By Courtney N. Cashdollar
FORT BELVOIR, Va. — The Product Manager Power Projection Enablers (PdM P2E) team, led by Lt. Col Mollie A. Pearson and Art Olson, achieved full operational capability (FOC) of the Main Communications Facility (MCF) on Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Dec. 28, 2013, three days ahead of schedule and approximately $3 million under budget.
PdM P2E initiated the contract on Sept. 14, 2012. The project aimed to increase efficiency, performance, data security and command and control of the information technology (IT) environment on Camp Arifjan. The previous environment, a largely ad-hoc build without coordinated architecture, included a main data processing facility with several data storage sites that provided limited support for the increased volume of Soldiers, a high risk of data loss or corruption, insufficient maintenance support, and a lack of integrated data storage capability. Now, the IT environment is much more efficient, maximizes virtual applications and provides services to joint customers.
DOD has been working toward a joint information environment (JIE), incorporating the separate networks within the DOD into a shared architecture. Expected to reach full capability between 2016 and 2020, the JIE will enable all DOD personnel to access the network from any approved device, anywhere they are, to get information securely and reliably. The JIE will provide full-spectrum support to the DOD in the operation, procurement, and maintenance of information technology systems.
“The enhanced and modernized capabilities of the Camp Arifjan MCF provide forward capability to support JIE for the U.S. Central Command,” said Product Manager, Lt. Col Mollie Pearson. “The MCF computing environment provides the ability to deliver a standardized, agile and ubiquitous set of computing capabilities available to all authorized users as part of a services-based information enterprise.”
MCF also supports strategic continuity of operations (COOP) initiatives for mission command nodes and serves as a prototype model to emulate and capture lessons learned across global strategic networks. It supports strategic diversity between Bahrain, Qatar and Camp Arifjan, and is a global access point in support of Defense Information Systems Administration (DISA) architecture as well.
“Without a doubt, the Camp Arifjan MCF will have a significant impact on laying the foundation for the JIE, as well as being a critical component for all of our future activities in the region,” said Douglas Wiltsie, executive officer, Program Executive Office-Enterprise Information Services (PEO EIS). “JIE is an important vision for DOD and requires seamless teamwork across the services to achieve success. We are already working with our partners across the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and DOD to make the incorporation of separate service networks into a shared architecture a reality, and the MCF is the first step,” he added.
This $50 million, 20,000 square foot facility will serve as the hub for all voice, data and video-teleconferencing capabilities across Southwest Asia (SWA), including all 19 countries in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. The MCF project, including the migration of an entire communications facility, is the largest and most complex project ever completed by P2E. This important undertaking is critical not only to the region, but to the future DOD communications structure around the world. This project will increase efficiency, performance, data security and the command and control for the IT environment on Camp Arifjan and throughout SWA.
The heavy lifters of the PdM P2E MCF Team were on-site project lead Pam Warren; Contracting Officer’s Representative Rey Quebral; assistant project managers Maj. Kyle McFarland and Maj. Peter Moore; and PdM P2E SWA Director Mike Moseley. The team accomplished the mission despite austere working conditions inherent to the SWA region; long hours over holidays and weekends; an eight hour time difference from leadership and higher headquarters at Fort Belvoir, Va.; and coordinating across multiple time zones to manage requirements, schedules and approvals from numerous stakeholders, including SWA Cyber Center; the 160th, 54th, and 335th Signal Commands; U.S. Army Forces Command and U.S. Central Command.
Additional challenges included a complex contract; a volatile military mission and political landscape in theater; coordination complexities because of multiple stakeholders and business areas; complex dependencies with receipt of equipment; and technical complexities involving power generation, cooling and capacity, services migration, and circuit cut-over from the old facility. Furthermore, six- to nine-month stakeholder rotations in theater, including three transitions in the leadership of the 335th Signal Command (Theater) (Provisional) throughout the life of the project, and the lack of flexibility to hire additional government personnel on the ground in theater challenged the continuity of operations.
Finally, the team faced unforeseen disruptions including unplanned power outages, changes in policy that required the replacement of two thirds of the batteries for the uninterrupted power supply system before it could be certified, flooding and two fires on Camp Arifjan that detrimentally affected the schedule.
“We are extremely proud of the challenging, arduous work accomplished by the team, especially by those on the ground in Kuwait,” said Pearson. “This complex project required dedication, the ability to bring teams together, and the ability to think outside the box to accomplish the mission—everyone involved exhibited these traits and I am awed by what they accomplished,” she added.
MCF represents a significant step in enhancing the capabilities and capacity of IT service provision in SWA. This is also the first time since 1992 that the bulk of IT services emanate out of one facility, providing critical communications capabilities in support of coalition operations in Kuwait. The MCF will now connect thousands of Soldiers across SWA and the globe with increased efficiency, performance, data security and command and control of the information technology (IT) environment on Camp Arifjan.
Brig. Gen. Christopher Kemp, commander, 335th Signal Command (Theater) (Provisional), and Douglas Wiltsie, hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Jan. 14 where they presented Department of the Army awards and PEO EIS coins to Warren and Quebral for their outstanding achievement throughout the duration of the project.
“I am really proud of the work that the team did to accomplish this mission,” said Wiltsie.