NEWS | Aug. 26, 2021

JBSA 5G program hosts San Antonio mayor

By Rob Strain 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering facilitated a meeting with San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg at the program’s testing and research facility at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston Aug. 13.

The JBSA 5G Program Management office and 502d Air Base Wing hosted the meeting at the JBSA 5G facility. Deb Stanislawski, executive director for the OUSD R&E 5G Tranche 1 and 2 5G experiment programs, acted as the master of ceremonies for the meeting. 

The program began when the OUSD (R&E) director of 5G operations tasked Defense Systems Technical Area Tasks, or DS TAT, to develop, implement, experiment, and document procedures for managing 5G insertion into the Department of Defense and military services. The OUSD (R&E) 5G is the Congressionally appointed directorate within the OUSD (R&E) modernization program, responsible for planning and managing execution of the 5G to Next G initiatives. 

Joint Base San Antonio  5G is the largest 5G experiment site under the OUSD R&E 5G experiments, with two large programs. The first is for 5G in telemedicine and Medical Training. The second is focused on 5G Core Capabilities and 5G Security.  

Mike “Apollo” Lovell, JBSA Electromagnetic Defense Initiative and 5G executive director, and Jody Little, JBSA 5G executive program manager and director of the Program Management Office, co-hosted the top-level meeting along with Stanislawski.  Dr. Brian Kelley, Ph.D., JBSA 5G’s principal investigator, Dr. Patti Geppert, Ph.D., JBSA 5G’s executive for Data Analytics, Dr. Paul Young, MD, JBSA’s executive for Telemedicine, and Dr. Clarence Huff, Ph.D., presented various advanced 5G demonstrations and overviews of the two programs during the visit.  

Mayor Ron Nirenberg, City Councilman Clayton Perry, and a number of city staff members visited the 5G site to better understand the Department of Defense-led program and how it can facilitate technological improvements for both military and civilian purposes.  

“We know how critical 5G is, not just for DOD, but for our own civilian infrastructure,” Nirenberg said.  

The OUSD R&E and JBSA teams provided the visitors with a demonstration of advanced 5G capabilities, which included live video broadcasts by 502d Air Base Wing and U.S. Army North (Fifth Army) personnel through Cell on Light Trucks, or CoLTs, which connected team members across the city and country together, to include staff members at OUSD R&E in Washington D.C.  

While OUSD R&E has multiple 5G research and experimentation projects ongoing across the country, the JBSA program’s focus is on 5G core security and telemedicine, especially following a natural disaster – when normal communications networks may be saturated or inoperable.  

Overall, 5G-mobile-internet will allow portable computing devices to analyze vast quantities of information for real-time services in highly mobile scenarios, having a profound effect on military functions while also contributing greatly to business, industry and American citizens. 

Innovation in the area of communications does not end with 5G though.  

“We can’t just look at 5G as the stop – once and done,” Stanislawski said. “We’re looking at next-gen communications.” 

And, the JBSA 5G team plans to continue that endeavor with OUSD R&E, testing and refining communications avenues into the future.  

During the visit, Brig. Gen. Caroline Miller, the 502d Air Base Wing and JBSA commander, said that she is excited for both the progress and potential of the JBSA 5G program. 

“When I came here 14 months ago – this was kind of an idea on a napkin. It’s amazing how much it’s grown,” she said. “We’re leading the way here in San Antonio for the Department of Defense, and I think it’s going to continue to grow.”