Joint Network Node (JNN)

The Joint Network Node (JNN) is an element of the Army's Joint Network Transport Capability (JNTC), a federation of networks that enables the Army's transformation to modular, flexible units by providing networking resources at the unit of execution level. The JNTC is an interim system that will eventually evolve into part of the Army's future tactical network (Warfighter Information Network - Tactical or WIN-T).

The US Army fought OIF with an obsolete C4 architecture - MSE. This situation was a direct result of the sluggish response of the acquisition processes to the revolution in communications that occurred throughout the 1990's. The communications TOE scarcely changed, even as the Army's own analysis revealed that communication bandwidth across all of its divisions would be insufficient by FY 2002. There was only a modest remedy in MSE equipment to adjust for the looming, exponential increase in bandwidth requirements.

In the wake of OIF-1, the immediate C4 fix was an un-programmed solution known as the Joint Network Node. The US Army, riding the crest of congressional supplemental budget increases for follow-on OIF rotations, was well on the way to fixing the C4 bandwidth problem good, fast, and cheap. Communications engineers at Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey and Ft. Gordon, Georgia, and a commercial contractor have created the JNN package. The JNN is not a program of record. Programs of record, like WIN-T, have purposefully rigid requirements and a milestone review process that lasts a decade or more.

JNN is commercial equipment packaged in tactical shelters that may be likened to an internet department on wheels. This differs from legacy equipment in the tactical communications architecture, virtually all of which was uniquely built for the military. The commercial components of JNN are used for both strategic and tactical communications. The commercial names on the components inside the S-250 shelter of the JNN terminal are like any other network facility in the commercial world or on any fixed-station military installation. These CiscoT routers and ProminaT switches are non-developmental items. Their combination in an S-250 shelter, configured to satisfy battlefield requirements, may be unique, but it does not require a decade-long acquisition process simply to impose configuration management.

JNN consists of vehicles equipped with satellite communications as well as voice-over-IP and dynamic IP technologies and systems that connect to military networks. One 2.4M dish Ku band satellite transportable terminal (STT) is fielded with the JNN to provide direct reachback capabilities to higher command and or strategic enclaves using FDMA and TDMA. The JNN can provide up to 3 Mbps FDMA satellite communications and is capable of shared bursts up to 4 Mbps to the CPN. The JNN supports user interfaces into NIPRNET and SIPRNET data networks. Four transit cases support the user interfaces into red and black voice networks, network and management service components, and voice over internet protocol (VoIP) phones. One additional transit case containing the Battlefield Video Teleconferencing (BVTC) which provides the management of teleconferencing using both H.320 and H.323 multimedia communication standards.

What JNN does is extend the military installation to the warfighter. And JNN provides sufficient bandwidth. In OIF, virtually every enterprise, including the DoD, had what combat soldiers did not - adequate bandwidth. The JNN terminal extends voice, video, and data capability to the battlefield with a data rate and distance reach not replicable by MSE. In effect, it gives both the secure (SIPR) and non-secure (NIPR) internet to the soldier. Its "beyond line-of-sight" capability is made possible with the addition of a satellite communications terminal. All of this is packaged in a transportable communications S-250 shelter and a trailer transports the satellite communications terminal.

The system provides a communications gateway and interoperability with legacy tactical communications assets and includes shelters and transit cases. The conversion from an MSE-based to a JNN-based system means that Soldiers will be able to interface more effectively with the other services and coalition members. JNN has more interfaces, more capacity, is lighter, easier to set up and maintain and works with satellites, a feature that makes communication less prone to interference from earthly terrain and allows for systems to be widely dispersed without the use of radio relays.

The increase in capability will also be felt greatly at the battalion level, which will receive satellite communications trailers and transit-cased switch systems as part of the JNTC. Battalion commanders will now have a very capable communications capability tying back in to those JNNs at the brigade level. When they prepare for a movement or a patrol mission the battalion will be able to access much needed information which could include maps, graphics, photographs, extensive descriptions of the mission terrain and potential threats- this helps them plan out the mission and to have key intelligence on where they're going, which could save soldiers lives.

The Unit Hub Node (UHN) connects the time division multiple access (TDMA) and frequency division multiple access (FDMA) Ku band satellite network architectures together. The UHN provides end-to-end Ku band satellite link network connectivity which will allow tactical JNN access into the standard tactical entry point (STEP), teleport, Defense Information Systems Network (DISN), and the Defense Switched Network (DSN) services. The UHN consists of three major communications assemblages: the baseband shelter and two combined TDMA and FDMA satellite shelters. The JNN is also capable of simultaneous STEP and or joint interface through the UHN.

The JNN is located at the division and BCT levels. The JNN consists of a high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle (HMMWV) mounted S-250 shelter communications platform that allows a division and BCT headquarters to assume control of critical pieces of network services, network management, and prioritization when the division and BCT fights as a whole. The division and BCT JNN connect into the UHN for end-to-end network service connection into the GIG, DISN, and DSN. With the use of a division and BCT JNN, the divisional and BCT G-6 or S-6 will assume network responsibility from Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM) to allow the communications support plan to mirror the tactical priority of effort.

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