Defense agency submits blast-proof budget request for White House communications

The 2009 budget of the White House Communications Agency offers rare insights into communications systems used by the president and other top federal officials, including development of a nationwide network capable of operating after exposure to a potentially crippling high-altitude electromagnetic pulse (HEMP) from a nuclear blast.

WHCA, managed by the Defense Information Systems Agency, disclosed in its budget that the electromagnetic pulse network, will be based on wide-area synchronous optical networking fiber rings with redundant connectivity between HEMP and non-HEMP networks.

HEMP is part of the Senior Leadership Communication System, a series of interrelated operational systems and networks that support the president, vice president, Congress, secretary of Defense, chairman of the Joint Chiefs and their allies.

These systems and networks would provide transmission support to senior leadership personnel immediately following a HEMP attack on the United States or overseas, the agency said. Funding would cover deployments of networks and shelters.

DISA also operates the Enhanced Pentagon Capability/Survivable Emergency Conferencing Network -- a configuration of systems for the president and military commanders. The network can operate after an attack through the use of HEMP-protected Milstar Satellite Communications terminals and the secure Defense Red Switch Network.

Even though the Cold War has ended, the United States must be concerned about nuclear blasts knocking out critical communications systems, said Philip Coyle, senior adviser to the Center for Defense Information, who served as assistant secretary of Defense and director of Operational Test and Evaluation Directorate from 1994 to 2001.

Coyle studied the effects of nuclear blasts, including electromagnetic pulse, during his earlier work at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. He said it would be prudent to develop a HEMP-proof network as a safety net in case of a nuclear attack by North Korea or Iran. "Why have we taken so long to do so?" he said. "We have known of this threat for 40 years."

WHCA asked for $74.5 million in its 2009 procurement budget, up $24.7 million, or 50 percent, from 2008. The agency requested $154.7 million for operations and maintenance, up $12.4 million, or 9 percent, from the previous year.

Besides the HEMP network, the 2009 WHCA procurement budget includes conversion of presidential communications systems to Internet protocol-based networks, which means voice, video and data all will be carried as bits in the same stream. The Head of State network, used by the president to communicate with foreign leaders, also will be upgraded to an IP network.

The procurement budget also includes upgrades to the agency's Washington Area System network, modernization of six network switches in Washington, the transition of secure telephone units to IP-based phones, the purchase of 24 secure deployable voice switches, an upgrade of narrow and wideband satellite systems, and conversion of the radio network used for presidential travels to an IP-based system.

DISA asked for $69.9 million, a 68 percent increase, for the Crisis Management System, which supports the president, Cabinet secretaries and agency heads. CMS, which involves high-definition multimedia teleconferencing, will be installed at 64 fixed and mobile sites, according to the agency.

DISA said crisis management gear will be included in a wide range of presidential aircraft, including new VH-71 helicopters under development by Lockheed Martin Corp., which won a $6 billion contract in January 2005. Funding also will cover CMS installation on the next-generation version of Air Force One as well as six VIP Boeing 757s and two VIP Boeing 737s in 2009.

CMS will provide a secure, dedicated network capable of handling exchange of full-motion video, voice and data communications.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.