Case Study

Deployable Mobile Headquarters Gains Communication Upgrades

Published: April 20, 2010

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GTRI researchers continue to support the U.S. military's Deployable Joint Command and Control system (DJC2) through design, test and upgrade activities. GTRI has been involved for more than six years with DJC2, which is currently operational and fielded by several Unified Combatant Commands (UCC) - forces comprised of two or more services.

DJC2 is a true system - a self-contained, self-powered temporary headquarters facility. It consists of everything from computers and networking/communications technology to tents, tables, chairs, climate-control equipment and vehicles or containers for delivery.

"The time it used to take to deploy a joint task force infrastructure was significant," said Jack Hart, a senior research engineer leading the program for GTRI. "Our forces need to be able to stand up a joint task force communications infrastructure in a very short amount of time - not two or three weeks but 72 hours or less."

The GTRI team has been responsible for designing DJC2's information-technology infrastructure since the initial prototype stage. The work has included networks, wired and wireless communications, as well as newer elements such as advanced peer-to-peer inter-networking (APPI) convergence and satellite communication terminals.

The work is directly sponsored by the DJC2 Joint Program Office. GTRI has also performed related work for the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) in Panama City, Fla.

One major hurdle, Hart explains, has involved migrating from the serial equipment originally used by the joint task forces. The serial approach was based largely on modem communications, which made tactical communications between field units and headquarters problematic.

To enable the migration, GTRI has designed a seamless, phased transition from the original equipment to Ethernet systems based on current Internet protocol (IP) technology. Hart's team created a hybrid architecture that has allowed older serial equipment to connect to new IP systems when required.

Now that the DJC2 rapid-response kit has been designed, tested and fielded, GTRI is focusing on enhancing important technical elements of the system.

Hart's team is developing a secure DJC2 wireless architecture, expected to become one of the few operational systems that is fully accredited for security. To support this wireless architecture, the team is utilizing wide band satellite communications technologies such as the Ka and X systems.

GTRI is also researching ways to further shorten DJC2 deployment times. One approach is to make field and base workstations virtually identical so that users will become oriented more quickly.

"When a JTF is deployed, it's typically a brand-new environment - people often don't get the same e-mail or application suites," Hart said. "We want everyone to sit down in the field and have everything look like what they trained on or used back in headquarters - even though that involves coordinating many moving parts."