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Joint Network Node

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Within the Land Warrior Network (LandWarNet) of the U.S. Army are both applications and connectivity facilities, both internal to field forces and connecting to higher command; the Joint Network Node (JNN) encompasses both architectural concepts and physical equipment for tying into LandWarNet. Part of the connectivity model involves the Joint Network Transport Capabilities - Spiral (JNTC-S) program of communications capabilities under constant "spiral develoment" improvement. The JNN is the part of JNTC-S that deals with tactical communications, as opposed to the intelligence communications of the TROJAN SPIRIT systems or the CSS-S for logistics.[1] It has been called a migratory step, migration toward the fully mobile Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) architecture, but it actually forms the first increment of the four-increment WIN-T.

From a technology standpoint, deploying JNN means the Army clearly transitioned from a hybrid circuit-switched/routed "to Internet protocol-based systems, and provided an interface to DOD communications services, such as the Defense Information Systems Network, with multiple levels of security." In many respects, JNN is the first phase of WIN-T. [2]

JNN principles guided the deployment of a transportable set of shelters, vehicle-mounted equipment, and transit cases, to manage resources in a field network compatible with the structure consistent with the restructuring of the United States Army.It contains major subsystems:[3]

JNN satellite terminal on 5-ton truck
  • Unit Hub Node, a set of three vehicle-mounted satellite earth stations
  • Joint Network Node (JNN) shelter: the primary routing, switching, and network control equipment, at the division and Brigade Combat Team levels. It provides the gateways to the Global Information Grid, Defense Information System Network, Defense Switched Network, including NIPRNET and SIPRNET. It also connects to existing tactical networks such as MSE and TRI-TAC.
  • Command Post Node (CPN), a set of transit cases that go into battalion, BCT and division headquarters
  • Over-the-air communications using line-of-sight(LOS), beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS), and satellite radios and lasers.

JNN only operates through the SECRET level, but provides secure tunneling, via TACLANE encryptors, for JWICS nodes that do not use their own TROJAN SPIRIT earth stations. JWICS gives connectivity at the highest security levels.

Deployment

As mentioned, it is a transitional step to WIN-T Increment 1. It first went into operational use, it was as a "separate beyond-line-of-sight communications network to units deployed in Iraq."[4]

JNN's early motivation, in large part, came from the needs of the Army in restructuring from a structure based around division- to a brigade combat team (BCT)-based force, this was not only a technical problem. The organization of communications units had to change to make use of the JNN. Prior to the restructuring, the communications system of a division was managed by a Division Signal Battalion (DSB). That battalion was split up, however, and individual signal companies assigned to a Special Troops Battalion (STB) in each BCT.

Initial contingency use

One of the early demonstrations, and challenges, of using the JNN in the new structure came when Bravo Company, 13th Signal Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division became Bravo Company, 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade "Black Jack" Combat Team (2BCT), 1st Cavalry Division.[5] Problems became evident when the 2BCT deployed, in September 2005, in support of operations for Hurricane Katrina disaster relief.

In the 2005 structure, the BCT Signal Companies had the JNN routing and switching equipment, but did not have the the short-range, line-of-sight AN/TRC-190 radios that normally would carry be used, and had to use the old MSE equipment to have connectivity, via the brigade, between battalions. On an interim basis, AN/TSC-154 SMART-T satellite terminals were assigned.

Field tests based on lessons learned

By 2006, AN/TRC-190 radios were being assigned to the signal companies in the BSB, requiring new training and personnel. A May 2006 rotation of the 2BCT to the National Training Center really was the first test of the JNN system with its full suite of equipment. Lessons learned there caused several organizational changes, which were taken into operation in Iraq in 2007.

Operational use in Iraq

The overall control of network operations moved from the signal company into the communications-electronics staff section at the BCT level. That proved the only way to make the JNN system sufficiently responsive to brigade command needs, since the signal companies, and its individual JNN platoons, had enough to do in running the equipment. The CPN command post nodes, while still attached to battalions, were reorganized back under the command of the STB signal company.

Two, rather than one, JNN platoons were needed to support the deployed battalions at Forward Operating Bases; the volume of communications in actual operations exceeded the capacity of a single BCT-level JNN.

References

  1. U.S. Army (September 2006), FMI 6-02.60 Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs) for the Joint Network Node-Network (JNN-N),pp 1-1 to 1-2
  2. General Accountability Office (March 2008), Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs., General Accountability Office Report [GAO-08-467SP], pp. 175-176
  3. FMI 6-02.60, pp. 2-1 to 2-9
  4. GAO-08-467SP, p. 176
  5. David J. Price (Spring, 2007), "Bravo company, 2nd BSTB, 1CD JNN fielding to combat", Army Communicator