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U.S., Latin American Navies Improve Ability to Communicate At Sea

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS080709-01
Release Date: 7/9/2008 4:04:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alan Gragg, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command Public Affairs

MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- The first tactical use of the Inter-American Naval Telecommunications Network's (IANTN) Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System (CENTRIXS) will begin at the end of July, aboard Brazilian Navy ship (BNS) Greenhalgh (F-46) and USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) operating in support of multinational joint task force exercises off the coast of Virginia.

IANTN is a classified network supporting 16 member navies operating in Latin America. The network, established in 1962, provides those navies a means to exchange critical information. Since the 1980s, the network has been primarily a satellite communication system. Within the last year, IANTN participants have made CENTRIXS upgrades to begin using encrypted connections over the Internet to exchange information at sea.

"This provides a capability for all of the IANTN member countries to interoperate securely among themselves," said Cmdr. David Wirth, IANTN secretary. "This is not a network between the United States and an individual country, this is a collective, secure network that provides interoperability among its member countries and therefore, will be able to support the collective security of the region."

Greenhalgh will use CENTRIXS while participating in Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group's composite training unit exercise and joint task force exercise in July and August.

"Brazil already operates with many friendly navies at sea, but ship communications during such exercises rely heavily on clear voice nets and tactical link systems," said Cmdr. Claudio H. Mello, Greenhalgh's commanding officer. "Until the installation of CENTRIXS-IANTN, there had been no secure and fast means of communication, in either chat or e-mail, with U.S. ships at sea."

The upgrade of the IANTN network to a CENTRIXS network accessible by ships at sea is aligned with the U.S. Maritime Strategy, which emphasizes the importance of working with international partners as the basis for global maritime security.

"The Maritime Strategy specifically understands that the United States does not have the resources to police all the oceans," said Wirth. "It's going to take a collective desire for security within the region, and countries working together to that end, to actually be able to achieve what we're trying to do in the Maritime Strategy."

The IANTN upgrades have been very well received among our partner nations. They're very enthusiastic to do the secure collaboration and communication that IANTN will provide [through CENTRIXS]."

IANTN's 16 member countries include Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, México, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Perú, United States and Uruguay.

"The more we are able to talk, the more we are able to understand each other, and the more we understand each other, the more we can build mutual trust," said Mello.

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