By Amy Walker, PEO C3TDecember 11, 2013
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (December 11, 2013) -- Known for his leadership in providing the Army with the mobile tactical communications network backbone at work in Afghanistan today, Robert Collins has received a promotion to colonel, reflecting his dedication and steadfast belief in the importance of fielding these critical capabilities.
"We're modernizing the Army's network and transforming our information systems by adding on-the-move capabilities and providing them to the lowest echelons," Collins said. "Seeing how our systems are enhancing Army operations by delivering unprecedented reliability and flexibility for command and control is very gratifying."
For the past four years, until relinquishing the charter in July, Collins served as the product manager for Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2, the Army's newly deployed mobile communications network. His promotion ceremony took place at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), Md., on Dec. 6 and was hosted by Brig. Gen. Daniel P. Hughes, Program Executive Officer for Command, Control, Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T), to which Project Manger (PM) WIN-T is assigned.
"Rob Collins' promotion to colonel is testament to his exemplary acquisition, technical and leadership skills," said Col. Ed Swanson, PM for WIN-T. "He and the WIN-T Increment 2 team were instrumental in delivering the Army's initial on-the-move communications capability and modernizing the tactical backbone network."
The Army began fielding the first increment of WIN-T in 2004 to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. WIN-T Increment 2, first fielded in 2012 under Collins' direction, improves upon these capabilities by equipping Soldiers with high-speed, high-capacity voice, data and video communications on the move down to the company level for the first time. Its network-equipped vehicles provide the mobile communications and situational awareness that commanders need to lead from anywhere on the battlefield. Additionally, the advanced suite of Network Operations tools provided by WIN-T Increment 2 helps communications officers manage the network more effectively to help keep vital signal links connected, even in the harsh terrain of Afghanistan. Both increments are deployed today as part of the Army's interoperable tactical communications network architecture.
In a two year period, Collins led the extensive pre-testing, preparation and execution of two of the largest operational tests in Army history, involving more than 6,200 Soldiers spread over 2,000 miles. As a result of these operational tests and the Army's implementation of the capability set fielding and Network Integration Evaluation processes, WIN-T Increment 2 has become the cornerstone for Capability Set 13 (CS 13) and future capability sets. Because of his leadership, the WIN-T Increment 2 program is successfully executing in the field today and within schedule and cost requirements.
The advanced integrated, interoperable communications capabilities of the Army's capability sets provide connectivity across the entire brigade combat team formation from the stationary Command Post to the commander on-the-move all the way down to the dismounted Soldier. WIN-T Increment 2 is the mobile tactical communications network backbone of these capability sets. As they were being developed, Collins spearheaded a significant portion of the initial capability set fielding strategy.
Under Collins' direction, fielding and training of WIN-T Increment 2was completed to deployed and deploying units as part of CS 13. The 4th Brigade Combat Team (BCT), 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), which deployed to Afghanistan this past summer, is the first unit to utilize CS13 in theater, and 3/10 joined them in the fall. The 101st Airborne Division Headquarters also uses WIN-T Increment 2 elements in that theater. Meanwhile, the 2nd and 3rd BCTs of the 101st Airborne Division are undergoing CS13/WIN-T Increment 2 fielding and training operations. Deployed BCTs armed with CS 13 capabilities are serving as Security Forces Advise and Assist Teams, who work with Afghan National Security Forces to improve their capability and help the Afghans secure their country as coalition forces reduce their presence. The network mobility provided by WIN-T Increment 2 is an essential element to the success of this mission. It increases the pace of combat operations, improves mission command and extends the operational distances units can cover.
Collins' exceptional acquisition and technical expertise is well known throughout the Army, as is his reputation for balancing the completion of all assigned missions with the ability to take care of and lead his workforce, said Mike Hedley, deputy for PM WIN-T.
"He takes the time to counsel, mentor and train junior acquisition officers and peers, ensuring they are tactically and technically proficient and well prepared for future assignments," Hedley said.
Since relinquishing the WIN-T Increment 2 charter, Collins has been attending Senior Service College. His next assignment will find him back at APG with PEO Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors serving as the PM for Distributed Common Ground System -- Army, an intelligence capability that enables decision makers to gather, analyze and share intelligence information on a common system.
Collins said that one of the most rewarding parts of his job continues to be working with the "driven and motivated" civilian and Soldiers workforce in the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) community at APG. But above all, he said, he keeps the troops that he serves at the forefront of his mind.
"At its core, our military and civil service is about maintaining national security, to enable a global peace where all can prosper," Collins said. "Our Soldiers are deployed around the world to achieve that mission and we at APG are chartered to develop and procure C4ISR systems to make our Soldiers successful. Our mission is of vital importance and we should all be proud of our contribution."