Only about 20 percent of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations’ network has migrated to the main Air Force network, called AFNET.
Over the next year or so, Chuck Elmore, the chief information officer of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, said he plans to transition the other 80 percent of his network to AFNET.
Elmore said there are bigger benefits for his office than just the basic improvements that come with network consolidation across 240 locations.
“On rough numbers, just on switches themselves … each is about $15,000, at 150 bases is about $2.25 million, so that’s $2.25 million worth of equipment I no longer will have to operate, maintain and replace,” Elmore said. “More than likely, in most cases we are pretty small in terms of the number of people, we will attach directly to the switch that’s already on the base, or the switch we will have to buy will cost much less than that in order to ride on the AFNET. The local base will take over the operations and maintenance of that equipment.”
Additionally, Elmore said he will reduce the amount of help desk staff his office will have to support.
“I will see a manpower reduction and I do not foresee in any case the local bases will see an increase in manpower,” he said. “One of my desires when I got here was to get out as best I could to get out of the day-to-day maintenance of the IT plumbing, which is the file servers, the email servers and those kinds of things that run every day and take care of the basic needs of our customers. I want to spend more time and resources working more directly with the law enforcement, counter intelligence workforce; we have to drive efficiencies and help them do their job, and get away from the mundane work of taking care of the plumbing. I want my folks focused on the mission specific requirements that our command has.”
Elmore said over the next 9-to-12 months about 80-to-90 percent of the OSI’s network will be on the AFNET.
The bases that will be absorbing these new customers have some concerns, but Elmore said it’s a matter of explaining and educating the commanders on what’s really happening.
“Once we collapse this network, we basically hand over our local staff, all of the investigators and analysts and folks that are in the field, to the local base for them to now become the maintainer for those folks. So in the future once they turn the switch and they are operating on the local base, when one of our individuals has a problem, he picks up the phone and calls the local base’s helpdesk staff. So to the local base, we are a new body of people they never had to concern themselves with before, and in a world of tight resources every tenet of the base drives part of a manpower bill back to the commander,” he said. “We are getting a little bit of push back from some of the larger installations where we have 50 or 100 people. It’s not that they don’t want to do it, but they don’t understand it and what we do, and what we will bring to them when we collapse this network.”
The network consolidation effort also will open the door to bigger changes for the Office of Special Investigations.
Elmore said his organization still relies on spreadsheets, briefing slides and disparate databases to share and store data.
So over the next few years, the OSI will move to a single database so information can be entered, tracked and easily reused for budget, mission and manpower planning needs.
He said this is a multi-year effort starting with two modules to bring together separate databases.
“In the next 4-to-5 years, we will have a single database with manpower resources, budget resources, logistics and everything that we need to run headquarters data-wise,” Elmore said.
OSI also is part of the Air Force’s initial group of offices attempting to transition to Microsoft Windows 10, as required by Defense Deputy Secretary Bob Work.
“The DoD’s implementation of Windows 10 is not like what we’ve seen and experienced on our home network,” Elmore said. “The DoD’s implementation of Windows 10 is going to be implemented with credential guard, which brings in a whole new ballgame in how we administer and use workstations in the Department of Defense. It’s much more secure; however, the BIOS settings and basically the hardware and BIOS-level software on the workstations we’ve typically bought over the years will not support the credential guard capabilities of Windows 10. Also in some cases, and I don’t have specific instances of this, we also know Windows 10 with credential guard will not work with most, if not all, virtual desktop implementations across the DoD. So where ever I have a virtual desktop implementation, we may have to look at either wavering the requirements to allow that to continue to work, or switch back from a virtual desktop back to a hard client desktop to be able to implement security requirements of Windows 10.”
Elmore said he’s heard anywhere from 50-to-70 percent of all computers are not compatible with Windows 10, meaning there may be a need for a major refresh across the Air Force.
“OSI and the rest of the major commands and agencies, rather than going out on our own and do a one-for-one replacement, we are trying to look at this problem as an Air Force enterprisewide problem and come up with smarter solutions than doing these one-for-one replacements,” he said. “Once we know the how, then the implementation part becomes easier.”