HC Deb 01 March 2000 vol 345 cc268-9W
Mr. Key

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what use experience of video conferencing exists in(a) the Army and (b) the RAF; and what were the locations linked and the bandwidth used; [110851]

(2) if he will list the Royal Navy ships which have video conferencing facilities, indicating the bandwidth used and the locations where video conferencing has been (a) successful and (b) unsuccessful for each ship. [110852]

Mr. Spellar

[holding answer 21 February 2000: VideoTeleConferencing (VTC) is used both operationally and for normal business across Defence. Because it is primarily used in a joint environment, the questions are answered together.

HMS Illustrious, Invincible and Fearless are permanently fitted with VTC facilities. HMS Chatham, Campbeltown, Cumberland and Cornwall are also fitted to receive VTC, but the terminal equipment is not carried routinely unless the ship is in Flag Ship role. They typically operate at bandwidths of either 64 kilobits per second or 128 kilobits per second and use dedicated military satellite services, although some ships can also use Inmarsat if required.

The Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) is the main sponsor of deployed, operational VTC. VTC was first deployed on operations in 1997 in the form of a capability trial. The trial was successful and VTC is now routinely deployed on operations to provide the Chief of Joint Operations with one of his primary command tools. The PJHQ has a significant VTC capability and is able to conduct secure VTC with a wide range of UK and allied Headquarters and deployable formations. In addition, HQ Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps, for which UK is framework nation, is in the process of being equipped with VTC. Secure high quality VTC links also exist between the PJHQ and the Defence Crisis Management Centre that are used to conduct crisis planning and to provide operational updates to Defence chiefs. The bandwidth employed by operational VTC services varies between 64 kilobits per second and 384 kilobits per second. It forms part of the overall information exchange requirements package for a deployed formation which takes account of the operational requirement, whether or not the end user is in a mobile or static environment, and the available capacity in the overall communications planning scenario.

Within the Royal Air Force, VTC systems exist in the main Headquarters of Strike Command and Personnel and Training Command among other locations. Additionally, a Closed Circuit Television System is used in Headquarters Strike Command to support operational briefings for senior staff. Commercially available systems are employed which typically utilise a bandwidth of between 128 kilobits per second and 384 kilobits per second, connected via Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) lines. These allow dial-up connections to be established to other sites with similar facilities.

Within the Army, VTC is being used for a variety of applications including communication between the main locations of the Adjutant General's staff in Upavon, Glasgow and London and also with in Headquarters Land and at a number of garrisons. Again these systems typically utilise a bandwidth of between 128 kilobits per second and 384 kilobits per second. Initiatives are currently being studied to extend this connectivity to provide VTC facilities in other major Army headquarters to support a variety of business activities in the future.

One specific application under investigation is the use of VTC in support of Custody Hearings and Summary Appeal Courts under the control of the Courts Martial Administrative Office (CMAO) to support the processes set out in the Armed Forces Discipline Bill. On 18 February 2000, CMAO staffs completed a two week trial which included links to sites in Germany, Brunei and Canada. The purposes of this trial were: to demonstrate to the Judge Advocate General's department the proposed Custody Hearing process using VTC; to prove the principle of using VTC for Custody Hearings; to examine the possibility of taking evidence from witnesses in overseas theatres and to examine the possibility of conducting Directions Hearings by VTC. The trial report is expected to conclude that the aims of the study were achieved although some processes and procedures would need to be refined. The report will recommend that a detailed Statement of Requirement be prepared for a VTC system to be procured and installed later this year.

In the event, however unlikely, that a soldier needs legal advice on a Summary Dealing matter while in an operational theatre, it will firstly be sought from other Service lawyers in theatre (RAF or RN). Should these not

1994–95 1995–96 1996–97 1997–98 1998–99
Access denied 0 1 0 3 1
Browsing 0 1 0 0 0
Password abuse 0 0 0 1 0
Privilege abuse 0 5 2 1 1
Data stolen/disclosed 0 2 0 0 1
Files deleted/damaged 1 2 2 1 0
Fraud 0 0 0 0 0
Other 0 0 0 0 0

The following information is recorded against each hacking incident: installation/system, main use of the system, date, intent/success, effect of incident, assets compromised, additional free text on why, how and actions taken.

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