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ESC ensures continued sustainment of vital nuclear C3 program

Scott Hardiman (left), Space and Nuclear Networks Division acting chief, speaks to Chao-Min King, General Dynamics Defense Injection/Reception Emergency Action Message Command and Control Terminal (DIRECT) program manager, at the contractor's facility in Needham, Mass., Jan. 9. The Electronic Systems Center recently transitioned the DIRECT program to Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, Ga., for continuing sustainment. (Photo by Steve Mason, General Dynamics C4 Systems)

Scott Hardiman (left), Space and Nuclear Networks Division acting chief, speaks to Chao-Min King, General Dynamics Defense Injection/Reception Emergency Action Message Command and Control Terminal (DIRECT) program manager, at the contractor's facility in Needham, Mass., Jan. 9. The Electronic Systems Center recently transitioned the DIRECT program to Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, Ga., for continuing sustainment. (Photo by Steve Mason, General Dynamics C4 Systems)

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- A key program that provides nuclear component commanders the ability to provide messages to all nuclear forces recently transitioned to Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, Ga., for continuing sustainment thanks to the efforts of the Electronic Systems Center.

The Defense Injection/Reception Emergency Action Message Command and Control Terminal, or DIRECT, program, enables commanders to generate, release, transmit, receive, process, acknowledge and readdress Emergency Action Messages, Emergency Action Support Messages and Non-Emergency Action Messages over all available communications channels to all nuclear combat command centers.

"DIRECT is the origination point for all the emergency messages to the nuclear forces," said 1st Lt. James Ollis, program manager. "This is a nice-to-have type of program, but one you hope you don't have to use. It's a system that no one is even aware of until it's needed."

DIRECT is a component of the Minimum Essential Emergency Communications Network. It started in 1996 and was fielded in 2001. General Dynamics in Needham, Mass., received the original contract and, in 2001, ESC awarded a sustainment contract to General Dynamics to provide contractor logistics support that went through 2006 to provide upgrades, modifications and sustainment of the system.

The ESC program office then awarded a follow-on contract with five option years, the last of which ran out at the end of 2011.

During those 10 plus years of sustainment, the government-contractor team ensured the system was kept upgraded and was operationally available more than 99 percent of the time. For maintenance issues, response or repair time was significantly under the required time period and also, response time for engineering help desk or on-call personnel averaged less than five minutes. In addition, more reports and fixes for software drops were provided than contractually required.

"There has been daily communication, significant management involvement and bi-annual working group conferences held at the contractor facility, where users are able to get hands-on knowledge," said Scott Hardiman, Space and Nuclear Networks Division acting chief. "This has been a government/contractor relationship lauded by users as one that all government offices should strive for."

That support allowed the ESC Program Office to focus on the Air Force Materiel Command-directed transition of the program to WR-ALC as part of the organizational consolidation and workload alignment. This ensured there would not be a lapse in coverage for this vital nuclear command, control and communications system.

The program successfully transitioned on time with absolutely no impact to the mission, according to Ollis.

"This has ensured our warfighters have this necessary technology at their fingertips when they need it and are operating with the most up-to-date technology," he said.