U.S. MARINE CORPS
Marine Sgt. Brian D. Smith, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit data chief, prepares a rugged laptop computer during a 2006
communications exercise at Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field, Bogue Field, N.C. The Marine Corps now is using a
Deployable Site Transport Boundary solution that includes hardware, servers, routers, switches and Virtual Private
Network capability to provide better connectivity to the Navy Marine Corps Intranet in austere locations.
Though DSTB can only handle unclassified information, Leino said that with the types of missions III
MEF has been doing — mainly humanitarian assistance — it is not a limitation.
“You’re dealing with non-governmental organizations and that sort of thing, and so you don’t necessarily have a lot of classified traffic,” he said.
DSTB also requires little predeployment planning.
“A unit may be in the garrison one day and on a C-130
the next going to some disaster area or hotspot,” said Ron
Bowlin, manager of NMCI Enterprise Engineering Services at EDS, whose initial NMCI contract in 2002 was
extended in 2007 and now is worth $9.9 billion. “They
don’t have time to figure out what applications they need,
pack up everything, make sure it’s all current and determine what spares are needed. With this, they just send
two men over to the box, unplug it, pick it up and go.”
NMCI was designed to consolidate 200 separate
Navy and Marine Corps computer systems. More than
700,000 Sailors, Marines and civilians now use the
NMCI on their personal computers, laptops and
mobile wireless equipment.
An NMCI laptop does have, for example, something
called Broadband Unclassified Remote Access Service
that allows a user to connect to NMCI from any
Internet connection. Leino said it works fine with just
one user, but when you try to have multiple users
access through it, it gets very slow, like what happened
NMCI does allow a user to deploy their “seat,”
where it essentially detaches from the NMCI network
and can be administratively available to rejoin via an
ad-hoc network, in the field, for example. But Leino
called that process “pretty painful.”
“It’s functional, but it’s very labor intensive,” said
Bowlin. “It requires a lot of building, rebuilding of laptops and work stations.”
DSTB, Leino said, has been deployed with III MEF to
the recent Cobra Gold exercise, aimed at improving U.S.,
Thai, Singaporean, Japanese and Indonesia military
readiness and security relationships. He said two DSTBs
were deployed, each serving 40 to 50 users. DSTB also
has been deployed with the Marines to Korea.
And while the use of DSTB is currently limited to III
MEF, Bowlin said it would be a very good solution for
the Navy as well.
“Once this word spreads, they’re going to see the
Navy side of our customer base very interested in this
technology as well,” he said, adding, however, that the
Navy, because of the much greater number of applications it uses compared to the Marine Corps, presents a
The Marine Corps has purchased four DSTBs and
plans to buy a fifth in the near future, officials said. ■