In a first, Army and Air Force share one network at joint base

The Pentagon’s plans for the Joint Information Environment is a step closer to reality, with the Army and Air Force* showing how a significant part of it can work at Joint Base San Antonio.

Working with the Defense Information Systems Agency, the services this month implemented the Defense Department’s first Joint Regional Security Stack, putting online traffic from Fort Sam Houston and Lackland Air Force Base on the same network, the Army said in a release. It’s expected to be fully operational sometime this winter.

The stack, known as JRSS, streamlines traffic, boosts bandwidth and improved security on the network, the Army said. Eventually, DOD expects that JRSS implementations around the world will cut department-wide top-level security stacks from about 1,000 to 50, boosting security by centralizing security configurations and providing a more manageable perimeter. The shared architecture also is expected to cut costs.

"This is a tremendous step in terms of transitioning to a joint security architecture and making the joint information environment a reality," Mike Krieger, Army deputy CIO/G-6, said in the release. "It also speaks to successful teaming by the Army, DISA and the Air Force, and the Army's initial investment in this new joint capability."

JIE is the military’s plan for an interoperable, cloud-based IT architecture capable of accommodating all of the military services, other DOD components and coalition partners. Transition began with DOD Enterprise Email, which has been adopted by the Army, much of the Air Force and other component agencies, and a JIE implementation last year in Europe.

The upgrade at San Antonio includes the implementation of routers supporting Multi-Protocol Label Switching, a technology for speeding up and managing traffic flow. DISA will install MPLS-supported routers at 22 locations this year and plans bring that total to 90 by next September. Eventually, the faster backbone will allow the delivery of enterprise services to outer installations and the tactical edge, the Army said. Along with the installation of about 11,000 Ethernet switches at nine locations this year—and more planned for 2015—the Army and DISA plan to boost network backbone bandwidth from 10 gigabits per second to 100 Gbps.

The next implementation of JRSS is expected later this fall in Europe, where the move to JIE has seen its most success. In a piece posted on the DODLive website in April, Army Lt. Gen. Mark Bowman, director of C4 and CIO of the Joint Staff, wrote that the U.S. European Command’s implementation was two years ahead of schedule. Joint Base San Antonio, he pointed out, wasn’t even on the JIE schedule, but leaders there took the initiative work toward JIE when they saw the opportunity.

* The first sentence of this article initially stated that it was the Army and Navy, not the Army and Air Force.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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