Product manager providing mission command through integration
September 8, 2011
By Amy Walker
As product manager for Command Post Systems and Integration (CPS & I), Lt. Col. Terry Wilson held a dual role. Not only was he in charge of providing an integrated command post system to the Army, he also led a team that integrated currently fielded systems into its product line to deliver critical mission command capabilities to the battlefield.
"Through the science that we provide in integration, our intent at the end of the day is for the formation to be more confident in the art of mission command," Wilson said.
Wilson relinquished his charter to the incoming product manager, Lt. Col. Carl J. Hollister, during a July 15 ceremony at Redstone Arsenal, Ala. Hollister comes to the product office from the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., where he was the senior combat developer and branch chief.
Hosting the ceremony was Col. William C. Hoppe, project manager for Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (PM WIN-T), to which PdM CPS & I is assigned.
"Lt. Col. Wilson is a leader that made a difference," Hoppe said. "He has a passion for Soldiers, remarkable insight into the art and science of mission command, and has made a positive impact on every deploying Army unit that his organization came in contact with."
Wilson said that in addition to the family environment in which he has worked, he will most miss the relevancy of his organization's work to the Soldier. Within the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology community, product managers most often deliver a specific capability or system. At PdM CPS & I, not only does the organization deliver a system -- Standardized Integration Command Post System (SICPS) -- it has a secondary mission which is just as important. One unit at a time, the office integrates all of the many capabilities that reside within a command post into the CPS & I product line to deliver vital mission command to the Army and other services.
The CPS & I product line includes SICPS, Mission Command On The Move (MCOTM), and Harbormaster Command and Control Center (HCCC).
"The value of this product office to the Soldier is significant considering the challenges that formations have today with Army Force Generation (ARFORGEN) when the manning, the materiel and the training are not necessarily aligning perfectly," Wilson said.
While PdM CPS & I, formally known as PdM Tactical Operations Centers, has coordinated across other PMs for many years, Wilson believes that its greatest accomplishment was in 2007 when it fully transitioned from delivering just "an integrated truck" to "synchronizing all of the programs of record and non-programs of record in a command post into part of the battle rhythm."
The Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T), to which PM WIN-T and PdM CPS & I are assigned, reorganized in the 2006/07 timeframe with the intent to transition from a system-specific to a capability package delivery. The product management office was ready and prepared to serve in the role of integrator for each formation. It graduated from delivering capability to just six formations to executing more than 60 formations in the first year, and more than 90 formations every year after that, Wilson said.
"Not only do we provide new materiel fielding to meet the Army's campaign plan, but we also provide the training for those formations that are resetting the kit," Wilson said. "That in of itself is a major accomplishment."
While materiel developers are responsible for the training of their capabilities, previously there had not been established system-of-systems training for formations that were not receiving new capabilities during reset. In response, the CPS & I team brought together several organizations that resided in multiple locations to pull together Army Battle Command Collective Training.
Another of Wilson's accomplishments during his tenure with PEO C3T was the recreation of the way the Army fields mobile mission command. Back in 2008, two weeks after Mobile Battle Command On-The-Move, or MBCOTM, transitioned to PdM CPS & I, the Army terminated the program, but the requirement to provide that capability to Soldiers still remained, Wilson said.
PdM CPS & I has been able to transition the old MBCOTM program so that it executes the new Mission Command On-The-Move (MCOTM) systems through the Operational Needs Statement (ONS) process. This process allows urgent requests from the field for equipment or resources to be identified and rapidly fielded. When the ONS inevitably started to come in, the team utilized the lessons learned from the previous program to fill the requirements in an efficient, cost effective manner. The team was able to utilize the work of other organizations to build the needed integrated mobile mission command capabilities.
MCOTM provides Soldiers with many of the same capabilities resident in the fixed command post, as well as the necessary wideband throughput enabling them to execute the art of mission command on-the-move or at-the-quick-halt from any vantage point, Wilson said.
"Because we were able to achieve this level of integration and reliability, those platforms are in theater right now," Wilson said. "It has been a real success story."
Another success story of the CPS & I team is the HCCC. The system is used to manage harbors, ports and beaches - the littoral environment- in Overseas Contingency Operations. This deployable and tactically mobile system enables and speeds the supply chain by allowing the commander to have a Common Operating Picture, to see where his supplies are and help prioritize their delivery.
"HCCC is significant to the Army as it provides digitalization to the littorals, enabling a battle commander to see from the tip of the spear back to the end of the spear," Wilson said.
Although the Harbormaster program initially lacked full funding and a clear path forward, the CPS & I team was able to work with the requirement offices and other Army organizations to propose a course of action for Harbormaster detachments. The proposed kit was a combination of currently fielded Army and Navy systems pulled together as a system of systems that would shorten the fielding timeline while meeting all of the necessary requirements. It also minimized risk, since the integrated systems were already fielded and only needed minor tweaking. Not only did the Army fully fund the program, but it made sure that the funding was in near term years so the system could be built and fully furnished to the seven Harbormaster detachments in FY 11-13.
"At the end of the day the Army won, because it will be a system that automatically transitions to sustainment; it already is leveraging existing systems; and it reduced the cost by more than $20 million ," Wilson said.
The team's accomplishments were not achieved without jumping over a few hurdles. One of the biggest challenges facing PdM CPS & I is to ensure that it meets its mission with the resources provided by the Army in a tight budget environment. However, the Army most often funds programs by specific capabilities and systems, and not only does CPS & I build its systems, it integrates others into it, and it is difficult to define resourcing in that respect. Educating others on systems of systems from a C4ISR perspective will be a challenge that the program will continue to incur in the future, Wilson said.
In Wilson's next assignment, he will serve as the Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) III Corps' Science and Technology Officer. This is the first time that III Corps has had such an officer. On behalf of RDECOM, he will soon deploy for six to eight months in support of the Combined and Joint Special Operations Taskforce (CJSOTF) -- and is looking forward to getting his "boots dirty again" in a forward support effort.
"I am proud to have participated in PEO C3T's contribution to the war effort," Wilson said during the change of charter ceremony. "This PEO appropriately broke acquisition tradition, colored outside the lines and instilled processes for delivering Integrated Mission Command."
He emphasized the team effort that lead to the product office's accomplishments and he offered his gratitude for his staff's dedication and hard work.
"Your uncompromising teamwork allows you to provide a superb product in record time -- and the methodology you used to deliver it is now an Army process," Wilson said. "When delivering an integrated legacy Command Post or building the Command Post of the future, the Army is looking and always will look to this team of quiet professionals who work their magic behind the curtain, gladly giving the credit to others in order to give the Soldiers what they need to be successful."
Col. William C. Hoppe's position has changed since this article was written. He is now the military deputy to the director of CERDEC (Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center). Col. Edward J. Swanson is the current project manager for WIN-T.
Amy Walker is a staff writer for Symbolic Systems, Inc. supporting the Army's Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T).