Army senior leaders see efficiencies firsthand in Kuwait
October 18, 2011
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- The Army's top acquisition officials recently witnessed a live demonstration of the service's networked mission command systems at a camp where the capabilities are deployed and used by Soldiers.
Ms. Heidi Shyu, acting assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, or ASA(ALT), and Gen. Ann Dunwoody, Commanding General, Army Materiel Command, toured the offices of Project Manager Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below's (PM FBCB2) Movement Tracking System (MTS) in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait on Sept 13.
In May the MTS Product Office transitioned to PM FBCB2, assigned to the Army's Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T). The organizational move will afford opportunities for efficiencies between the systems.
FBCB2/BFT is a system designed for units at the tactical level. It is a system of computers, global positioning equipment, and communication systems that work together to provide near real time information to combat leaders. FBCB2/BFT provides the capability to send text messages, and also displays Situational Awareness in the form of the location of enemy, friendly and neutral objects.
MTS is also a vehicle-based tracking and messaging system. It tracks tactical wheeled vehicles and other assets and cargo in near real time, enabling safe and timely completion of distribution missions. Both systems are currently deployed to Soldiers in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait.
"The two systems, BFT and MTS, provide 'Situational Dominance' for Commanders in their control of the battlefield. They are essential elements in today's art and science of warfare," said Todd Harden, FBCB2 BFT/MTS Kuwait Site Manager.
The transition facilitates the two organizations' increased collaboration on a new software version of FBCB2, known as Joint Capabilities Release (JCR), and a compatible version of MTS, called Joint Capabilities Release -- Logistics (JCR-Log).
During the visit, Shyu and Dunwoody viewed demonstrations of both FBCB2/BFT and MTS, and saw the installation of an MTS system onto a Heavy Equipment Transporter vehicle.
Shyu and Dunwoody are working together to identify efficiencies across their organizations, which provide and support a vast range of equipment for Commanders and Soldiers.
The MTS merge to PM FBCB2 is one example of how an ASA (ALT) organization identified efficiencies in its operations but continued to provide seamless support to the Soldier.
The MTS transition to FBCB2 has an estimated cost savings of $14 million per year in satellite service costs associated with operating the network beginning in FY15, said Maj. Anthony E. Douglas, assistant product manager, Blue Force Tracking -- Software.
The MTS Program will operate on the BFT Satellite Network. Using the new software, Soldiers will receive the same text messages and tracking maps across both FBCB2/BFT and MTS. The two systems will provide Soldiers full situational awareness, said Jose Navarro, Southwest Asia liaison officer for PM FBCB2.
PM FBCB2 began fielding JCR to operational units in January, with more than 1,000 systems deployed through June. The Army expects to field JCR-Log in Fiscal Year 2012.
Personnel in Kuwait felt honored to meet both leaders.
"It will be an experience I truly remember and a big part of my experience over here supporting the Soldier," said Jermaine Cohen, a trainer for FBCB2 BFT/MTS.
Emily Gee is a staff writer for Symbolic Systems, Inc. supporting the Army's Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T).