Technological perspectives for air base communications

by Willis H. Ware

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This Note examines the relevance of contemporary local area network (LAN) and computer-based digital telephone switch technology to the needs of CONUS airbases, in both the near term and far term. It suggests possible architectures based on such technology and concludes that in the next decade a hybrid arrangement will provide the flexibility and adaptability that differences in requirements among bases demand. The Note also considers the security aspect of handling classified information in base-level communications and concludes that security issues in a LAN-oriented base will be awkward for several years ahead. It suggests, however, that commonsense actions can be taken that will help make base communications more secure, and describes several new National Security Agency-sponsored programs that will make it possible to provide secure on-base telephone and data communications. It makes two major recommendations: (1) that a policy statement be developed outlining the context, assumptions, and guidelines for improving base communications in the next decade; and (2) that a comprehensive plan be drawn up to guide the Air Force on an evolutionary path to improved airbase communications.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.