Defense

August 12, 2013

New devices keep Army communications safe

A soldier tries out a Simple Key Loader, or SKL, fielded by Project Director Communications Security, known as PD COMSEC, at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. PD COMSEC is in the process of replacing the SKL with a Next Generation Load Device, which will be nearly half the size and have more capabilities and features.

 

Project Director, Communications Security is moving closer to fielding a new handheld device which will be used to deliver electronic keys to secure the Army’s phone, radio, computer and satellite networks.

The Next Generation Load Device-Small, or NGLD-Small, comes with a new digital display on the front and is smaller than previous devices used for encryption, but still gives the same security protection as larger devices. It replaces older models that were no longer able to handle the Army’s encryption key delivery requirements.

“The NGLD are a family of devices, with a small, medium and large version,” said Aaron Clayton, the Tier 3 Fill Devices project leader at Project Director, Communications Security, or PD COMSEC, which is assigned to the Army Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications-Tactical, or PEO C3T. “Those don’t relate to their physical size but their capabilities. The NGLD-Small in particular is targeted to replace a legacy device that Soldiers currently use. The legacy device doesn’t have the security features that we would like to see today like the NGLD-Small can provide.”

The NGLD devices are used to receive, store, manage and export electronic keys that are used for cryptography. The keys are loaded into communications devices such as radios and satellite terminals to secure networks.

When building or procuring a new device such as an NGLD-Small, PD COMSEC must account for many factors because of the secure information involved.

“These devices are certified by the National Security Agency (NSA) to be able to handle and store electronic keys classified up to the Top Secret level,” Clayton said. “We work very closely with the NSA to make sure what we’re doing is in sync with their security requirements.”

PD COMSEC also has to ensure the devices can stand up to the wear and tear put on them by Soldiers during a deployment. To ensure that the devices can meet the vigorous environmental requirements, the PD COMSEC team took several samples of potential NGLD-Small devices to the Network Integration Evaluation, or NIE, at Fort Bliss, Texas, and White Sands Missile Range, N.M., where troops conduct realistic mission threads in order to evaluate communications equipment in an operational environment.

“We took approximately 10 of each device with us and they all came back with the paint worn off and all scratched up, but they still worked,” Clayton said.

At first, soldiers appeared reluctant to use the new device over the larger, yet more familiar, Simple Key Loader, or SKL, they had used previously. Those devices were able to provide the security required, but were larger, and at times more cumbersome than the NGLD-Small.

“We had trainers come in with the different devices and teach the Soldiers how to use them,” said Stan Scofield, PD COMSEC special projects officer for the PEO C3T Technical Management Division. “It didn’t take very long to get them up and running on the new devices. Once they learned how to use them and got to see some of the upgrades, they didn’t want to give them back.”

While the soldiers were happy with the new devices, there is still potential for improvement that PD COMSEC will recommend to manufacturers. These improvements will ensure that soldiers have every advantage possible while securing military networks in hostile environments.

“We got a lot of feedback and found some shortcomings in the new devices,” Clayton said. “We’re making suggestions for enhancements to the device so they will meet Army requirements. We want to make sure they can completely load, interface and configure the new Army software defined radios.”

Clayton said he believed the new devices should be field ready by the end of the year.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Air Force photograph by Rick Goodfriend

16T Pitch Boom reactivated to support wind tunnel tests

Air Force photograph by Rick Goodfriend The Pitch Boom at the AEDC 16-foot transonic wind tunnel (16T) was recently reactivated. This model support system is used in conjunction with a roll mechanism to provide a combined pitch...
 
 
army-detector

Scientists turn handheld JCAD into a dual-use chemical, explosives detector

Scientists at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., proved it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks by adding the ability to detect explosive materials to the Joint Chemical Age...
 
 

SMC stands up new Advanced Systems, Development Directorate

While space officially begins at 62 miles above the Earth’s surface, for the men and women of the Air Force space begins near sea level at the Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base,Calif. SMC is where innovative ideas are matured into space systems that deliver operational capabilities to U.S. warfighters in...
 

 
Air Force photograph by Samuel King Jr.

Navy’s first F-35C squadron surpasses 1,000 flight hours

Air Force photograph by Samuel King Jr. An F-35C Lightning II aircraft piloted by Lt. Cmdr. Chris Tabert, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101, flies the squadron’s first local sortie. The F-35C is the carrier va...
 
 

Salina, Kansas, recalls anniversary of shuttered base

It has been 50 years this month since the announcement that Schilling Air Force Base was closing rattled Salina residents. The Salina Journal, which carried news of the closure in its Nov. 19, 1964, editions, reported that the economic disaster then spared no part of the community – real estate, retail, civic involvement, church attendance,...
 
 
Navy photograph by Seaman Sabrina Fine

SEWIP block upgrade program evaluated for LCS

Navy photograph by Seaman Sabrina Fine Cryptologic Technician (Technical) Seaman Helen Hernandez monitors an SLQ-32 radar aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). Dwight D. Eisenhower is deplo...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>