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05 Oct 05. Maj. Gen. Steven W. Boutelle , lieutenant general with assignment as chief information officer/G-6, U.S. Army, gave a briefing with regard to the increase in fielding of the Joint Node Network and its run-on effects to the future multi-billion WIN-T requirement (MSE replacement program) currently being jointly developed by Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics.

The 3rd Infantry Division has already replaced a 15-year-old communications system with an Internet-inspired system that will substantially increase its communications capabilities and support its conversion to a modular formation.

Replacing the Army’s Mobile Subscriber Equipment (MSE) is the Joint Network Node(JNN) network, a mobile system that uses an array of networking components operating out of headquarters at division, brigade combat team and battalion echelons.

The JNN takes advantage of satellite access and up-to-date commercial Internet technology to increase bandwidth throughout the division and improve the reliability and agility of the communications network, according to Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) “Trail Boss” for 3rd Infantry Division Task Force Modularity, Lt. Col. Vincent A. Amos.

Unlike MSE, JNN allows Soldiers to route secure communications through commercial satellites, which is useful when units extend beyond the reach of line-of-sight radio links.

The JNN will also provide Voice-over Internet Protocol. “This is the industry standard today. IP-based voice is more efficient use of bandwidth than the old circuit switched voice system used by MSE,” said Amos.

“The JNN provides capability to the maneuver battalion now that used to belong to only the brigade,” said Maj. Janice Sharkey, 3rd Infantry Division Network Operations officer.

Among the new services provided to the 3rd Infantry Division’s maneuver battalions are video-teleconferencing, Secret and Non-Secure Internet Protocol Routing Network (SIPRNET and NIPRNET) and the Defense Information Systems Network (DISN).

Those services will be provided at the battalion level by the Battalion Command Post Node (BnCPN), a part of the JNN network that consists of a trailer-mounted satellite antenna and several transit cases filled with gear to connect communications service to battalion commanders and staffs.

Agility is increased with JNN because it allows for routing communications via satellite or line-of-sight radios, according to Amos.

The MSE network relies almost exclusively on “line-of-sight” radio
communications, so named because they rely on radio antennas set up on the earth’s surface but subject to interference by distance and earthly terrain.

“When you use the satellite-based system you can move it further than the line-of-sight link,” said Sharkey. “For example, I can support fourth brigade going to Joint Readiness Training Center, La., from Fort Stewart, Ga.. Otherwise I would draw those same services from Fort Polk, La.”

Since July, more than 500 students, mostly Soldiers, have attended eight classes so they can operate and maintain the Joint Network Transport Capability, according to Escol “Sonny” Smith, support representative from Project Manger Tactical Radio Communications Systems.

“I feel good about it. It was time for a change. Once we get the hang of it the new equipment will be a whole lot better,” said Staff Sgt. Clayborne Taylor, network switching systems operator for Detachment 2, 3rd Signal Company.

Taylor finished a 10-week course last week on the Joint Network Node, a brigade-level, Humvee mounted communications assembly that is the heart of the JNTC. “They’ll notice a difference in the services we provide,” he said.

JNN’s development began in the fall of 2003 with an operational need identified by the Combined Arms Center, Fort Leavenworth, Kans.


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