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349th Communications shows they have "JUICE"

  • Published
  • By Capt. Pauline M. Nguyen
  • 349th Communications Squadron
From Jul. 13 through Aug. 10, the 349th Communications Squadron, Travis AFB Calif., in conjunction with Joint Mobile Network Operations, has been involved in a monumental exercise to test interoperability of communications systems between the different military services. The Joint Users Interoperability Communications Exercise is an annual exercise, administered by Joint Task Force that attempts to conquer the goal of eliminating errors and inefficiencies that arise when operating different pieces of communications equipment in a joint environment. Prior to Sept. 11, 2001, communications systems were purchased and tested based on individual service needs. However, world events have led to a greater need for interoperability of equipment for all warfighters.

For four weeks, members of the 349th CS diligently worked long hours to set up direct communication with a number of sites across the United States. Using three simultaneous satellite links, classified and unclassified information was passed from the Air Force's site at Travis to two Standardized Tactical Entry Point sites, the Army's site at Ft. Monmouth, NJ, and the Northwest STEP site in Virginia. There was also one subordinate link to the Air National Guard's 282nd Combat Communications Squadron in Rhode Island. This effort required a tremendous amount of coordination with the distant end and a strong knowledge of networking principles. Twenty-four hour monitoring of the circuits was required to ensure problems were resolved on a timely basis and links to other sites were up and running.

On top of it all, during the exercise, the 349th was also tasked with overseeing the certification test for a new Avaya telephone switch and accreditation of the complete Theater Deployable Communications Integrated Communications Access Package. The certification and accreditation was performed by Joint Interoperability Test Command. Upon successful completion of the certification, the new telephone switch will be disseminated to communications agencies around the world and will become the new standard for the Air Force. The accreditation of TDC ICAP certifies the current inventory of equipment, allowing continued use of the systems throughout the Air Force.

While every day presented a new unforeseen challenge for the 349th, all personnel understood that this exercise will undoubtedly resolve many interoperability issues that could have had an adverse impact in the field. With their hard work and determination, the 349th CS demonstrated that interoperability between all levels of the government, which at one time seemed impossible, is within reach.