Army's top signal officer tours C4ISR campus, explores acquisitions efficiencies
February 8, 2012
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Feb. 8, 2012) -- One of the promises of the Base Realignment and Closure process was creating a C4ISR Center of Excellence campus where collaboration between the Army Materiel Command and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology communities creates synergy and resources efficiencies that would propel the Army modernization effort.
C4ISR stands for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance.
Members of Team C4ISR showed that promise becoming a reality to Lt. Gen. Susan S. Lawrence, the Army's chief information officer/G6, Jan. 30 during a visit hosted by Maj. Gen. Randolph P. Strong, commander of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command.
Lawrence saw first-hand how the C4ISR Center of Excellence contributes to the Army's network modernization effort and the efficient, cost-effective Agile Process as it prepares for network integration evaluation 12.2 this spring, known as NIE 12.2.
"This is a world-class facility," said Strong. "This state-of-the-art campus really postures the command well for increased collaboration and synergy in order to be responsive to the Army's future needs and remain relevant to the Army of tomorrow."
He spoke of the collaborative effort between CECOM; Systems of Systems Integration; PEO C3T; PEO for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors; PEO Enterprise Information Systems; the Communications-Electronics Research Development and Engineering Center; and the Army Test and Evaluation Command, all key players in the C4ISR community.
During her visit, Lawrence toured a variety of Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance laboratories to include the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research Development and Engineering Center, or CERDEC's, Radio Evaluation Analysis Lab, C4ISR Systems Integration Lab, Prototype Design Facility, and Communications Design Center; PEO C3T's Systems Integration Lab; PEO IEW&S's Intelligence Integration Lab; and CECOM's Software Engineering Center's Joint On-demand Interoperability Network laboratory, known as JOIN.
The collaboration across the campus is evident in CERDEC's newest state of the art C4ISR System Integration Laboratory, or C-SIL. Once completed, this lab will virtually interconnect labs across the Aberdeen Proving Ground campus to provide the ability to evaluate and configure complex C4ISR systems in a controlled environment, ultimately reducing the risk to C43ISR integration, according to Henry Muller, director, CERDEC Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate.
"These facilities are key supporting enablers of the Army's Agile Process and network integration evaluations," said Col. Dan Hughes, director for System of Systems Integration, ASA(ALT). In an effort to accelerate the pace of network modernization, the Army developed a seven-phase Agile Process designed to allow the Army to rapidly asses, integrate and procure network technology. The Agile Process is key to supporting Capability Set Management activities.
"The Army has fundamentally changed the way it develops, evaluates, tests and delivers networked capability to its operating forces," said Hughes. "Treating tactical network capability as a cohesive portfolio, capability set management evaluates the current operational environment and designs a suite of systems and equipment to answer the projected requirements of a two-year period."
About every two years the Army integrates new capability sets to reflect the changes or technology advancements realized during that two-year period, explained Hughes.
"This incremental modernization will allow the Army to buy fewer items, more often, to ensure we leverage industry advancements and keep up with the pace of rapidly changing technology," said Hughes.
The semi-annual NIEs are designed to integrate and mature the Army's tactical network. Once technology is assessed and integrated in the APG laboratories, if it shows promise, it is then brought to the NIEs for operational evaluation. The NIEs help establish an integrated network baseline that forms the backbone of the capability set. The Army makes this baseline architecture available to industry in order to reduce the amount of time and resources necessary to respond to rapid changes and technological needs of the Soldier at the tactical edge, according to Hughes.
The C4ISR campus houses a host of integration and testing labs that are all in coordination as they prepare for the upcoming NIE 12.2 for the eventual completion and fielding of Capability Set 13. The facilities are designed to interoperate with one another, so the Army can test a variety of networked systems in separate environments.
"We take the risk out of the network by doing the integration here [C4ISR Center of Excellence] first," said Hughes.
Lawrence explained that the Army is going in a direction of being smaller, more agile, and network modernization is at the forefront of the mission. Lawrence stated the budget must be commensurate with the LandWarNet modernization needs to implement the upgrades to support fielded systems at home for training and upgrades.
"Since 2009 Army leaders have named Network Modernization as a top priority to meet the needs of the future Soldier," said Lawrence.
She expressed the importance of streamlining the current acquisition process by establishing and publishing the Army networking protocols and standards in the form of Integrated Baseline Architecture reports to leverage what's available in industry. This effort will allow savings in time and resources during the development phases for a smoother integration and acquisition process in the future.
At the C4ISR facilities at APG, technology performance is tested and evaluated at the NIE. The results are detailed in a 'score card' to aid industry in meeting the needs of the Army before the equipment is acquired and sent to White Sands Missile Range for unit integration.
During the visit, Strong articulated the significance in planning for the sustainment, maintenance and training of new systems to properly resource the modernization effort. He said that CECOM's U.S. Army Information Systems Engineering Command has been an essential contributor to the installation network upgrade effort to include large-scale networking projects for such headquarters as the U.S. Southern Command, the Defense Information Systems Agency, and the U.S. Training and Doctrine Command.
"LandWarNet must modernize," said Lawrence. "We're getting ready to become a training-based Army again. If we do not have the network set to enable creative and innovative training, we are going to be wrong." She went on to say that Soldiers are fully-equipped on the latest technology has to offer while in a tactical environment, but at home, the Army's network infrastructure should be able to support the training needs for these systems.
The JOIN is one upgraded networked system that demonstrates the power of having the capability to be connected through a single network, said John Kahler, JOIN chief. JOIN is a federation of networks and communications systems serving as the technical hub joining the C4ISR community. It provides an operational network to access and validate equipment and systems in a common operating environment before deployment.
"JOIN provides an on-demand communications network providing risk reduction and mitigation and leverages existing Army resources and capabilities for real and measureable efficiencies," said Kahler. Possessing the capability to follow the life-cycle of a technology on the C4ISR campus is one example of the integration and synergistic advantages to having the C4ISR community co-located.
In coordination with other sites such as Fort Bliss, Texas, equipment is developed, upgraded, serviced, sustained, tested, integrated and fielded from the C4ISR Center of Excellence, according to Strong. He said he is confident in the role and impact the C4ISR campus will have on the network modernization efforts.
"The integration facilities that we have here [APG C4ISR Center of Excellence] are world-class and getting better everyday. The Army has invested well in the C4ISR Center of Excellence," said Hughes.