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.


 
 

 
Army photograph by David Vergun

Senior leaders explain Army’s drawdown plan

Army photograph by David Vergun No commander is happy when notified that a soldier from his or her command has been identified for early separation. But commanders personally notify those Soldiers and ensure participation in th...
 
 
Lockheed Martin photograph by Beth Groom

F-35 Rollout Marks U.S.-Australia Partnership Milestone

Lockheed Martin photograph by Beth Groom Royal Australian Air Force Air Marshal Geoff Brown delivers his remarks at the roll out ceremony for Australia’s first F-35. The official rollout of the first two F-35 Lightning II...
 
 
Air Force photograph by A1C Erin OĆ­Shea

U.S. Forces display military might at Farnborough

Air Force photograph by A1C Erin O’Shea Capt. Tom Meyers discusses the F-15E Strike Eagle’s capabilities with spectators July 17, 2014, at the Farnborough International Airshow in England. Public access was granted ...
 

 
raptors4

Raptors, Falcons fuel up in desert skies

Three U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors assigned to the 325th Fighter Wing, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., fly alongside a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 93rd Air Refueling Squadron, Fairchild AFB, Wash., during Red Flag 14-3, Ju...
 
 
Air Force photograph by A1C Thomas Spangler

Sun sets on Red Flag 14-3

Air Force photograph by A1C Thomas Spangler The sun sets behind a row of F-16 Fighting Falcons during Red Flag 14-3, July 16, 2014, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Red Flag provides a series of intense air-to-air combat scenario...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SSgt. Siuta B. Ika

AOC integral to Red Flag 14-3 operations

Air Force photograph by SSgt. Siuta B. Ika Members of the Air and Space Operations Center work during Red Flag 14-3 operations July 22, 2014, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Armed with personnel from intelligence and communicati...
 




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>