News Defense Information Systems Network (DISN)

This White Paper Was First Written on 7 April 1994.




This paper describes the critical role of ATM technology in the DoD and provides an overview of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) strategy for aggressively managing its introduction.


The DoD is in the midst of the most dramatic downsizing since the end of the Second World War. Aggressive deployment and innovative use of information technology are the cornerstones of a credible defense in the face of such severe reductions in military personnel and budgetary resources. Today's new doctrine of Joint Operations envisioned under the Joint Staff concept of Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence for the Warfighter (C4IFTW) relies on rapid, reliable, seamless access to all information needed by the warfighter anywhere in the world at any time. The Defense Information Infrastructure (DII) will provide this critical capability and the Defense Information System Network (DISN) will provide the telecommunication services ensuring the warfighter's global access to information. The DISA developed DISN Goal Architecture recognizes ATM technology as the key building block of the evolving DISN. It alone can satisfy the warfighter's need for the extension of high bandwidth, realtime and multi-media communications to remote theaters of operation anywhere in the world. It alone holds the promise of a single technology supporting high performance data, voice and video services through the seamless integration of local and wide area networks, including those in the tactical theater of operations.


As with any new technology, especially one with the potential of ATM, there are risks. While commercial vendors are offering limited ATM services today, seamless interoperability between vendor networks simply does not exist. The DoD cannot adopt a proprietary approach that may ultimately constrain interoperability, sacrifice critical military features or increase cost. The DoD must move forward with standards-based solutions as the long term goal. These considerations, coupled with current lack of knowledge with respect to the performance of a large, ubiquitous ATM network mandates that the DoD pursue an aggressive but cautious approach to the introduction of ATM technology. The DISA ATM technology insertion strategy fully embraces this approach.


4.1 Strategy Overview.

DISA has adopted the three track approach depicted in Figure 1 to provide for the aggressive introduction of ATM technology in the DoD while effectively managing the risks described above. Track I, Technology Assessment, focuses on understanding the technology itself, examining how it is being used and deployed in the public and private sectors and orchestrating its development and application in the DoD through proof-of-concept exploration and advanced technology demonstrations. The intent is to focus on key aspects of the technology needed to support the warfighter and to identify high payoff applications that can be transitioned to prototype and pilot services. Track II, Leading Edge Services, focuses on providing operational prototype and pilot services to selected users based on Track I experience and recommendations. Track III, Full Operational Services, provides for the transition of appropriate Leading Edge Services to fully operational, fee-for-service offerings available to the full spectrum of DoD users, with all of the system reliability and availability implied by a standard, or core service offering. The flow of technology insertion is depicted in Figure 2. This flow, from Track I Technology Assessment through Track III Full Operational Capability occurs on a continuing basis. Promising applications identified in Track are migrated as quickly as quickly as possible to full operational capabilities as they are identified. Each of the three Tracks is described in detail in the following paragraphs, along with brief descriptions of ongoing activities and projected milestones for key Leading Edge and Full Operational Services.

4.2 Track I - Technology Assessment.

As described earlier, the objective of Track I is to understand ATM technology activities and applications both the public and private sectors, to facilitate development and integration efforts needed by the DoD that are naturally being addressed by industry and to demonstrate ATM technology in an environment meaningful to the DoD. Technology Assessment includes proof-of-concept exploration and demonstration in DoD laboratories and, in broad collaboration with others, to identify technologies for deployment in Track II that offer high payoff in satisfying warfighter requirements. Figure 3 illustrates the Technology Assessment process and depicts the fact that this track addresses all DoD Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD) activities, whether or not specifically DISA, to insure that these activities are intelligently focused to serves the needs of the Warfighter. DISA and the Services are working together aggressively to implement ATM in both the strategic and tactical portions of the DoD information systems. Examples of ongoing DISA and Service sponsored ATM Technology Assessment and Demonstration activities are described below:

4.2.1 Advanced Technology Demonstration Network (ATDNet):

ATDNet is being implemented as a collaborative effort by DISA, NSA, NRL, ARPA, DIA and NASA It is an ATM/SONET-based Washington area network that will serve as the premier demonstration platform for evaluating ATM-related technology that best satisfies DoD's needs. DISA's primary role in ATDNet is as the information technology assessment focal point and as the long term network manager.

Some first year technology demonstrations will include:

  • Multi-level security (using MILKBUSH prototype agile key encrypter)
  • Demonstration of Vendor Independent Network Control Entity (VINCE), a DoD initiative in ATM network signalling standards that has been made available in the public domain.
  • Bandwidth Management
  • Video Teleconferencing with "white board"
  • Global file system access/usage, 6 Terrabit archive/20 sec access
  • High Performance Computer collaboration

Specific warfighter mission relevant applications to be demonstrated in 1994 include:

  • Tactical applications of telemedicine
  • Intelligence mission planning
  • Logistic support to warfighter
  • Joint Planning exercise

4.2.2 Advanced Technology Concept Demonstrations (ACTD):

ACTDs are demonstrations of advanced technology that are intended to extend over a 1-2 year period and provide a modest level of operational exposure of the technology to users and developers. DISA is actively working with DDR&E to coordinate and focus the supporting infrastructure for ACTDs. The effort includes helping in the technical deployment of the supporting information technology for the demonstrations and designing the deployed infrastructure in the most cost-effective manner. At least four of the ACTDs planned to date will include ATM as part of the infrastructure. The goal is to move this technology and infrastructure to a deployed pilot service in the Track II effort and to consolidate and coordinate overall ACTD initiatives.

4.2.3 Commercial Satellite Communications Initiative (CSCI):

The DISA sponsored CSCI effort, in 1993, was key in demonstrating the application of ATM technology over commercial satellite to support seamless warfighter access to broadband information in a deployed environment. CSCI initiatives for 1994 will continue to explore creative ways of using the commercial SATCOM sector to support advanced technologies such as ATM in warfighter applications and will support key activities in providing pilot service capabilities in Track II.

4.2.4 C4IFTW Demonstrations:

Several demonstrations are being planned that will exploit ATM technology in a warfighter environment. They include:
  • Agile Provider 94 (AP94):
    AP94 will demonstrate ATM technology supporting the prototype Global Command and Control System (GCCS) in a JTF environment. This is a CINCUSACOM initiative and is expected to stimulate an early push to deploy this type of technology as a Track II leading edge service to the CINCs.
  • Joint Warfighter Interoperability Demonstration - 94 (JWID-94):
    JWID-94 will be conducted in Aug-Sep 94 as a specific C4IFTW exercise. It builds on identified user requirements that can effectively use ATM technology. ATM demonstrations planned for JWID-94 include ATM support of the tactical/strategic planning function in conjunction with the Air Force Survivable Secure Communications Network (SSCN), described below, and an ATM technology-based deployable DISN point-of-presence in support of the warfighter. Candidate applications include intelligence and medical support via SATCOM.

4.2.5 Survivable Secure Communications Network (SSCN):

SSCN is an Air Force sponsored program for developing and assessing ATM technology in a tactical environment. It has been ongoing for the past year and is now entering a demonstration phase. Using SSCN as an enabling vehicle, the Joint Directors of Laboratories (JDL) consortium is deploying an advanced technology distributed testbed which includes DISA.

4.2.6 Other Service Activities:

The services have completed and continue to plan for a number of ATM technology demonstration and pilot projects. The Navy and Air Force have successfully demonstrated low speed ATM to fixed and rotary wing aircraft. The Navy is operating an ATM network at the Naval Research Laboratory that services as a testbed while supporting mission traffic. The Air Force, with DISA participation, demonstrated ATM high bandwidth transmission capabilities between Hill and Tinker Air Force bases in March 94. The intent is to show simultaneous live video and multimedia presentations through a user workstation along with the transfer of large data files between DISA megacenters. The Army, as part of its base modernization effort, is installing ATM local area networks on Posts and is currently planning a demonstration of high bandwidth local area network connectivity.

4.2.7 Other DISA Supporting Activities:

DISA continues to assert leadership in a broad range of areas where DISA is in the best position to articulate and represent the needs of DoD customers for ATM technology products.
  • As part of the High Performance and Computing and Communications (HPCC) consortium, DISA has helped to demonstrate early modes of interoperability between multiple vendor ATM products.
  • DISA monitors and is making plans to become an active member of the National Information Infrastructure Testbed (NIIT). The NIIT is attempting to demonstrate the capabilities of industry to solve real world problems and develop the NII. A recent Earth Sciences Demonstration integrated Sprint ATM services and AT&T Frame Relay services with software to solve an imagery problem that bears a striking resemblance to the types of imagery problems the DoD needs to solve.
  • DISA represents DoD in the standards bodies that are developing the mechanisms for multiple vendor ATM interoperability in the future. This effort includes: (1) participation in commercial standard organizations such as the ATM Forum and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), (2) development of ATM features and protocols in support of DoD unique or essential requirements and (3) influencing the commercial ATM standard development process to incorporate the features and protocols developed for DoD.
  • DISA has several laboratory initiatives that are exploring various aspects of the technology insertion problem and introducing this technology into the DII in an orderly manner. They include: (1) The Network Engineering and Assessment Facility (NEAF) for evaluation and demonstration of the near term and advanced technologies, such as ATM, SONET, personal communications, wireless and network management software, (2) A Conformance Testing and Certification Facility that will provide conformance testing and certification of ATM equipment and services and (3) the proposed DII Software Engineering Environment Laboratory that will, as a first focus, spearhead the transition of GCCS software applications into a high performance information system such as that offered by ATM technology.

4.3 Track II ... Leading Edge Services.

The objective of Track II is to provide early leading edge, or state-of-the-art, telecommunications services to users who can benefit from the advanced technology and can accept a greater level of operational risk and cost. As shown in Figure 4 these services will be provided as operational prototypes and pilot services. DISA is actively participating in two significant initiatives intended to aggressively transition the promising technologies identified in Track I to Track II operational pilot and prototype services. The first of these, the recently established DISA/Advanced Research Projects Agency Joint Program Office (DISA/ARPA JPO) (ARPA) will develop and deploy ATM as a component of the DISN Leading Edge Pilot Service offerings with close and active participation by the customer base. Current planning calls for the implementation of a shared ATM high speed wide area network supporting users in CONUS and Hawaii in early CY1995. This is a key date, for it will effectively mark "IOC" for the first widespread availability of ATM in DoD. The initial focus is on support for the High Performance Computer and Defense Modelling and Simulation community users. The second major initiative focused on the operational transition of Track I technology is the joint DISA/Military Service DII prototype effort. The DII prototype activities will capitalize on the Service and Defense Agency base level modernization and technology insertion initiatives, the DISA/ARPA JPO DISN Leading Edge initiatives and the DISA CSCI initiatives to provide seamless, fully integrated leading services from the user's local area network to the deployed theater. Initial sites selected by the Services as target locations for initial DII prototype services include the Army, Ft. Bragg, NC; the Navy, Oceana NAS, Va; the Air Force, Barksdale AFB, La and the Marine Corps, Camp Pendleton, Ca.

4.4 Track III - Full Operational Services.

This track is focused on transitioning the leading edge services provided in Track II to full operational capability supporting the full range of DoD users with highly reliable, ubiquitous affordable services. Full operational wide area and deployable services will be acquired via the evolving DISN acquisition core service offerings. These are defined as services generally available to industry and the public from the commercial marketplace. Core services include voice, data, video, imagery, messaging, directory services, and any other offerings that are, or become commercially available. As depicted in Figure 5 transition of these services to DISN core services will be based on a business case that will include a proposal for new rate structures and a market analysis, with customer input to find out if there is widespread demand. If there is sufficient demand to justify the business case, the new features and services will be added to the DISN Core Service offerings and implemented by the commercial DISN Core Service Providers. If a business case cannot be justified, DISA will work with the customers on a case by case basis to fulfill the customer requirement. Base level services implemented under Track II initiatives will, as appropriate, continue to be operated, maintained and expanded by the military services. The IOC for widespread DoD ATM availability in Track II would transition to an "FOC" in Track III. Depending on the DISN evolution, this could happen as early as FY97.


5.1 This paper has described the critical role of ATM technology in the DoD and the aggressive but cautious approach that the Department is taking to capitalize on the benefits of this new technology. DISA, DDR&E, the CINCs, the Military Services and Defense Agencies are working together to provide for the near term deployment of ATM capabilities as well as the implementation of the most cost-effective solutions in the long term. Today ATM stands alone with its promise of solving the vexing problems of seamless sensor-to-shooter information support to the warfighter. DISA, and the Dod are meeting the challenge.

ATM Technology Initiatives In The DoD / DISA-JIEO-CFSE /