Army adding gigabit wireless to its tactical network

The Army is accelerating its ability to set up its battlefield tactical network by employing Aruba’s Command Post Wi-Fi, a secure gigabit-capacity wireless system that uses encryption approved by the National Security Agency.

The IEEE 802.11 suite will be used by the Army, National Guard and Reserves in the Army’s Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, according to an announcement by the company. It includes NSA Suite B, also known as Commercial Solutions for Classified, which provides cryptography for unclassified and the majority of classified information for wireless military Wi-Fi networks.

Just as important for units on the move, it can cut down the time it takes to set up or tear down access to WIN-T from hours to a matter of minutes, while eliminating the need to lay a lot of cable.

WIN-T Increment 1 equipment

Aruba's Command Post Wi-Fi will work with WIN-T Increment 1.

Aruba, a division of Hewlett-Packard, will deploy Command Post Wi-Fi as part of WIN-T Increment 1, which takes the tactical network to the battalion level. The Army also is deploying Increment 2, which extends the command-and-control view to the company level, with communications nodes mounted on vehicles such as Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicles and Strykers. Last June, the service received authorization to take Increment 2 into full-rate productions.

Eventually, the Army plans to bring WIN-T to dismounted soldiers in the field with Increment 3, which currently is being developed and tested.

For now, tactical command posts will be upgrades with Aruba kits that include indoor and outdoor gigabit Wi-Fi access points, 7000 Series Cloud Services Controllers with RFProtect, Policy Enforcement Firewall and Advanced Cryptography, and AirWave for network management, the company said. The kits were purchased through the Army’s Common Hardware Systems-4 contract, a $3.7 billion, five-year deal awarded in 2011 to streamline procurement while increasing the interoperability of commercial items used by the service.

“Operational flexibility is critical to modern military practices,” said Jon Green, Senior Director of Security Architecture for Aruba. “Aruba’s Command Post Wi-Fi solution gives armed forces the maneuverability they need, backed by the secure, robust network access they require, to accomplish their missions and achieve their objectives.”

About the Author

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

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