DISA command gears up for comms exercise in Africa

The Defense Information Systems Agency command responsible for helping bring about interoperability among different U.S. forces and coalition partners is preparing to deploy this summer for exercises with the U.S. Africa Command, DISA said April 8.

The Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC) will participate in the 10-day communications exercise known as Africa Endeavor scheduled for the first half of August, DISA said. The exercise will take place in Lusaka, Zambia.

The primary objective of Africa Endeavor is to increase the command, control, and communications capabilities of African nations by encouraging interoperable tactics, training, and procedures, as well as by creating documented standards that support interoperability.

The organization will participate in Africa Endeavor 2013 by testing and documenting command, control, communications, and information systems (C3IS) interoperability among the participating nations and organizations in a collaborative test-bed environment, DISA said. The data collected during this forum will be used as a planning and resource tool in the development of C3IS architectures during future exercises and real-world operations.

“JITC will assist AFRICOM in identifying interoperability shortfalls and developing workable solutions to achieve interoperability at a minimum cost by emphasizing the use of equipment that meets international standards, and assist in developing long-range action plans to improve interoperability among African and partner nations,” said Army LTC Timothy Timmons, chief of the JITC Warfighter Support Division.

During the exercise, each participating nation supplies its own unique command and control (C2) equipment to an integrated coalition network intended to replicate the typical architecture used for a rapid response disaster relief situation, an African standby force deployment, or to support a humanitarian assistance mission, DISA said.

Additionally, JITC will develop and publish an Interoperability Guide. The guide will contain the assessment results and cross reference the equipment used at all past Africa Endeavor exercises. The IO Guide is produced through the JITC-developed test tool suite known as Communications Planning, Tracking, and Reporting.

CPTR is used to plan, schedule, track, and document the equipment, networks, and assessment results for Africa Endeavor and many other JITC-supported exercises, DISA said. The guide provides operational planners with valuable information to aid the development of interoperable coalition networks to support future operations.  It can be accessed via the Internet by all Africa Endeavor participating nations.

JITC was among several DISA elements, such as the Joint Spectrum Center and the DISA Africa Command Field Office, that provided support for these exercises, which forged collaborative links between the United States and African nations with common stability objectives  and security and sustainment goals.

JITC tests, operationally evaluates, and certifies IT capabilities for joint interoperability. The JITC Warfighter Support Division furnishes interoperability testing and assessments for the geographic and functional combatant commands.


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