West Point cadets improve military communications
June 28, 2013
With joint and coalition partnerships the norm on today's battlefields, communication between the services is vital.
When Project Manager, Mission Command (PM MC) became aware of an issue preventing the Army from communicating with Marine Corps forces, they turned to the younger generation of Soldiers for solutions.
"We had an issue where the Marines and Army were using different tactical addressing capabilities to identify and initialize their mission command systems," said Robert Reichelmann, PM MC's technical management division chief.
The Army and Marines were able to see one other's locations on the map, but they couldn't talk to each other electronically, he said.
"This shortfall ripples into other systems and has the potential to affect larger missions and objectives," Reichelmann said. "We were in contact with the United States Military Academy and offered the cadets an opportunity to take a look at the problem and come up with a solution."
Two West Point cadets, Erick Park and Richard Spellerberg, began working with PM MC's headquarters organization, the Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T), using its integration facilities at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), Md., as well as the resources available at West Point, N.Y., with Army and Marine personnel.
"We teach a number of techniques to define and solve problems at West Point," said Col. Rob Kewley, head of the Academy's Department of Systems Engineering. "This project was really their opportunity to try this in a real world environment. The cadets took the problem on, moved it forward for the organization and got a real appreciation of their education and how it can be applied."
While the project was educationally beneficial for the West Point cadets, it was also financially beneficial for PEO C3T.
"We had to set up a budget for them, so we set aside an amount less than what we would have paid others to come out and do the same work," said Reichelmann. "They wound up only using roughly a third of the budget we had set aside."
The cadets were able to come up with a solution and verify its effectiveness in the facilities at APG. The solution uses a piece of common software called Command and Control Registry (C2R) and involves mapping/translating Army and Marine Corps addressing standards. Those mappings are then provided to the Army C2R instance. The Marine Corps mapping solution is planned for integration into the next software build for PM Mission Command's portion of the Army Common Operating Environment.
"The cadets came in ready to work, found a solution we were able to implement, and we were able to save money," Reichelmann said. "We were also able to give them real world experience that they'll be able to take into the field."