NCC keeps Moody’s communication paths accessible

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Greg Nash
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs
Enclosed in a building, working diligently in the midst of routers, switches and disassembled computer and telephone wires, are individuals troubleshooting and diagnosing communication issues.

The task of ensuring over 4,000 people can successfully communicate through their network capabilities comes with great responsibility. This task, however, is something approximately 20 Airmen at Moody take pride in providing. They belong to the 23d Communication Squadron's Network Control Center.

"Keeping network accessibility available while also [maintaining] security is our primary mission," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Scott Randle, 23d CS flight commander. "We provide security with network vulnerability management by working hand-in-hand with the 83d Network Operations Squadron, [Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.]  They come out with the latest and greatest [security] patches to take care of vulnerabilities and work with us to push these patches out to all of our clients on base."

While they work to protect base networks, the NCC provides service to over 5,500 clients on base by managing approximately 7,000 computers and 1,500 switches, servers, and routers.

"Our infrastructure shop maintains all the switches and routers around base that offer computer access to all base members within the 23d Wing and 93d Air Ground Operations Wing," said Randle. "Our system administrators work with vulnerability management and also work with individual's profiles. They determine what applications get loaded onto [base personnel] computers when it boots up. Some computers have special programs depending on what job people have."

The NCC routinely performs preventative maintenance, installs security patches to systems, provide system upgrades and recover from power outages.

"We normally have a couple outages a week and, just recently, we had lightning strike one of the [23d Security Forces Squadron's] buildings," said Randle. "The power surge took out one of our switches which took down the entire building's [service.] We replaced the switch within a couple hours by configuring all the computers hooked up to it. Each switch has about 24 to 48 ports and it can be quite excessive if we lose one switch."

While being solely responsible for continuing, restoring and protecting network access, the NCC advises individuals to be aware of how to protect computer security.

"The biggest thing users can do [for computer security protection] is have their computer up for the majority of the day and then resetting it 1 to3 times a week," said Randle. "A lot of the security patches that we do will be in the boot up scripts and each time the computer starts it will run the vulnerability management patch [ensuring safety]."

Although the NCC services the entire base, they work extensively with their communication peers and biggest client, the 820th Base Defense Group.

"The 820th BDG has their own communication element that we work with a lot," said Randle. "One of the cool things we're working on with them is a deployable communication package that currently has the secured telephone equipment and they're trying to swap that out with Voice-over Secure Internet Protocol. That's going to be cool because it'll limit the amount of weight that they'll have to deploy with.
"They won't have to bring common telephone lines as we'll be able to communicate directly over the network that they put in place," added Randle. "Then they'll be able to route back here so while they're deployed, they are able to reach back and contact anyone on base."

Shared interactions and training between the NCC and 820th BDG is crucial to the ability of accomplishing the 820th Combat Operations Squadron's communication efforts and mission for forward deployed tactics.

"We wouldn't be as successful in our mission without the hands-on support and expertise provided by the [NCC,"] said Bill Smith, 820th COS information technology project manager of in-garrison operations. "The interaction between communication peers from both organizations is crucial to our capabilities and helps us become more knowledgeable to finding solutions."

Upgrading systems and equipment can be vital to helping the NCC find better solutions. Due to budget constraints, however, the NCC looks to use its end of year finances to improve their operations.

"We use our end of year money to get our upgrades, which is how we got our VoIP and Voice-over Secure Internet Protocol solution last year," said Randle. "For this year's end of year purchase, we want to get a radio over Internet Protocol solution and extend its range.  [For instance,] in the case that an aircraft goes down and we send out our first responders and they need to get on their Land Mobile Radios, they would lose connectivity after five miles from base. If we get this funded, we will be able to carry out essentially a cellular device that will take in radio transmissions and then pass it over cellular data, back to base, where it can be utilized on the radio hub.
"This allows us to accomplish two cool things," added Randle. "First, would be the ability to extend the connectivity range of our LMR system to wherever cellular data is available. Second would be, depending on the classification, allowing the Wing commander to pick up his VoIP [phone] and talk to guys 30 miles out on the radio just like he was making a phone call. This way, personnel recovery and local support will be able to be much more united."

The NCC is always looking for ways to improve their communication efforts in any way possible.

Individuals experiencing issues with network services can contact the NCC at 229-257-1834 for customer service.