According to the investigation launched by Computer Weekly, the UK plays an important role in maintaining the US military network. The UK is helping in providing the core communications between the drone operations.
DISN known as the Defense Information Systems Network is used for this kind of work. The official documents state that the “Service shall be between a DISN service delivery point at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti and a DISN ODXC at RAF Croughton, UK.”
For a while the DISN connection has been established through a US Africom in Stuttgart. The US defense contractor CACI International has posted the following job advertisement on February, 14. According to it, the analyst would be required to build intelligence portfolios on potential targets.
However, the DISA-Europe office, which is also located in Stuttgart has upgraded its connection in 2012, according to DISA and DoD 2012 budget estimates.
According to the contract notice, the connection goes from Croughton to Djibouti via Capodichino, the site in Naples, Italy, which is another US communications hub. It is also the US Navy’s European and African command centers.
The US Navy uses Naples as a location for installing two out of eight antennas called Teleports. Teleports connect satellite communications (satcoms) to DISN.
Teleports are part of the network project called the Global Information Grid (GIG).
The aim of the GIG is to hook all US defense and intelligence systems, as well as surveillance services and machines like drones into the same network using Internet technology. The network is gathering more than 3,500 US military facilities in more than 88 countries.
The US established Teleports to link them with DISN in seven locations around the world. Two of them are in Lago Patria, Italy and in Landstuhl, Germany, The others, according to the US Navy’s 2013 Program Guide were in Bahrain; Wahiawa, Hawaii; Fort Buckner, Okinawa, Japan; Camp Roberts, California; and Northwest, Virginia.
According to the 2013 Unmanned Systems Roadmap, “DoD and commercial gateways provide access to military and non-military satellites and to the Defense Information Systems Network (DISN) transport and Internet Protocol (IP) net-centric services, which in turn provide global distribution of mission data and enable long-range C2 of unmanned systems.”
“The communications links within this architecture support the C2 of unmanned platforms and their respective payloads and support the backhaul of information from those payloads to tactical, operational, and strategic consumers.
“Wherever possible, payload mission data should instantly reside on globally accessible data centers that enable users worldwide to find, obtain, and consume real-time and non-real-time ISR and other mission data.
“Unmanned systems programs should leverage the DISN core as their baseline terrestrial networking infrastructure for global connectivity,” said the 2013 Roadmap.
The overall GIG plan is to convert all intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) sensors, computer and communications systems, and weapons to be used through the Internet protocol.
“All DoD Systems shall be able to interact on the GIG,” said the 2005 Roadmap. “New UA [unmanned aircraft] systems shall be developed to comply with the GIG architecture from the outset. By connecting to the network, UAs become part of that network.
“Everyone on the GIG will become both a producer and a consumer of information. The concept of a sensor will extend to virtually every piece of equipment capable of sensing and passing data, from orbiting satellites to an individual soldier’s gun sights.
“The vision is a ubiquitous network where every entity exists as a node and can share and use any data produced by any other node, anytime,” it said.
In 2012 Craig A. Franklin, USAF Major General and vice director of Joint Staff, issued an order on responsibilities for defense and intelligence agencies to ensure that they can share data across the GIG.
“GIG 2.0 is the DOD effort to evolve the GIG, including the DISN infrastructure, into a seamless, single information environment optimised for the warfighter to achieve and maintain the information advantage as a critical element of national power,” said Franklin’s order.
“The DISN infrastructure is an integral part of the GIG,” it said.
“BT can categorically state that the communications system mentioned in Reprieve’s complaint is a general purpose fibre-optic system. It has not been specifically designed or adapted by BT for military purposes. BT has no knowledge of the reported US drone strikes and has no involvement in any such activity,” said a British spokesman.
While the UK Ministry of Defense refused to comment on that statement, the US DoD will face the necessity to answer questions in response to their activities.