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April 19, 2013

ISEC quick-react support resolves communication problems at SATCOM facility

Brad O’Berry, Information Systems Engineering Command engineer, performs a systems check of a MIDAS processor card in the ISEC Satellite Commnications Prototype Facility. This facility allows ISEC engineers to validate troubleshooting and test procedures such as those performed during the quick-react Camp Roberts mission.

In a span of just four days, U.S. Army Information System Engineering Command engineers provided quick reaction support and resolution of communication issues this winter that occurred at the Camp Roberts Enterprise Satellite Communications facility in California.

The Camp Roberts Enterprise SATCOM facility is the main U.S. Army communications facility on the west coast. It provides worldwide joint voice, data, command and control, and imagery communications services between the National Command Authority and deployed military units across the continental United States and the Pacific Rim. This facility supports a variety of users in their communication needs to include the Missile Defense Agency, the Joint Services, intelligence organizations, and diplomatic communities. The Camp Roberts Enterprise SATCOM facility is operated and maintained by the 21st Signal Brigade’s 302nd Signal Battalion.

The Defense Information Systems Agency, the 21st Signal Brigade, and Program Manager Defense Communications and Army Transmission Systems requested ISEC’s onsite support at Camp Roberts to find and fix the cause of the problems, explained Robert Lorentsen, ISEC Transmission Systems Director. Within 24 hours, ISEC deployed engineers Brad O ‘Berry and Ian Keen onsite to begin the trouble shooting effort.

The outages were caused by circuit failures in the Multiplexer Integrated Defense Communications Satellite Subsystem Automation System, or MIDAS. Intermittent data errors on all the circuits passing through it were creating an unacceptable level of degraded performance and reduced availability, explained O ‘Berry.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Ian Wilkinson, site chief at the Camp Roberts Enterprise SATCOM facility, spoke highly of ISEC’s efforts to resolve the issues.

“… [ISEC] provided outstanding service and support to the SATCOM facility located at Camp Roberts. [ISEC] led the successful repair of a failing MIDAS by replacing faulty equipment and implementing several viable solutions which ultimately restored optimal communications provided to numerous supported users and organizations.”

The technical problems identified and fixed included parts affecting interoperability, corrupted program software, and a failed power supply. According to Lorentsen, MIDAS mission capability was fully restored and back to normal operations by Jan. 21, making the total response time four days from start to finish.

Short-Notice/Quick React Technical Assist missions are not uncommon for members of the ISEC team.

Lorentsen said, “We are the ‘9-1-1’ of communication transport systems problems for many of our customers. Our engineers and technicians are always ready for these ‘must fix now’ missions, whether it is to Camp Roberts, CA or Kandahar, Afghanistan.”

Though these missions can be far from home and executed in a high stress environment of time and difficulty, job satisfaction and morale is high.

Upon O ‘Berry’s, return from this mission he said, “This was an interesting challenge because, as it turned out, there were multiple problems with the system which demanded a very systematic troubleshooting approach. In the end, finding and fixing each problem was very rewarding. I enjoyed the opportunity to help out.”

ISEC is headquartered at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., and provides systems engineering, installation, integration, implementation, and evaluation support for communications and information technology systems worldwide providing capabilities to Army organizations, Combatant Commanders, Department of Defense agencies, and Federal agencies.

 




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