By 2nd Lt. Christine Saunders
/ Published February 12, 2020
Senior Airman Shawn Caesar, 96th Communications Squadron, trouble shoots the recently streamlined server equipment in the base data-center Feb. 11 on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Recent updates also include modernizing a 12-year-old base internal router and upgrading over 400 network devices across 34 facilities. (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. Christine Saunders)
96th Communications Squadron (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. Christine Saunders)
Senior Airman Bendino Galderio, a 96th Communications Squadron voice network technician, troubleshoots the fiber optic distribution panels at the voice switch systems facility Feb. 11 on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The fiber optic distribution panels are a part of the critical network infrastructure on base. (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. Christine Saunders)
Slow and outdated computer communications will be a thing of the past. The 96th Communications Squadron continues to implement a plan to bring Team Eglin’s communications network up to industry standards.
The 96th CS developed a network improvement plan prioritizing its two biggest challenges: modernizing the network infrastructure for the largest Air Force installation to meet modern Air Force needs and setting conditions to support the fast-growing Team Eglin mission.
“We have seen a 270% increase in construction and major projects in the last two years, which has redlined our infrastructure and support capacity,” said Lt. Col. Scott Weed, the 96th CS commander. “We have to modernize our core networks as rapidly as possible, especially given the wave of unprecedented growth across our mission support organizations.”
The squadron builds, maintains, secures and defends the installation’s cyberspace. They support more than 21,100 customers and a $70.5 million network, as Air Force Material Command’s largest communications squadron.
Their ultimate goal is a stable and reliable network that gets users out to the Air Force Cloud or other resources at quicker speeds.
The improvement plan includes leveraging innovative programs of record from the Air Force Life-Cycle Management Center to modernize the base infrastructure and teaming with Air Combat Command to shape the future of enterprise services.
This partnership became evident when the 96th CS was the only base communications squadron invited to participate in two recent ACC-led sprint efforts geared towards improving the user experience.
Future initiatives will upgrade and streamline the boundary equipment that connects Eglin to the rest of the Air Force enterprise, deploy empowering tools to allow unit IT leads to manage their user population and an overhaul of the wireless coverage across the base.
“Improving our network is vital because of how reliant Team Eglin is on information technology,” said Capt. Michael Holloway, the 96th CS director of operations. “The performance of our network has the potential to positively or adversely affect every aspect of our installation’s missions.”
Some of the 96th CS accomplishments made in recent months include: streamlining server equipment in the base data-center to increase efficiency modernizing a 12-year-old base internal router and upgrading over 400 network devices across 34 facilities.
Additionally, the 96th CS began “partnered” testing with key Team Eglin units to identify and mitigate any limitations between the datacenter and users.
Eglin relies on external organizations to provide enterprise IT services and funding, along with mission partners to manage and upgrade user devices. This cross-organizational responsibility is one of the main hurdles the 96th CS has to overcome, using relationships to achieve unity of effort, according to Weed.
“This plan is all about owning our battlespace and earning the support and resourcing Team Eglin deserves, given the scale and complexity of what happens on this base every day,” said Weed.
Many of the initiatives currently compete for Major Command funding and Test Wing innovation support.
“Much like a construction effort, our hardest infrastructure work often takes shape over months rather than seconds,” said Weed. “It requires winning hard corporate battles to earn resourcing we don’t have, garnering outside help we haven’t typically received, and partnering in ways we never have before.”
The 96th CS’s number one goal is to improve the overall Team Eglin user experience, and support the installation’s diverse joint missions in every possible way.