Ensuring Reliable Communications Between US, Allied Partners
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This news is classified in: Defense Communications Soldier

Jun 23, 2023

Ensuring Reliable Communications Between US, Allied Partners at the Tactical Edge

  • DARPA transitions tech enabling secure data sharing on handheld devices at multiple security levels

DARPA’s Secure Handhelds on Assured Resilient networks at the tactical Edge (SHARE) program successfully developed and integrated software and networking technologies to enable secure and resilient information sharing between U.S. forces and international allies in tactical operations. The program also adapted rapid commercial development, security, and operations (DevSecOps) models for Defense Department research and development, pioneering novel ways to get new tech into the hands of operational warfighters faster.

SHARE software runs on military end-user mobile devices allowing real-time data sharing with allied forces – at the appropriate classification levels – over available military or commercial networks. The software is now integrated with the U.S. military’s Tactical Assault Kit, or TAK, an operational map-based situational awareness application used by warfighters.

“Before SHARE, security and networking architectures for tactical communications between U.S. and coalition forces were often brittle and required end-to-end connections to large, fixed data centers,” said Mary Schurgot, SHARE program manager in DARPA’s Strategic Technology Office. “Our performer teams developed new technology based on routing individually secured data packets and created software to rapidly configure user devices operating on any type of network, whether commercial Wi-Fi, cellular, or military networks. This new paradigm for sharing data at the tactical edge reduces reliance on fixed infrastructure and enables secure, resilient communications at various data sensitivity levels between handheld devices.”

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DARPA collaborated with military end-users throughout the effort including delivery of prototype software for independent experimentation, which informed program development and reduced transition risk.

“The outstanding support and integration with operational users in the tech development process was critical to demonstrating capabilities at scale and applying commercial, end-user informed DevSecOps concepts to a military R&D project,” Schurgot said. “SHARE built on process lessons learned from industry and tech from previous DARPA programs such as Tactical Ground Reporting System (TIGR) and Transformative Applications (TransApps) to create a breakthrough capability for secure data sharing at the tactical edge.”

The SHARE program began in fall 2017 and officially transitioned to the Defense Department’s TAK Product Center in 2023.

“SHARE brings next-generation networking technology to the TAK ecosystem,” said Ryan McLean, director of the TAK Product Center. “The SHARE team chose to transform how tactical edge networks are deployed through innovative research using named data networking and digital rights management on the widely-adopted ATAK [Android Tactical Assault Kit] software platform. Because of this, SHARE is now primed for rapid technology transition to the TAK user community. This transition is already underway and, with the release of TAK 5.0 in November 2023, U.S. Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, and Airmen, as well as our allied mission partners, will experience the immediate benefits that SHARE provides for resilient tactical networking in contested environments.”

The SHARE performer for the third and final phase of the program was Two Six Technologies, teamed with Eucleo Software Corporation and MAPPS, Inc.