SAN ANTONIO, Texas --- While protecting the nation and seeking out the enemy, U.S. military forces must exchange sensitive information safely and securely. The Air Force Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System allows multi-media communications between authorized individuals by secure means, and in a timely manner.
To better utilize the Air Force’s top secret communications system, a migration is nearing completion to consolidate all legacy Air Force and Air National Guard JWICS, synchronizing JWICS Air Force-wide, said Melanie Weems, program manager, AF JWICS Program Management Office.
Previously, JWICS systems were owned and operated by individual commands and units in the Air Force, said Michael DiCosimo, contract project manager, AF JWICS migration. Over 100 individual sites, comprising 38 legacy domains, were identified for migration.
The new AF JWICS will standardize the Air Force system globally, but the process for migrating such a large number of dissimilar sites has been very time consuming.
“The migrations themselves are being done remotely, all from here at JBSA-Lackland,” DiCosimo said. “But, before we migrate a single user or workstation, there are weeks, and sometimes months, worth of site preparation that must occur in order to ensure mission integrity for the migrating site, and the overall success of the migration.”
The AF JWICS is a centrally managed system that will synchronize core services, such as active directory authentication, exchange services, Microsoft Office, patch management, file storage, anti-virus and other essentials everyone needs to operate securely and productively, DiCosimo said. “It will also include a standard desktop configuration and core operating system package that will be standardized across the enterprise.”
Legacy applications unique to a unit’s mission will still be run locally by the unit, and not by the AF JWICS enterprise team in San Antonio.
There are many units on AF JWICS with unique missions, such as weather or remotely piloted aircraft missions, and those specialized applications will still be managed by unit personnel, DiCosimo said.
The migration and consolidation of legacy JWICS sites into one unified, centrally managed enterprise will help achieve several goals. Everything will be streamlined, and security incidences are expected to decrease, said Weems.
“We are removing dependence on outside sources, and standardizing networks and naming conventions, in addition to ensuring all anti-virus scans and security updates are run in a timely manner,” she said.
“In addition to sites managing their own legacy JWICS environments, there are several Air National Guard units currently on Army JWICs, and those sites will also be moved to Air Force JWICs with this migration,” Weems said. This will eliminate dependence on other, non-Air Force systems.
Benefits the users will see post-migration are ease of access and standardization of experiences.
Previously, if personnel went on a temporary duty assignment, they couldn’t access their JWICS email or files, Weems said. With the migration, anyone, anywhere, with a JWICS account and access to a secure computer system, can access all of their information.
The new AF JWICS will assist Airmen in communicating with others securely, when it matters most, she said.
“With all JWICS programs running from a single location, collaboration will be easier and will better ensure the mission needs are met quickly and efficiently,” Weems said.
An additional plus of the new system is that it will take fewer personnel to operate.
“No extra folks will be needed to manage multiple domains,” Weems said. “This will return military personnel to their units for other things.”
Currently, all 38 legacy domains have been migrated, Weems said. Now, the Air National Guard sites are being scheduled for the conversion.
Outside of the migration, the 625th Air Communications Squadron is responsible for day-to-day operations of stateside AF JWICS, while additional units manage the overseas AF JWICS.