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Director, Operational Test & Evaluation
FY97 Annual Report

FY97 Annual Report


DISA Special Interest IT Program
Total program cost (TY$) $5.6B
Full-rate production (IOC) 3QFY97

Prime Contractor
MCI Communications Corp.
American Telephone & Telegraph
Boeing Information Services


The DISN is the backbone worldwide communications network essential to information superiority and Joint Vision 2010. It is the DoD's consolidated enterprise-level telecommunications infrastructure providing the end-to-end information transfer for military operations. It is to be transparent to its users, instrumental in the management of information resources, and responsive to national security and defense needs under all conditions. It is also to provide the warfighter with a full range of Government-controlled and secure information transfer services that can be quickly extended to all areas of the globe for exchanging voice, data, and imagery. The DISN infrastructure consists of a continental United States (CONUS) segment including sustaining bases, European and Pacific theater segments, a space segment, and a deployable capability. It will span strategic, space, and tactical arenas as well as the telecommunications networks of non-defense departments and agencies. The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) acquires the Long-Haul (LH) block of DISN while the Services and agencies acquire the sustaining base and tactical deployed blocks. The DISN acquisition strategy maximizes the use of commodity services, existing commercial and government technology, international and commercial standards, and previously implemented DISA router and multiplexer networks. DISN is the primary carrier for all DoD value-added services such as the Defense Message System, the Global Command and Control System, and Electronic Commerce/ Electronic Data Interchange capabilities. Whenever possible, telecommunications services will be used from the Federal Telecommunications System (FTS2000) contracts; however, the many military unique features of DISN require that DISN be a DoD acquired and controlled network.


The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence approved the DISN strategy in December of 1994 and placed the DISA LH block of DISN on OSD oversight. In May of 1997, DISN was designated a special interest information technology initiative subject to oversight by the DoD Chief Information Officer. Since most DISN services are obtained through modified commercial contracts from private vendors worldwide, the "total program cost" shown above actually represents the maximum life cycle contract value for the principal segments of DISN-LH/CONUS capabilities, which will replace the exiting DISN Transition Contract capabilities. These principal segments are only three out of over thirty segments of the mature DISN; they are MCI's Switched/Bandwidth Manager Services, the AT&T's Transmission Services, and AT&T's Video Services-Global (DVS-G). Boeing provides support services to DISA for these segments. After functional and government-conducted security testing at the MCI laboratories and the Network Operating Center (NOC), cutovers to DISN LH/CONUS began June 9,1997 of this year. This cutover and testing process is expected to continue throughout this calendar year with the DVS-G implementation beginning in the Fall.


An extensive installation and acceptance test/interoperability testing effort supports the DISN LH/CONUS cutover at more than 600 posts, bases, and camps nationwide. The Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC) planned this developmental testing with the assistance of DISA, other agencies, and the Services. The OT&E division of JITC, along with Service and agency support, is conducting tests which concentrate on system wide issues and operational realism in the following areas: military unique features such as government control of the network, security management, multi-level precedence and preemption, surge capability, trouble reporting for government prioritization, and interoperability with tactical units, allies, the public phone system, and other emergency systems.


Testing is ongoing in conjunction with the rolling cutover process. However, testing is behind schedule, and may be completed by December 1998. One finding to date is the alternative network operating center (ANOC) could not keep up with and maintain visibility of the network status if the primary NOC went out. This problem has been tracked to a fixable software problem. Until it is fixed, the current work around does degrade operations. The risk in DISN is its impact on other systems that depend on the capability and stability of the network. The replacement for AUTODIN, Defense Message System and Global Command and Control System (GCCS) are examples of systems that are linked to the success of DISN.


Nearly all of the our most critical command and control and intelligence systems are migrating onto DISN as their consolidated communications carrier. To keep costs down, provide flexibility, and keep pace with technological change in communications, DISA emphasizes only slightly modified commercial service contract solutions for most of its capabilities. In combination, these two factors increase the operational impact of any Information Warfare vulnerability while limiting the degree of protection that DoD can require through vendor contracts. These factors also tend to fragment overall system management including DoD's ability to focus service capacity and traffic priority onto the most important missions. The OT&E needs to continue to emphasize user-to-user evaluation of integrated security protection, system management, and communications services.

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