Collaborating for the future of communications security integration

More than 280 civilian and industry representatives gathered to discuss current and future COMSEC integration issues and concerns, and ways they can be solved during the eighth annual Communications Security, COMSEC Integration Integrated Product Team, or IPT, held April 4 -6 at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. | Photo by Harris Siegel, PEO C3T

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, MD — More than 280 civilian and industry representatives from across the Army and Department of Defense, or DOD, attended the eighth annual Communications Security, COMSEC Integration Integrated Product Team, or IPT, held April 4 -6 to discuss current and future integration issues and concerns, and ways that they can be solved.

Program Management Office Network Enablers, or PMO Net E, under Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, known as PEO C3T, holds the IPT each spring to promote integration within the COMSEC community. It achieves this objective through reduced product costs, shorter acquisition schedules, enhanced product performance, and improved security for Army and DOD systems, and the Warfighters and COMSEC professionals who use them.

Brig. Gen. Karl H. Gingrich, PEO C3T assistant PEO for Operations, Readiness and Fielding, set the tone during his keynote address on April 4 when he challenged the audience to maintain a Soldier’s perspective of COMSEC throughout the event.

“I want you to stay focused on the big picture, listen critically to what’s going on out in the field and to advocate for our Soldiers,” he said.

Gingrich pointed out that units are struggling with the distribution and management of COMSEC, and the procedures required to load every individual Controlled Cryptographic Item (CCI), which is any secure telecommunications, information handling equipment or other hardware item that performs a critical COMSEC function. Gingrich used the example of downloading an app on a cell phone, stating that no one reads the technical manual first; he or she simply starts using the app.

“That’s the mentality and lack of complexity we need to focus on for our Soldiers,” Gingrich said. “If it’s a challenge to bring a system up to an operational status, then we are not supporting readiness.”

In synch with Gingrich’s message, the forum continued with briefings, panels and breakout sessions to facilitate collaboration with other organizations on COMSEC products and solutions over the next two days.

For example, the PMO Net E partnership with Tobyhanna Army Depot, or TYAD, is vital to the sustainment of COMSEC. A cradle-to-grave operation, TYAD provides support to PMO Net E through the receipt, inventory, storage, shipping, packaging, fielding, and lifecycle maintenance of a product.

It is also responsible for the demilitarization of up to 250,000 CCI devices per year. TYAD is one of many organizations that are integral in providing improved security functionality, integration, automation and cost effectiveness of Army COMSEC products and services.

Product Lead COMSEC Cryptographic Systems, or PdL CCS, and Product Lead Key Management, PdL KM, are key players in providing COMSEC solutions. PdL CCS procures, tests and fields solutions to secure the Army’s information infrastructure against cyber threats, while PdL KM allows the Army to manage and distribute electronic key necessary to communicate and distribute data on the Army’s tactical and strategic networks.

“PMO Net E is working with the entire acquisition community to ensure we have the best COMSEC available to the Army,” said Stan Niemiec, project lead Network Enablers. “The IPT is the one opportunity where we bring together all stakeholders to focus on integration and to discuss where we are going with our roadmaps.”

“As the cyber threat to our network continues to grow, so does the importance of COMSEC,” Niemiec said.

Consequently, PMO Net E and its Army and industry partners are in constant pursuit of creating and delivering the most intuitive and simplified solutions for the Soldier, without compromising COMSEC.

About PEO C3T

PEO C3T develops, acquires, fields and supports the Army’s mission command network to ensure force readiness. This critical Army modernization priority delivers tactical communications so commanders and Soldiers can stay connected and informed at all times, even in the most austere and hostile environments. PEO C3T is delivering the network to regions around the globe, enabling high-speed, high-capacity voice, data and video communications to a user base that includes the Army’s joint, coalition and other mission partners.

By Bridget Lynch, PEO C3T

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