barriers. The first consideration was to upgrade the traditional server enclave setup, but this did not provide the necessary reduction in SWaP. Another design consideration involved a converged infrastructure, meaning downsizing the compute, storage and networking capabilities to a single equipment chassis.

“What was most attractive about the converged infrastructure design was the reduced number of IT support personnel needed to maintain the system,” Vanaria said. “Unfortunately, a converged infrastructure does not support the SWaP reductions we were looking for and we therefore knew that solutions beyond a converged infrastructure design would need to be examined.”

Since the converged infrastructure was not a viable option due to the SWaP issue, developers next explored a hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) layout. HCI accomplishes two major goals of modernization — virtualizing servers in order for them to operate as individual virtual machines dedicated to specific tasks and virtualizing data to enhance security. Virtualization compartmentalizes servers and allows operators to access and store data on dedicated secure servers offsite, which helps mitigate the potential for loss of data if the system is compromised. The HCI also offers lowered maintenance requirements, which saves personnel and maintenance costs.

Although HCI provided all the bells and whistles the developers were looking for, the SWaP issue was not completely solved and developers therefore are exploring a solution beyond HCI for future iterations of the DJC2.

This next logical step beyond HCI is a fabric-based infrastructure (FBI), which has the advantages provided by HCI but also includes cloud or data center storage. These features enable virtual expansion rather than physical expansion, but FBI does not meet today’s cybersecurity requirements. Therefore, DJC2 personnel opted to adopt the HCI solution now, confident that SWaP goals will be achieved and that another DJC2 system technical refresh will occur in three to five years, well before HCI-based SWaP advances would be negated.

“Currently, support manning is a considerable part of managing operation of DJC2 in the field,” Jennifer Stitt, DJC2 program execution manager for PMW 790, said. “Reducing the need to have a team of technicians on hand is critical to cost savings. Incorporating virtual machines will move much of the maintenance and management of the system out of the field. This not only provides a cost benefit, but also provides added cyber security measures.”

Procurement of the DJC2 NGE has begun, and fielding will start in fiscal year 2017. Forward deployed commanders will immediately see the benefits of the upgraded C2 system.

“The three-enclave EE configuration will go from 20 transit cases with 78 racks to four transit cases with 16 racks that take just one and half hours to set up,” Vanaria said. “The five-enclave standard core configuration will have similar proportional SWaP reductions.”

PMW 790 also is procuring a DJC2 NGE for its Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Enterprise Tactical C2 solution. Additionally, the Navy’s Carrier and Air Integration Program Office (PMW 750) Tactical Mobile program has expressed interest in procuring NGE for its Tactical Operations Center and Mobile Tactical Operations Center solutions.

“Clearly, NGE is the right emerging technology at the right time,” Vanaria said.

in the series that began in 1971. U.S. Navy Combat Camera photo by Mass Communication Specialist First Class Ace Rheaume.
PEARL HARBOR (July 1, 2016) An aerial view of ships moored at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for Rim of the Pacific 2016. Twenty-six nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft, and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 30 to Aug. 4, in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world's largest International maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world's oceans. RIMPAC 2016 is the 25th exercise in the series that began in 1971. U.S. Navy Combat Camera photo by Mass Communication Specialist First Class Ace Rheaume.

to provide rapidly deployable and scalable communications services to a full joint task force headquarters. Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force.
(Sept. 9, 2013) Personnel from the Joint Communications Support Element (JCSE), headquartered in Tampa, Fla., transported and set up a Deployable Joint Command and Control system in support of the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command's most recent Mission Readiness Exercise (MRX). This MRX further validated JCSE's ability to provide rapidly deployable and scalable communications services to a full joint task force headquarters. Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force.

hours after arrival in a theater of operations anywhere in the world. U.S. Navy photo by IT2 April Zapata, NSWC Dam Neck Public Affairs.
(Jan. 14, 2010) The DJC2 Second Fleet Demonstrator is loaded onto USS Bataan (LHD 5) on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2010 to deploy to Haiti. The DJC2 systems are the solution to the Joint Warfighter's need to rapidly deploy a Joint Task Force Command and Control Headquarters and have it fully operational in less than 24 hours after arrival in a theater of operations anywhere in the world. U.S. Navy photo by IT2 April Zapata, NSWC Dam Neck Public Affairs.

(July 1, 2016) The Navy’s Shore and Expeditionary Integration Program Office (PMW 790) and partners from industry and academia are testing the latest configuration for the portable command and control (C2) system during the multi-national exercise, Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC). The image shows the consolidated configuration and lowered size, weight and power requirements (SWaP) as compared to the previous configuration, which required a minimum of 20 transit cases holding 78 racks depending on the type of enclave. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy.
(July 1, 2016) The Navy’s Shore and Expeditionary Integration Program Office (PMW 790) and partners from industry and academia are testing the latest configuration for the portable command and control (C2) system during the multi-national exercise, Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC). The image shows the consolidated configuration and lowered size, weight and power requirements (SWaP) as compared to the previous configuration, which required a minimum of 20 transit cases holding 78 racks depending on the type of enclave. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy.
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