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Network Enterprise Command evolved from Strategic Communications Command.

On 1 March 1964, the Army activated U.S. Army Strategic Communications Command in Washington, D.C., to exercise full command and control over worldwide strategic communications.

The organizational structure of STRATCOM quickly expanded with the establishment of STRATCOM-Europe in July 1964, STRATCOM-Pacific in September 1964, and STRATCOM-Pacific subordinate agencies in Hawaii, Vietnam, Okinawa, Taiwan, and Thailand in November 1964.

As the United States became embroiled in the war in Vietnam and the conflict in Southeast Asia committed more and more American forces and services, the mission of STRATCOM in Vietnam grew proportionately; however, signal groups and battalions were fielded to the various Corps tactical zones without the benefit of centralized command and control. To fill that command and control void, STRATCOM established the 1st Signal Brigade.

Formed in 1966 in Vietnam, the 1st Signal Brigade assumed command and control over all Army communications-electronics resources in Southeast Asia. Scattered among 200 sites in Vietnam and Thailand, the brigade became the largest combat signal unit ever formed.



By 1968, STRATCOM numbered some 49,000 personnel stationed in 30 different countries. On a strategic level, several separate communications systems, or networks, functioned effectively, providing rapid, dependable, secure communications to military and civilian users around the world. These networks, part of the Defense Communications System, reflected STRATCOM's considerable impact on communications and electronic data collection in a matter of four short years.

AUTOVON and AUTODIN had modernized voice and digital military communication capabilities and STRATCOM engineers had started construction on a network for classified voice communications called the Automatic Secure Voice Communications System for some 1,850 subscribers. The command had also introduced improvements to an Integrated Wideband Communications System in Southeast Asia and had begun the establishment of the Defense Communications Satellite System.

The War in Vietnam continued into the early 1970s and, as STRATCOM personnel and equipment became more and more supportive of tactical operations and the war in Vietnam blurred the distinction between strategic and tactical communications, STRATCOM leaders moved to modify the command's designation to better suit its changing mission by dropping "strategic" from its organizational title. On 1 October 1973, the Army renamed STRATCOM as the U.S. Army Communications Command.

In the wake of the War in Vietnam, the U.S. Army, particularly USACC, shifted its focus away from tactical communications development and began to look closely at the possible relevance of emerging computer applications to the business of strategic military communications, particularly data collection and data transmission in a global environment. While the Army had been working with big computer technology since the early 1950s, the introduction and rapid proliferation of automatic data processing equipment mounted on personal workstations enabled the department at every level to collect and transmit data much more quickly and in much greater quantity than ever before.

Throughout the Army of the early 1980s, automation focused primarily on the development of myriad ADPE hardware and software suites relative to many and varied ADPE programs and processes such as: force development, personnel, supply, payroll, medical, maintenance, and troop support. All projects were of multi-million dollar and multi-year consequence, and all seemed very much communications dependent. The enormity of such capability on a service-wide scale moved the Army to look to USACC to develop a strategic concept of information systems management and a consequent consolidation of five information disciplines: communications, automation, records management, printing and publishing, and visual information. That concept and consolidation saw USACC evolve into the U.S. Army Information Systems Command on 1 May 1984.

Meanwhile, as the Army moved into the mid to late 1980s, ADPE Word Processors began to give way to desktop personal computers and the emergence of the worldwide web and email systems. As the age of information management dawned, the first tactical application of email as an Army communications enabler came in 1984 during Operation Uphold Democracy on the island of Haiti. A short time later, Operation Desert Storm in Southwest Asia featured the first combat application of whole new families of tactical and strategic communication systems including Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System, Mobile Subscriber Equipment, the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System, the Enhanced Position Location Reporting Sys tem, and Tactical Satellite Systems. Organizationally, ISC orchestrated the communications battle piece from its remote desert location in Arizona. At the local level, ISC established the 6th Signal Command to manage the regional complexities of moving large numbers of signal Soldiers and large amounts of signal equipment into, out of, and around the theater, just as STRATCOM had established the 1st Signal Brigade for much the same purpose in Vietnam.


Army downsizing and organizational review in the post Desert Storm era focused a critical eye on ISC organizational structure and functionality. A general perception in the 1990s among Major Commands and theater Commanders-in-Chief held that Information Systems Command's central management of the five IMA disciplines deprived them of needed command and control over regional and theater information systems, computer system acquisitions, and signal assets. The Department of the Army agreed and moved to dismantle ISC, relegating the organization to major subordinate command status under U.S. Army Forces Command, and redesignating it as Army Signal Command in September 1996. Upon transition, ASC divested all of its IM responsibilities, returned DOIMs to garrison control, dissolved its IM field offices worldwide, and downsized to less than 12,000 personnel. For the following six years, the command focused its energies on the management of its subordinate Signal Commands and Signal Brigades around the globe, and rededicated itself to the provision of global, strategic signal services for Army combat units.


Meanwhile, Army MACOMs and theater CINCs worked independently to resource their own Information System requirements. This decentralization and deregulation led to a proliferation of non-standardized command, control, communications, and computer systems and an unacceptable level of incompatibility among Army-wide IS equipment and support networks. That, coupled with the growing complexity of and security threats to the Army's portion of the worldwide web, compelled DA on 1 October 2002 to again centralize global C4 and many aspects of information systems management and security under one Army command: today's U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command.

Headquarters, Department of the Army General Order #5, dated 13 August 2002 (as amended by HQDA GO-31, dated 16 October 2006), established the U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command/9th Signal Command (Army)) as the "single authority to operate, manage, and defend the Army's enterprise level infostructure." As such, NETCOM was ordered to deliver seamless, enterprise level, command, control, communications, computers, and information management common user services and signal war fighting forces in support of Army Service Component Commanders and Combatant Commanders. By virtue of GO-5, NETCOM/9th SC (A) forces engineered, operated, sustained, and defended the Army's portion of the Defense Department's Global Information Grid, otherwise known as the LandWarNet, enabling force projection and the delivery of decisive combat power via the advantages of superior network technologies. To accomplish their mission, NETCOM/9th SC (A) leaders exerted their mission authority to (1) transform and sustain strategic and theater/tactical communications forces; (2) engineer, install, operate, manage, and defend C4IM systems and networks; (3) operate & manage the Army's infostructure at the enterprise level via the development of the Army's LandWarNet; and (4) provide global C4 network operations at the enterprise level as dictated by the complexities of Army transformation and modularity during wartime.

NETCOM/9th SC (A) rapidly evolved into a direct reporting unit to become a global C4 enterprise reporting directly to the Chief Information Officer on the Army Staff. At the beginning of the new century, Army Signal Command had managed disparate signal assets around the world founded on a range of C4 technologies and driven by theater preferences rather than system commonality. The command's transformation to NETCOM/9th SC (A), however, began a shift toward whole army technological synchronization, increased economic stability, and C4 superiority.

Even as NETCOM/9th SC (A)'s star began to rise, the events of 9/11 plunged the command, and indeed the entire Army, into a Global War on Terrorism. In 2002, a mighty coalition of allied armies, supported by a signal task force, advanced into Uzbekistan and Afghanistan to inflict a crippling blow on the Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorists. On a strategic level, signal Soldiers of the 11th Signal Brigade provided C4 services for Combined Joint Task Force-180 and Coalition Forces Land Component Command and established Technical Control Facilities and Ku-band Earth Terminals for long-term area operations; simultaneously, deployed signal teams established strategic network communication satellite packages in Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Qatar, Kuwait, and Jordan in support of a multi-staged Global War on Terrorism orchestrated by U.S. Central Command. On a tactical level, they afforded battlefield support to the 10th Mountain Division as kill teams conducted search and destroy missions against terrorists in Operation Anaconda.

Later, as the GWOT escalated and invasion forces assembled for the push into Iraq, NETCOM/9th SC (A) Signal forces established communication services for staging areas in Kuwait and Qatar as well as the strategic backbone to support the war with the emplacement of Triband-143s (providing major HQ elements with C-, Ku, and X-band capabilities), light and heavy troposcatter systems, multi-channel tactical satellite systems, and a host of voice and data switching systems. With the advent of GWOT, NETCOM/9th SC (A) enabled the Army to graduate from a communications platform dominated by telephone and radio systems to a computer/satellite-based platform, replete with classified and unclassified email, messenger and voice, and video telecommunications.


Next, as the Coalition moved against Iraq, NETCOM/9th SC (A) sent signal forces into battle, equipped with light and heavy data packages, various TACSAT systems (including Tri-bands), and several troposcatter systems to establish strategic communication services at logistic support areas along the entire invasion route and for CENTCOM, CJTF, and CFLCC early entry command posts. Signal satellite terminals expanded V Corps longrange extension capabilities while voice and data packages afforded Corps commanders a broad spectrum of highly mobile satellite-telephone, Internet-email, and video-teleconference services.

As the dust of the Operation Iraqi Freedom opening campaign began to settle, invasion operations gave way to stabilization and commercialization operations. NETCOM/9th SC (A) Soldiers and civilian engineers supervised the painstaking and often perilous strategic commercialization of communications services to help the peoples of Afghanistan, Iraq, and other regional states in their recovery from the destruction and destabilization of war.

Additionally, NETCOM/9th SC (A) established a Theater Signal Brigade to assume SWA network management control and command and control of rotational units engaged in the 'operate and maintain' C4 mission for the fixed-site, strategic commercialization communications infrastructure throughout the SWA Theater of Operations.

As was the case in Vietnam and Desert Shield/Desert Storm, NETCOM/9th SC (A) instituted a theater signal brigade to manage the regional complexities of moving large numbers of signal Soldiers and large amounts of signal equipment into, out of, and around the theater.

Beyond the physical battlefields of SWA, NETCOM/9th SC (A) also remained engaged in a great Cyber war, a strategic battle for control over the digital networks, the Internet, and the worldwide web. For most of the 21st Century's first decade, the vast majority of Army communications took place on some form of government e-mail, and much of it was sensitive or classified. It therefore fell to NETCOM/9th SC (A) to ensure the security and integrity of all Army network elements. To accomplish that goal, NETCOM/9th SC (A) employed a worldwide network of operations and security centers, strategically positioned around the globe, domestically in Arizona, Georgia, and Washington, D.C., and abroad in Germany, Korea, Kuwait, and Hawaii. These NOSCs formed the regional communication hubs of the Army's Global, Internet-based digital network--the LandWarNet.

The LWN established, NETCOM/9th SC (A)--now shortened to 9th SC (A)--next set to work on making the global enterprise operational beginning in early 2008. "In our quest to establish what will become a Global Network Enterprise Construct," wrote MG Susan S. Lawrence, commanding general of 9th SC (A), " we will create and integrate a complex of five fixed regional hub nodes, six theater NetOps & Security Centers, 10 or more Area Processing Centers, and six Network Service Centers." Conceptually, FRHNs facilitated world-wide, network satellite communications; provided independent Information Assurance and Tier 2 router configuration capabilities; and afforded joint support to U.S. Marine Corps, Army National Guard, and Stryker Brigade on-the-move Mobile Battle Command. TNOSCs afforded global information assurance and security; APCs provides Net-centric operations while reducing and hardening network entry points; and NSCs made the network operational, enabling war fighting units network access to a full spectrum of network services (including portals, instant messaging, chat, whiteboards, audio, and video) during movement between theaters.

At the point of the spear, Expeditionary Signal Battalions afforded network planners flexibility in configuring resources to precisely meet user requirements.

In keeping with modularity principles, ESBs and ESB companies, platoons, and teams were tailored and task organized to ensure that only the precise package of capabilities needed to satisfy a given mission were deployed.

By Vince Breslin

9th Signal Command Historian
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Author:Breslin, Vince
Publication:Army Communicator
Date:Jun 22, 2010
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