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NEWS | Sept. 2, 2020

JBMDL provides unique platform for Army modernization efforts

By Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris 99th Readiness Division

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. (Sept. 1, 2020) – Although JBMDL’s roots date back to the early 20th century with the creation of Camp Dix in 1917, its focus today is on modernization for the 21st century and beyond.

To that end, Army Futures Command (AFC) is hosting its annual Network Modernization Experiment (NetModX) here from July 20 through Oct. 2.

“Modernization is a key priority for the Chief of the Staff of the Army, as well as the Army Reserve,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Palzer, commanding general of the U.S. Army Reserve’s 99th Readiness Division headquartered here. “Modernization is crucial to ensuring dominance on the battlefield. It drives our processes and systems to support operations in the multi-domain environment.

“We’re ready now, and NetModX is a key tool to help us shape our Army and Army Reserve for the demands of tomorrow.” Palzer added.

NetModX is a field-based experimentation event hosted annually here by the Combat Capabilities Development Command’s (CCDC) Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) Center – part of AFC – allowing engineers to take developing technologies out of the lab and into the field to see how they perform in an operationally relevant environment.

“When you’re trying to advance technology, whether it’s coming from industry or something our government engineers have developed, you can get a certain perspective in a lab. However, when you take it to an operationally relevant environment, out in the field where it’s now coming face-to-face with more dynamic terrain, you will invariably learn things about it that weren’t evident in a lab,” explained Col. Mark P. Henderson, C5ISR Center military deputy.

“You can evaluate it in greater detail out here – you start putting it through its paces, whether it’s in the hands of engineers who are examining it, or Soldiers who get their hands on it,” Henderson continued. “The relationship we have with this base is so important; JBMDL truly helps support the Army modernization enterprise.”

According to the C5ISR Center’s Joseph E. Ryan, JBMDL offers several unique features that allow him and his teammates to replicate environments the equipment will see in theater.

“One nice thing the base offers is that it has different types of terrain that we have access to, whether it be an urban environment, or an open field, or a densely foliated environment,” Ryan said.

“Another thing that is allowed for here is that we have control of a lot of the spectrum, so we have a lot of flexibility in the ability to transmit and receive. Almost nowhere else on the East Coast can we do the things we can do here because of the spectrum we can manage,” he continued.

“This base is a modern base, and I say that because every range that we have access to has a fiber-optic connection to it, so there’s a fiber-optic backbone throughout the base. That’s a unique capability that’s not robust enough at a lot of other bases,” Ryan explained.

“Another key aspect is we have a full tactical network capability here, and the tactical network allows for us to project out into the Army network,” he added.

JBMDL is the Department of Defense’s (DoD) only tri-service base. Its 42,000-continguous acres are home to more than 80 DoD organizations providing a wide range of combat capabilities. More than 42,000 Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, civilians and their family members live and work on and around JBMDL. The base is the second largest employer in New Jersey, only behind the state government.

“JBMDL is on the leading edge of communication modernization, enabling mission-command resilience and command-post survivability,” said Col. Jon Brierton, U.S. Army Support Activity (ASA)-Fort Dix commander and deputy JBMDL commander - Army.

“The C5ISR Center leverages the capabilities and capacities of ASA-Fort Dix because it’s a failsafe in terms of 65 square miles of space, and it’s the only place on the East Coast to conduct certain types of operations,” he continued. “The C5ISR Center’s focus is on the modernization of the network at the Army enterprise level, which greatly contributes to our ability to communicate in a highly contested, multi-domain operational environment.”

Another benefit of testing new technologies here is the vast amount of active-duty, Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers who are stationed and train on ASA-Fort Dix ranges.

“One thing the C5ISR Center learned when it came here to Fort Dix from Fort Monmouth is here they’ve got the resource of having all these Soldiers to test and try out all this equipment,” said Stephen G. Melly, deputy to the commander, ASA-Fort Dix. “With the diversity of training we have here, the C5ISR Center has been able to test equipment to make sure it makes it to the battlefield and is successful.”

The C5ISR Center is the Army’s applied research and advanced technology development center for C5ISR capabilities. The C5ISR Center is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. Through collaboration across the command’s core technical competencies, CCDC leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win the nation’s wars and come home safely.