U.S. Army Africa ready to meet complex missions with newly fielded Command Post capabilities
June 4, 2012
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (June 4, 2012) -- Armed with newly fielded Command Post solutions that provide mission command to remote locations, U.S. Army Africa can now more effectively respond to a wide variety of complex missions that could potentially arise on the African continent.
"Our C-130 [aircraft] version of a crisis command headquarters makes USARAF (U.S. Army Africa) capable of deploying anywhere in the world if needed, but more specifically, anywhere in Africa," said Maj. Gen. David R. Hogg, commander USARAF. "We can roll off the plane and within hours have a fully operational command and control system to cover any environment -- Army pure, Joint or Inter-agency. We have a tremendous capability now."
As a direct result of the efforts provided by Program Executive Office of Command, Control, Communications-Tactical, known as PEO C3T, and its supporting subordinate organizations, including Product Manager Command Post Systems and Integration, or PdM CPS&I, USARAF was fielded an Early Entry Command Post, or EECP, capability in May 2011 and a subsequent larger Forward Command Post, or FCP, capability in February of this year in response to an Operational Needs Statement, or ONS. An ONS is a process that allows urgent requests from theater for equipment or resources to be identified and rapidly fielded.
Col. Kristin Ellis, USARAF acting chief of staff, G6, provided a certifying document dated April 4, 2012, attesting to the fact that all the requirements as stated in the original ONS were not only met, but exceeded. The two integrated Command Post solutions provide state-of-the art mission command allowing for worldwide communication in remote locations. The PEO C3T team procured, integrated, delivered and trained the solutions for USARAF, which is now better equipped to achieve its vision of promoting positive change in Africa.
Also among the PEO C3T team involved in this effort were the Special Projects Office, Product Director Common Hardware Systems, or PD CHS, Project Director Tactical Network Initialization's Tactical Network Architectures and Configurations-Current, known as PD TNI/TNAC-2, and Product Manager Satellite Communications, which is assigned to Project Manager Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, known as PM WIN-T.
"These two integrated command post solutions will provide USARAF with the mission command tools necessary to help complete unique and complex missions in Africa," said Lt. Col. Carl Hollister, PdM for CPS&I, which is assigned to PM WIN-T. "Being prepared and having these systems fielded and ready to deploy at a moment's notice will save valuable time and potentially save lives should an emergency crisis arise."
As the Army component to Africa Command, or AFRICOM, USARAF's mission is to strengthen the land force capabilities of African states and regional organizations, support AFRICOM operations, and conduct decisive action in order to establish a secure environment and protect the national security interests of the United States.
In support of USARAF's mission, Hogg submitted an ONS to Headquarters, Department of the Army requesting a validation and resourcing of additional equipment and services in order to facilitate an early entry and a larger follow-on Command Post capability, the EECP and FCP respectively. Both capabilities would need to deploy rapidly, be self-supporting and provide a mission command capability that could function in a Joint, Inter-Agency, Inter-Government and/or Multinational, or JIIM, environment.
To meet the requirements of the EECP and FCP capability, PEO C3T engineered a solution that included the fielding of Command Post Platform, or CPP, vehicles, SIPR/NIPR Access Point, known as SNAP, earth satellite terminals, along with CHS access cases, router cases and laptops. The effort took advantage of USARAF's previously fielded Standard Integrated Command Post System Trailer Mounted Support System - Medium and Trailer Mounted Support System-Large, which were found to be sufficient for these efforts. These two systems combine shelter, utilities, power, environmental control and tactical mobility to form a complete command operation center.
"One thing that we wanted to do is to make the solutions as standard as we could," said Andy Sparks, program analyst for PdM CPS&I. "The CPPs, SNAPs and some of the other equipment are identical to those being used across the Army. It is just in their basic utilization where you begin to become a little bit unique to this particular organization."
The EECP is C-130 aircraft deployable and contains an integrated network of secure, coalition and non-secure networks. It has a standard CPP that contains various radios and crypto capabilities, and if desired can house some of the Army Battle Command Systems systems to be used by USARAF for mission command and situational awareness. The radios are self-enclosed, allowing instant connection as soon as the shelter is parked for quick at-the-halt operations.
The capability allows USARAF to quickly deploy a small element in support of non-combatant evacuation operations, foreign humanitarian missions, disaster relief or conflict prevention.
"For example, USARAF could be called in to provide mission command during a non-combatant evacuation that could require thousands of Americans and other foreign visitors to be quickly evacuated," Sparks said. "Upon notification the first thing to come in would be the EECP, followed by the larger FCP as the operation grew."
The larger follow-on solution, the FCP, which completed its fielding in February 2012, is a more robust version of the EECP and is C-17 aircraft transportable.
"The solutions could also be used for a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions, such as those involving Doctors Without Borders," Sparks said. "The EECP could be sent in as the initial communication capability for the various organizations called in to aid in the action, and then as the mission expanded, the FCP could be brought in and allow the EECP to move forward and deeper into the area of responsibility."
Following the May 2011 EECP implementation, PdM CPS&I finalized and delivered the technical architecture for the FCP. Also through the efforts of the PdM's staff with both of these solutions, more than $4 million worth of equipment was identified, packaged, shipped and prepared for onsite training in May 2011 and a USARAF G6 Communications Exercise, or COMMEX, in Longare, Italy in February 2012.
Key to the PdM CPS&I support effort was the coordination with PD TNI/TNAC-2 for the reconfiguration of the entire USARAF Tactical Internet Protocol space. This reconfiguration effort was the cornerstone for the COMMEX and enabled USARAF to plan, coordinate and conduct training that would allow seamless transition to any location in Africa in times of crisis or instability. Additionally, the PdM CPS&I Mission Command System Integration Team provided both network and staff integrators to fully assist and train USARAF operators in their overall CP mission command requirements. This entire effort was successfully demonstrated during the COMMEX.
"Filling this requirement for an integrated set of Command Post and mission command capabilities for USARAF was truly a team effort," Hollister said. "The EECP and FCP solutions will provide network and mission command capabilities to forward operations quickly and effectively. In times of crisis USARAF will be able to effectively communicate and focus on the mission at hand."