KEMAMAN, Malaysia (NNS) -- A reliable system that allows combined forces to communicate through secure channels and share information in a tactical, real-time setting created enhanced interoperability between U.S. and Malaysian armed forces at this year's 13th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise which entered its third phase July 3.
The Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System, or CENTRIXS, is the fairly significant piece of the CARAT puzzle that makes everything click. CENTRIXS has been the great enabler, allowing ship-to-ship operational dialogue between the two nations in both text and Web-based formats.
Rear Adm. William Burke, the executive agent of CARAT, has long expressed the value of CENTRIXS to CARAT and believes the system not only bridges the communication gap between participating nations, it takes the exercise to a more challenging level.
"Communication is the key to our success," Burke said. "With CENTRIXS installed in the exercise headquarters, on board Royal Malaysian Navy ships, and throughout the U.S. CARAT Task Group, we have an opportunity to reach new heights in combined command and control."
CENTRIXS consists of a collection of coalition wide area networks (WAN) known as "enclaves" which include CENTRIXS Four Eyes (CFE), for the United States, Australia, Canada and Great Britain; CENTRIXS-J for the United States and Japan; and CENTRIXS-K for the United States and Korea. The establishment of additional CENTRIXS networks is determined by the demands of the particular exercise or world situation.
"There is also the Global Counterterrorism Task Force (GCTF) 1 enclave, which can handle all 50-plus countries involved in the global counterterrorism effort from shore and GTCF-0 for other countries accessing the network from U.S.-controlled spaces," said Information Technician 2nd Class Oluwadamilola Odulana, the command approver for CENTRIXS aboard dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49).
The sturdy, user-friendly system is operated from the standard laptop computer, with assistance from some heavier hardware including an intimidating 250-pound, rack-mounted electronics system. On the lighter side, there are two additional laptops and a portable International Mobile Satellite Organization terminal for optimum connectivity.
"With CENTRIXS you can have one on one chat with different allied forces, exchange information, view pictures, documentations, and mission progress of other allied forces as long as they are all on the same server," said Odulana. "Another aspect of CENTRIXS is its ability to navigate its Web site even if there is no Internet connectivity."
The advantage of CENTRIXS over other more traditional methods of secure communication is its versatility and ease of operation. Text-based exchanges often eliminate confusion or misinterpretation of messages. CENTRIXS expedites the communication process while maintaining system integrity.
"By using CENTRIXS, the communication process with the various forces and CARAT headquarters runs smoothly, confusion is eliminated," said Lt. Cmdr. Chandra Sehgaran of the Royal Malaysian Navy. "It makes the communications network more reliable, valid and practical."
Global interoperability and interconnectivity in an easy-to-use format is what makes CENTRIXS the dynamo it is. These are the ingredients that provide seamless communication channels to combatant commands, national agencies, foreign partner nations and the participants in the CARAT experience.
"CENTRIXS brings modern communications technology to traditional Navy tactics and procedures," said Lt. Christopher Sacra, CTG 73.5 operations officer for CARAT. "Its use of instant, plain language information exchange has been crucial to the success of CARAT 2007."
Odulana said he has grown professionally while working with CENTRIXS, but more importantly he's also formed friendships as the result of CARAT.
"I have enjoyed working with CENTRIXS for CARAT because I have been able to interact with other military personnel from different countries, exchanged ideas, learned a lot and those things have been very rewarding for me" he said. "It has been a very good experience so far, and I am looking forward to doing this again."
CARAT is a sequential series of bilateral military exercises the U.S. Navy performs annually with the armed forces of five Southeast Asian nations. The exercise continues on to Singapore, and makes its final stop in Brunei.
For more information on CARAT 2007, visit www.clwp.navy.mil/CARAT%202007/index.htm.
For more news from Commander Task Force 73, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/clwp/.