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Air Force begins new era in technical integration.

AIR FORCE BEGINS NEW ERA IN TECHNICAL INTEGRATION

Air Force Communications Command began a new era in its history on Oct. 1, 1990--an era that will see a restructured AFCC continue to play a vital role in enhancing Air Force combat capability.

As hush-hush as military strategists have been about Desert Shield, it's still safe to say that what's going on in the U.S. Air Force heavily impacts not only scenarios like that but any future potential fighting situation, over whatever geography.

"The communications, computer and air traffic control service we provide to the Air Force is being recognized as an important and critical part of the Air Force's combat capability," says Maj. Gen. H. Ludwig, AFCC commander.

"The Air Force has elected to recognize these important functions by bringing them more into the mainline of the Air Force's operations."

Air Force headquarters announced in June that communications and computer functions throughout the Air Force would be restructured starting Oct. 1.

Tackling Tough Issues

As a result, AFCC will be restructured and will focus on the tough issues involved in providing standards, architectures, integration and operations policy and procedures for communications, computer systems, and air traffic control systems throughout the Air Force.

"We look forward to taking on the challenges in the critical areas of standardization, integration and inter-operability," Ludwig says.

"How well we do our jobs in meeting those challenges will go a long way in determining the combat capability of the Air Force in the '90s and into the 21st century."

AFCC will also continue to be the Air Force manager for engineering, installation, removal, and relocation of communications, computer and air traffic control systems.

And it will continue to acquire commercial off-the-shelf systems for the Air Force and provide life-cycle management of standard base-level communications and computer systems.

The new AFCC will have three intermediate level subordinate organizations.

New Structure

The three intermediate level subordinate organizations are as follows:

* The Computer Systems Division, with headquarters at Gunter Air Force Base in Alabama.

This division provides centralized technical management and guidance for developing, procuring and implementing communications and computer systems and provides life-cycle support for those systems.

The division serves Air Force functional commanders through centrally supported management information systems and builds an informational bridge across standard functional data systems to provide decision support and command and control systems to meet the needs of commanders and their staffs.

The division accomplishes its mission through four subordinate organizations: the Standard Systems Center at Gunter Air Force Base; the Air Force Computer Acquisition Center at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts; the Command and Control Systems Center at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma; and the Computer Services Center in San Antonio, Texas.

* The Engineering Installation Division at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma engineers and installs Air Force communications, computer and air traffic control systems and facilities.

The division's people travel to bases around the world installing new cable and equipment, refitting existing systems, and performing onsite overhaul.

Ten worldwide active and 19 Air National Guard units provide the manpower.

The division provides a full range of planning, program management, engineering, logistics, installation and mobile depot maintenance for the Air Force, Department of Defense and other federal agencies, and U.S. allies.

EID managed $3 billion in acquisition contracts which provide customers with digital telephone systems, secure command and control switching systems, and computer networks.

* And the newly created Technology Integration Center at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.

This highly technical, low overhead organization provides responsive, results-oriented support to Air Force communications-computer systems integration needs.

It consolidates standards, systems, engineering, integration, test and evaluation, and systems management expertise into a single technical support team for the Air Force to employ.

New Directive

In the Program Action Directive, the following units were listed as reporting directly to AFCC:

* The Air Force Frequency Management Center, Washington D.C.

* The Air Force Communications-Computer Systems Doctrine Office, Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi.

* The Air Force Telecommunications Certification Office, Scott AFB.

* The 1872nd Training Development Squadron, Keesler AFB.

* The 2000th Management Engineering Squadron, Scott AFB.

It has since been determined that the mission and resources of the AFCSDO will be realigned to the Technology Integration Center and the 1872nd TDSQ will report directly to the TIC.

As restructured, the new AFCC will remain a major air command of the Air Force and will have approximately 8300 people assigned including slightly more than 400 in the headquarters.

AFCC will transfer its operations and maintenance responsibilities to the major air commands supported by communications units.

Those units that previously reported to AFCC and the major commands they support will only report to the major commands as a result of the restructure.

This includes communications divisions, groups, and squadrons, as well as combat communications units.

Decentralization

"With the decentralization of AFCC, there will be a continuing need for a unifying influence to ensure a common, interoperable communications and computer infrastructure to support Air Force operations worldwide," says Spain W. Hall Jr., executive director for the TIC.

"The Technology Integration Center will define, design and evaluate the effectiveness of this infrastructure to support the Air Force mission."

The TIC will provide:

* Policy and guidance for Air Force systems engineering, integration, and testing for base-level communications and computer systems.

* Air Force communications and computer systems architectures, standards, regulation and publications, and specifications for Air Force-wide use.

* Systems engineering of broad end-to-end technical solutions, with an emphasis on integration and inter-operability throughout the system's life cycle.

* Technical assessments of major Air Force communications and computer systems affecting base-level systems.

* Evaluation and prototyping of new commercial off-the-shelf technology, equipment, and systems for application to Air Force requirements.

* Operational test and evaluation for new, modified, and existing air traffic control and landing systems, communications, and computer systems.

* And Comprehensive evaluation of air traffic control and landing facilities worldwide, to determine optimum configuration.

Timely Info Key

"Mission performance is increasingly dependent upon accurate and timely information flow across functional and organizational boundaries," Hall says.

"The TIC will address these integration challenges by providing responsive technical support and guidance to all levels of the Air Force.

"The creation of the TIC will provide a comprehensive source for life-cycle management policy, systems engineering, integration and test support for Air Force communications-computer systems.

"A major thrust of the Center is to have a bird's eye view of requirements across the entire Air Force so that we can see what the common needs are, what emerging trends are there, and then couple this with our own technology assessment effort to make sure we recognize new technology as it occurs and understand where it can be best applied to emerging Air Force requirements," he says.

"For example, we've got a major effort under way right now with the Air Staff to develop a specific architecture for tactical battle management systems for the tactical air forces."

New Templates

Hall continues:

"We're also working to develop the initial template for the Military Airlift Command which will provide this broad general guidance for how they can apply communications and computer technology to their specific operational needs.

"The ultimate objective is to have a template for every major command, for every functional need within the Air Force.

"What the TIC proposes to do through our emphasis on standards and templates is to define that the base communications and computer support ought to look like as a whole system.

"It's a fully integrated capability that will support what the wing commander needs, and it will provide everything from telephones to satellite shots, to data processing.

"But each of those components will be a piece of a whole system, not individual processor or components.

"And to do that you have to have a complete suite of standards, designs and protocols that tell you when to use certain components to do certain jobs, how to size them, how you hook them together, at what level of workload you have to grow into the next step, and to provide this guidance in a form that the major commands and base-level folks can deal with.

"We're going to shift our focus from one of project orientation to a more strategic view of communications and computers at base level as part of a complete capability, a full range of services, as opposed to individual capabilities."

History

The Army Air Corps established the Army Airways Communications System in 1938 to provide air-to-ground and ground-to-air communications between aeronautical stations in the continental United States to promote safety and simplify flying operations.

AACS's secondary mission continued to grow through World War II and, in 1946, it was redesignated Airways and Air Communications Service.

The 1960s brought challenge and revolution to Air Force communications.

Airways and Air Communications Service became the Air Force's 16th major command on July 1, 1961, and was simultaneously redesignated Air Force Communications Service.

The Air Force Communications Service was redesignated Air Force Communications Command on Nov. 15, 1979, the 41st anniversary of the establishment of the Army Airways Communications System.

Today's world is driven by communications and computer.

Air Force Communications Command's challenge is to seek new, better ways to use today's technology.

Through vision and by understanding the needs of the people and organizations it serves, Air Force Communications Command tries to turn today's technology into tomorrow's answers.

"Excellence in Action" is the command's benchmark.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Communications News
Date:Jan 1, 1991
Words:1562
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