Wednesday, October 17, 2012

White House Communications Agency - Special Missions Command

The White House Communications Agency (WHCA) is a joint service military agency under the operational control of the White House Military Office (WHMO) and administrative control of the Defense Information System Agency (DISA).

A  fact sheet about the White House Communications Agency describes its Special Missions Command (SMC) as responsible for installing, operating, and maintaining the communications infrastructure at Camp David.

Some WHCA systems are mirrored at Camp David in order to provide continuity of operations in an outage. This FedBizOps listing for the Visual Information Command group within the WHCA solicits a contract to provide a digital TV broadcast system for real-time news to key leaders throughout the WHCA and the White House Operations Center. The mirroring of this system at Camp David is listed as one of the requirements.

Another FedBizOps listing describes an Operations Center and Conference Room Modernization Project at Camp David related to the Special Missions Command that would give them the ability to disseminate information from an alternate location.

In 2002, the White House Communications Agency expanded the fiber-optic network at Camp David to connect all of the buildings there to "provide virtually unlimited bandwidth to all users".

Camp David fiber network diagram

A blog written about the White House Communications Agency from 1965 to 1974 describes Camp David's role in the former Presidential Emergency Network operated by the WHCA. The presidential emergency facility (PEF) at Camp David was called Cactus and consisted of a "fully equipped switchboard and communications center with secure telephone and TTY". In an emergency, the President would have been able to broadcast a live address to the nation from Camp David. More information about the early days at the WHCA can be found here.

When President Carter took office, he was concerned about the cost of Camp David and thought about closing down the Presidential Retreat. He changed his mind when the Director of the White House Military Office Bill Gulley told him about the bomb shelter, the emergency communications center, and other facilities there.

Recent Updates to the Camp David Infrastructure

The FY 2013 DISA Budget states that in FY 2011, the Camp David infrastructure was upgraded to enable diversification and to make WHCA services more robust and survivable. The FY 2013 budget includes funding to "continue upgrades to the Camp David Technical Control Facility (TCF) infrastructure".

There have been a number of 2013 FedBizOps solicitations for the installation of new circuits connecting Camp David to various locations:

Here is a 2014 FedBizOps solicitation for 10GB wave service between Room 108 in Camp David's Willow building and room 3N1 at Site R (Raven Rock Mountain Complex).

Sources:  Defense Information Systems Agency; US Army; Cryptome; WHCA from 1965 to 1974; Daily Reporter; FedBizOps

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