‘NMCI In a Box’
Deployable Site Transport Boundary provides better
network connectivity for Marines and Sailors in remote areas
By MATT HILBURN, Associate Editor
Marines deploying to remote areas for brief
amounts of time on short notice could not
always bring the computer gear needed to
have quick, reliable connections back to the Navy
Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI), particularly with multiple users. But since March, III Marine Expeditionary
Force (MEF), forward deployed to Okinawa, Japan, has
been using a Deployable Site Transport Boundary
(DSTB), also known as “NMCI in a box,” which can
provide deployed Marines the kind of connectivity and
network performance they have been lacking.
DSTB gives the Navy and Marine Corps a standalone,
ruggedized, mobile solution that allows direct connectivity to the NMCI network, regardless of location limitations.
DSTB includes hardware, server, routers, switches, Virtual
Private Network capability, power supply and local-, wide-and base-area network connectivity. It is the size of a small
refrigerator. Each “box” costs roughly $75,000.
Basically, DSTB can be considered a military-grade
Virtual Private Network with a lot more functionality to
provide better performance in a deployed environment.
A Virtual Private Network uses a public telecommunication infrastructure, such as the Internet, to provide
remote offices or individual users with secure access to
their organization’s network.
Up to 100 warfighters can connect to one DSTB box using just one
Internet Protocol address. DSTB
performs over high-latency circuits
(satellites) and non-NMCI surrogate
networks, such as hotels, overseas
Internet connections or aboard
DSTB, which has been in development for about a year and a half,
was a perfect solution for III MEF,
said Lt. Col. Richard E. Leino, assistant chief of staff, G- 6, for the 3d
Marine Logistics Group.
“We tend to deploy for short
periods of time to sometimes semi-permissive environments, where they’re happy to have you there, but they
want you to have a small footprint, and so we try to minimize the gear we bring,” he said.
Leino said that in 2006, when Marines were called
to a humanitarian mission in Indonesia, they wanted
to keep a small footprint as they were not going to be
deployed for more than a week, so a number of servers
that ordinarily would have been brought in were not.
The ones that did ended up getting overloaded.
“We went in there very light and we found out that the
tactical networks really wouldn’t support what we were
trying to do,” he said. “Our networks got clobbered.”
One of the main advantages of DSTB, Leino said, is
“pattern caching,” which is, for example, when a downloaded document is cached so that when someone else
wants to download the same document, they don’t have to
reach back over the Internet connection and download it
again. Instead, all they would do is download any changes
that might have been made to a document, saving huge
amounts of bandwidth for other communications. The
same would be true for commonly accessed Web pages.
Another advantage of DSTB, Leino said, is that users
will have the same experience in the field as they do
back in the office.
The Deployable Site Transport Boundary (DSTB) connects
Marines to the Navy Marine Corps Intranet regardless of location.
■ System comprises hardware, server, routers, switches, Virtual
Private Network capability, power supply and local-, wide- and
base-area network connectivity.
■ DSTB does not become bogged down by high traffic.
■ Little planning is needed for deployment; just unplug the box