Monday, November 3, 2014

AFGSC launches MAF Wi-Fi

by Senior Airman Jannelle Dickey
Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

11/3/2014 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La.  -- Air Force Global Strike Command introduced new wireless capabilities to the unclassified area of the missile alert facilities across the intercontinental ballistic missile enterprise.

"With the understanding that this Wi-Fi project is the Global Strike commander's number one quality-of-life priority, we worked relentlessly to deliver Wi-Fi capability to the topside of the MAFs," said Maj. Scott Papineau, AFGSC communications plans and policies branch chief. "Delivering Wi-Fi capability to each one of the 45 MAFs provides our Airmen access for morale and recreational purposes, and does so using their own personal devices."

Airmen are deployed three- to four-days at a time to these isolated facilities with their personal devices lacking a signal to accommodate them. The locations of the MAFs vary from as little as 30 minutes away from base to more than 140 miles away from the nearest Air Force base.

"Given the rural environment most MAFs are located, it was challenging to upgrade telecommunications systems, especially adding Wi-Fi, out to such remote locations," Papineau said.

He went on to explain further complications that affected the installation process of the Wi-Fi networks.

"Most MAFs are serviced by different local telephone companies that operate with different rules and procedures," Papineau said. "Partnering with Verizon, we were able to get the work done by dealing with these multiple telecommunication companies to perform the work at each location; it was a lot of coordination and follow-up.

"We also coordinated with Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center at Kirkland Air Force Base, New Mexico, and obtained approval for introducing the Wi-Fi access points. The concern was whether or not the signals being emitted through the facility could interfere with other systems," Papineau added.

To determine if the Wi-Fi network was safe, secure, and effective, the communications project officers partnered with cyber vulnerability assessments experts from 24th Air Force.

"The experts from 24th Air Force traveled with our team to Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, and spent about a week visiting a number of MAFs," Papineau said. "Using the Wi-Fi access, the team tried to access the AF network, and we were happy to say each attempt failed."

A. G. Hatcher Jr., the AFGSC director of communications, expressed the importance of this milestone.

"Bringing Wi-Fi capability to every MAF across the command is a testament to the dedication and commitment of the entire team," he said. He went on to add: "This was a two-fold initiative: phase one was to provide the initial capability to thousands of Airmen working at remote locations in our missile fields and the next phase will be to make it an even better 'Starbucks-like' experience by increasing the bandwidth and extending the access range."

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