JANUS Assists 35th Expeditionary Signal Battalion with Puerto Rico Fielding
FORT BUCHANAN, PUERTO RICO
Story by Pfc. Christina Westfall
24th Press Camp Headquarters
The 35th Expeditionary Signal Battalion fields new Commercial Coalition Equipment (CCE) across Puerto Rico that provides voice and data services to build communication efforts throughout the island after Hurricane Maria, Oct. 22, 2017.
CCE is a portable system provided by Project Manager Tactical Networks that provides network connectivity not limited to government computers. It is a small case that can be connected to the 35th ESB's Joint Network Node (JNN) through a fiberglass wire. The JNN is used primarily for government computers with Secret Internet Protocol Router and Non-Secure Internet Protocol Router authorizations.
NIPR is the Department of Defense network used to disseminate sensitive, but unclassified information, while SIPR is used to share classified up to secret information.
When CCE is connected to JNN, the CCE changes the network setting allowing for the Internet and phone to be commercial, so it becomes useful to people who do not have the authorizations to use SIPR and NIPR network configurations.
"This is important because setting up these commercial cases enable the Reserve component, FEMA, and other federal agencies helping with relief efforts to increase communications making it easier to access sites with little or no restrictions," said Cecil Hauser, a field engineer with Janus Research Group.
The way the JNN works in this specific instance is by using frequencies from Fort Bragg, North Carolina that hit a satellite dish and bounces back to the JNN.
"Each CCE can technically service about 30 phones and 30 laptops, but because of the service available through satellite, I would recommend 10 phones and 15 laptops maximum," said Michael Salaun, a retired Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 and a field network engineer with PM Tactical Networks.
There are currently 14 JNN components with attached CCEs set up at the reserve centers across the island. The phones and laptops have to be plugged into the boxes to access the network.
"However, the fielding process does present some obstacles," said Salaun. "Ideally, when we field to a unit, we set aside load time, training, and an operations test. With the Puerto Rico mission, all aspects are combined in a real world scenario."
Due to Hurricane Maria, the units did not have the time to prepare beforehand. The Soldiers in 35th ESB are learning to use and maintain the CCEs for long-term use alongside the field engineers so that the Reserve component can eventually maintain and operate this equipment by themselves.
"The main mission right now is to provide communication across the island for operational support," said 2Lt. Gilmar Ruiz, a program manager with 35th Expeditionary Signal Battalion and Bayamon, Puerto Rico native. "We're essentially providing FEMA and other organizations with direct access to Internet and phone capabilities to help them complete their missions."