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NATO Uses Cisco TelePresence to Connect Soldiers in Afghanistan With Loved Ones in Europe

September 22, 2008 | Chris Payatagool

Cisco_BT_Nato_General_dynamics.jpgTroops Get the Closest Thing in the World to a Face-to-Face Meeting With Their Families Thousands of Kilometers Away

MONS, BELGIUM, Sep 19, 2008 -- NATO's service provider is today using one of the most advanced corporate collaboration tools developed by Cisco Systems, Inc and constructed by BT and General Dynamics C4 Systems to bring together Afghanistan-based servicemen and women and their relatives in Europe in a series of virtual meetings. Cisco, BT and General Dynamics have provided a Cisco(R) TelePresence unit at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE HQ) in Belgium and another unit more than 5,400 kilometers away in Kabul, Afghanistan. Through this link, servicemen and women in Afghanistan are able to bridge the distance and meet virtually with loved ones as though they are in the same room.


The first sessions were held this week at the SHAPE HQ in Mons as part of Open Day, an event organised by NATO service provider NCSA (NATO Communications and Information Systems Services Agency) which also showcased innovations in cyber-security and military communications.

"Being able to give our front-line service people the impression of actually being in the same room as their loved ones many miles away is a powerful morale booster," said Director Lieutenant General Ulrich H. M. Wolf.

NATO will continue to assess the technology in other military applications such as facilitating remote briefings and supporting telemedicine in military hospitals.
This unique setup uses Cisco TelePresence System CTS-1000 models capable of seating two participants inside robust shelters built to withstand extreme weather conditions and transportation over rough terrain. The Cisco TelePresence systems connect via X-band satellite, an industry first in the use of telepresence technology.

"The Alliance's use of Cisco TelePresence to link up service personnel with their loved ones demonstrates the power of communicating and collaborating in real time through this unique, immersive technology," commented Brad Boston, senior vice president, Cisco Global Government Solutions Group. "Increasingly we are seeing demand from government and other organizations seeking to replace costly and time-consuming travel with a much simpler way of carrying out face-to-face meetings between cities, countries or even continents."

Francois Barrault, CEO, BT Global Services, said: "Having worked with NATO for a number of years, we have demonstrated that we offer secure network solutions that conform to the highest standards. Delivering the promise of real time face to face meetings between families thousands of kilometers apart, requires a world-class global infrastructure. BT's network services provide the optimal communications experience required to support TelePresence and other collaborative applications, giving users the best 'in person' meeting experience achievable today."

General Dynamics C4 Systems President Chris Marzilli said, "This teaming effort between General Dynamics, Cisco and BT represents a game-changing way to provide military users like NATO with info-centric, high-definition virtual meeting technologies. We are bringing a rugged, dependable, turnkey system enabling highly secure, end-to-end information collaboration and communication to the tactical edge, wherever forces deploy, from operations to exercises to military headquarters worldwide."

About BT

BT is one of the world's leading providers of communications solutions and services operating in 170 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to our customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband and internet products and services and converged fixed/mobile products and services. BT consists principally of four lines of business: BT Global Services, Openreach, BT Retail and BT Wholesale.
In the year ended 31 March 2008, BT Group's revenue was GBP 20,704 million with profit before taxation and specific items of GBP 2,506 million.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.

For more information, visit www.bt.com/aboutbt.

About General Dynamics

General Dynamics C4 Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics, is a leading integrator of secure communication and information systems and technology.
General Dynamics, headquartered in Falls Church, Va., employs approximately 84,600 people worldwide and anticipates 2008 revenues of approximately $29.5 billion. The company is a market leader in business aviation; land and expeditionary combat systems, armaments and munitions; shipbuilding and marine systems; and information systems and technologies. More information about the company is available on the Internet at www.generaldynamics.com.

About NCSA

"Connecting NATO!" This motto sums up the main task of the NATO Communication Information Systems Service Agency, its mission being to connect NATO headquarters and installations all over the world with telephone lines, computer networks and video teleconferences. NCSA is composed of a central headquarters collocated with SHAPE, Mons, Belgium, ten NCSA Sectors that support their affiliated headquarters, two deployable NATO Signal Battalions and the NATO CIS School in Latina, Italy. Permanently stationed on four continents, with a civilian-military mixed staff of approximately 3.400 personnel from 22 nations it is today NATO's largest agency.

About Cisco

Cisco is the worldwide leader in networking that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate. Information about Cisco can be found at http://www.cisco.com. For ongoing news, please go to http://newsroom.cisco.com.
Cisco, Cisco Systems, and the Cisco Systems logo are registered trademarks of Cisco Systems, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and certain other countries. All other trademarks mentioned in this document are the property of their respective owners.

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