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Next Generation Wireless Communications (NGWC)

What is it?
The NGWC is a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology effort focused on integrating cutting-edge wireless technologies which provides the capability to capture content and tracking information that will significantly enhance visibility of Army and Department of Defense (DoD) assets. The NGWC will demonstrate global, near-real-time asset visibility across the DoD distribution enterprise; minimizing fixed infrastructure and eliminating the requirement for contractor logistics support in the operational and tactical battlespace. The NGWC concept of operations calls for a suite of mesh network-enabled, information assurance (IA) compliant, sensor devices. These devices that will collect vital logistics visibility data and route that data to the radio frequency in-transit visibility server via interfaces with backhaul communications capabilities already in existence throughout the distribution pipeline. This effort is characterized as follows:

  • Requirements-based developmental effort.
  • Open architecture, standards-based methodology.
  • Leverages ad hoc mobile mesh network technology as the principle communications architecture.
  • COTS sensor-enabled (based on customer requirements).
  • DoD IA compliant.
  • Mesh functionality designed to support logistics business processes.
    • In-transit visibility (in processing, in storage, in transit)
    • Logistics operational resource visibility
    • Applications for visibility within a significant number of business processes.

What has the Army done?
The Army fielded the active radio frequency identification infrastructure that is in use today in response to demands for in-the-box visibility during Operation Desert Shield/Storm. The NGWC is a follow-on effort that is exploring cutting-edge wireless technologies to integrate with sensors, providing significantly enhanced asset visibility while reducing or eliminating the need for fixed infrastructure and reducing the overall cost associated with asset visibility. The Army is demonstrating the benefits derived from mesh-enabled asset tracking/monitoring devices across a significant number of logistics business processes. The Army Logistics Innovation Agency (LIA) is working with the Distribution Process Owner, Defense Logistics Agency, and other services to identify functional requirements that form the basis for designing the mesh network architecture.

The LIA previously demonstrated near-real-time asset visibility, both inside and outside of the continental United States, in 2nd and 3rd quarters of FY07 using satellite communication/sensor-enabled devices. Subsequently, NGWC has been focused on an ad hoc mesh network architecture designed to collect and route asset knowledge to the user. The NGWC is a spiral development effort, producing successive spirals of mesh network functionality, guided by use cases and a functional requirements document. In March 2008, LIA demonstrated the initial spiral of mesh network functionality, and recently conducted a successful demonstration of the spiral 2 mesh functionality which refined and tested the mesh protocols against primary use cases in September 2008. The LIA is currently working on the spiral 3 functionality, testing the refined mesh protocol in a "very large mesh" environment with a focus on DoD IA compliance requirements.

What continued efforts does Army have planned for the future?
Under NGWC, the Army will continue to develop this IA compliant mesh network by spiraling in functional requirements through the end of FY09. These remaining spirals will focus on mesh design to support specific logistics business processes in addition to in-transit visibility. The Army is collaborating with the other services, the U.S. Transportation Command, and the U.S. Joint Forces Command to ensure service and Joint requirements are addressed in the overall NGWC asset visibility solution. The Army will use FY10 to navigate the DoD IA Certification and Accreditation Process and focus on demonstrations and pilots of the NGWC capability enabling business processes. The LIA has targeted the end of FY10 for transition of this capability to the appropriate project manager(s).

Why is this important to the Army?
The Army is on a deliberate path to achieve an integrated and networked logistics capability that possesses the right capacity, scalability, agility, control, and time-assurance qualities to effectively support the Joint Force Commander's ability to project the appropriate level of combat power. This requires visibility over sustainment requirements, capabilities, and priorities; with the ability to track, access, and fuse data into a net-centric operational capability that is actionable across the range of military operations. The capabilities achieved through the NGWC effort represent critical components of a larger strategy that will enable logisticians and customers to see operational requirements in real time, and plan and execute logistics support that is synchronized with the Joint Force Commander's campaign. Fundamental to achieving enterprise-wide visibility to the Soldier, is the ability to collect and route user-defined asset visibility data to appropriate Standard Army Management Information Systems. The NGWC effort will provide that capability to the Army.

POC: Mr. W. Jarrett 717-770-6919

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