Deepwater has a pallet onboard that [includes] sensors
like the Automatic Identification Systems [AIS]. We’re
going to have this NAIS that’s shore-based for getting AIS
signals in vessels, but with the maritime patrol aircraft,
we’ll be able to be much further out and get those AIS
tracks for search-and-rescue, for law enforcement, for anti-terrorism [operations].
With technology changing so fast, is the learning curve difficult on newer equipment?
GLENN: I don’t know that it’s harder. I think you would
have to agree that when you think of the young people
coming into the Coast Guard, they’re digital natives.
They come with an embracement of the technology and
the computers, so they dive right in. They just seem to
soak it in, or they come with an innate sense of the
power of all these new technologies and they just want
to figure out how to use them even better.
How important are newer systems like the
NAIS and the mission system pallets on aircraft to Coast Guard net-centricity?
GLENN: [Such systems are] a linchpin, the key foundation. We don’t have as many assets as we used to, so we
want to be more efficient and more effective, and both of
those are accomplished with the use of the technology.
The technology is not the answer, it’s a tool to achieve better maritime domain awareness and efficiency and effectiveness, whether it’s in law enforcement or anti-terrorism
or whatever mission. These technologies are applicable
and utilized across all the Coast Guard mission areas.
When it comes to technology, how do older
assets compare to those coming out of the
Deepwater acquisition program?
GLENN: I have to give Deepwater credit for the fact
that, in the C4IT realm, they have done a lot of
upgrades on the existing cutter fleet. The existing cutter fleet is not that far behind the new assets that are
coming online. … [The cutters] pretty much have the
same radios as the new Deepwater assets.
We’ve done a very good job of balancing the use of
the acquisition dollars [by] upgrading the existing assets
with some of what we’re buying for the new assets, so
that they’re interoperable and can talk. … [The legacy
assets] may not be as fast, they may not have quite as
good sensors, but they’re still effective.
Is there any airborne or ship C4ISR system that
needs more immediate attention for upgrading?
GLENN: For certain sensors, I would say the cutters. We’d
like to improve the cutter radars. The aircraft have received, and are receiving, new radars. So I see the aircraft
now as being a little bit ahead of the cutters in that regard.
I see then, over the next four years, the surface
search radars on the cutters being upgraded, and I
would see the cutters’ radar capability then matching
that of the aircraft. On the cutters, we’re not replacing
the radar, but we’re upgrading it with a new processor.
I think the cutters all have the newer radios, with the
new Advanced Encryption Standard [AES]. The aircraft
have good radios, but they have the old Data Encryption
Standard. We did the cutters first, so we’ll do the aircraft
next to the new 256-kilobit encryption AES.
How do you get past the C4ISR challenges in
the Arctic region?
GLENN: That is a real challenge, primarily because of
bandwidth. Yes, we have connectivity, but we have limited bandwidth. It’s often in cooperation with the
National Science Foundation. Instead of access to, say,
military satellite communications, sometimes we’re
using commercial satellite communications and renting commercial time or commercial bandwidth. It’s a
hybrid, it’s a mixture, to try to meet the communication and computer requirements for e-mail connectivity up in the Arctic.