An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Gaming network launches at AUAB

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jason Robinson, 379th Expeditionary Communications Squadron
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing

Airmen from the 379th Expeditionary Communications Squadron debuted a high-speed computer network March 22, 2021, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.

The 379th ECS Airmen worked with the 379th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron to help establish locations that would be connected to specially-built servers and with the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing legal office to establish appropriate user agreements. Three months later, a new “GamerNet” station was made available for certain licensed video games in the Coalition Compound Community Activity Center, with future expansion plans including sites at the Bratchford-Preston Complex CAC and select dorm locations.

“This system cannot integrate with any other sort of network like a commercial internet line, so this is solely a system that exists at Al Udeid AB,” said Master Sgt. Jason Robinson, network control center section chief for the 379th ECS. “We are still navigating some of the challenges that presents, but are very excited to see this system develop now and potentially expand with future rotations.”

Inspired by Air Force Gaming events and teams, GamerNet development began in January when Senior Airman Skylar Harrington, cyber systems technician with the 379th ECS, asked his leadership about setting up a gaming network. Using his free time, he built servers to help with proof of concept, and then used those servers to help start the next step of building the network with “dark fiber” or extra unused strands and fiber optic cables that were run for future expansion during previous network installations on the base.

“The 379th Network Control Center operates and manages gaming servers, networks and gaming software that the communications squadron has the authority to use under the Special Instructions for Communicators document,” said Robinson. “It is the overarching instruction that tells U.S. Air Forces Central communications squadrons how to manage computer networks such as naming conventions, administrative rights and mailbox size limits, and it also addresses the use of Air Force networks for morale purposes.”

Tech. Sgt. Eric Klusman, a 379th ECS cable and antenna “Cable Dawgs” specialist, used cabling previously run to the CAC for the first new gaming location and worked alongside the squadron’s network management team to launch the network: Senior Airman Cadijah Irving and Spc. 3 Jerron Minns set up the equipment for fiber connections that ensured the information from GamerNet is limited to transferring information between specific computers in compliance with the special instruction document.

They in turn worked alongside 379th EFSS community services Airmen, Tech. Sgt. Michael Brown and Senior Airman Erica Rojas, to make GamerNet available to Airmen as a morale-focused initiative. While COVID-19 restrictions do not currently allow for large gatherings, the 379th EFSS team hopes to host gaming tournaments using this system.   

“Mental relaxation is a key contributor to readiness, and the entertainment opportunity future gaming tournaments can provide may help improve both,” said Senior Master Sgt. Zina Dromov, superintendent of the 379th EFSS community services flight. “As service members are away from their loved ones, it’s important for members to be able to connect with other people.”

Current video games offered through GamerNet are: Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Quake III Arena. There is also access to MediaWeb. The squadron is looking to expand to more games in the future as the project continues to grow.