By By Amy Walker, staff writer PEO C3TJuly 16, 2015
ARLINGTON, Va. (July 16, 2015) -- During the Association of the United States Army's latest "network hot topic" series last week, in Arlington, Virginia, Department of Defense and industry leaders shared their focus on the Army's Operating Concept, or AOC, and how enabling mission command in a Joint and coalition environment is bringing its principles to life.
Army leaders challenged industry partners throughout the day to continue to provide expeditionary network technology needed to support current and future missions.
"As leaders it is our responsibility to ensure that when the call comes, our Soldiers have the right training, the right equipment, and the right leadership at every echelon, to win every fight to which we are ordered," said Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, vice chief of staff United States Army, during his keynote address.
In a period of restrained resources, the Army must remain steadfast in partnering with industry to provide "simplified networks that are resistant to cyber attacks," with interoperability between joint and coalition forces remaining "fundamental" to all new technologies, Allyn said.
"No set of equipment compensates for a smaller force, capacity matters, but if you have a smaller force it must be effectively networked, it must have situational understanding and it must be able to make critical decisions," Allyn said.
As outlined during the AUSA session, to enable smaller expeditionary forces the Army requirements and materiel community is working to enable expeditionary mission command by developing requirements for agile command posts that readily scale, adapt and move with changing conditions. It is pushing technical solutions to simplify mission command applications, and enabling small forces by fielding portable satellite communications. All while working to tackle networking challenges in multi-national environments.
In order to enable mission command, the commander must have an integrated and coordinated arrangement of personnel, procedures, equipment, facilities, knowledge management and information management systems. An effective mission command system enables commanders in the most complex and uncertain environment to conduct operations effectively and deceivably, said Brig. Gen. John George, director, capabilities developments, Army Capabilities Integration Center.
Future mission command systems will be able to enhance situational awareness and understanding of air-to-ground operations through rapid collaborative mission planning, and ease the transfer of mission data and situational updates between air and ground systems, George said.
"A complex world presents conditions where the enemy is becoming increasing capable and illusive," George said. "Expeditionary forces must arrive prepared to fight."
The Army is eying the goal to enable uninterrupted mission command across home station, en route and deployed conditions, and working to achieve connectivity that is available upon immediate entry and then matures within a theater.
One key example highlighted during the "hot topic" forum was how Army program offices are maturing solutions to simplify command post setup and operations through integrating the Command Post Computing Environment, or CP CE. CP CE converges on common server infrastructure, uses universal clients, and delivers mission command services via web browser-based widgets, ultimately allowing a simplified user experience similar to commercial applications available on today's smart devices.
The Army is incrementally making good progress maturing CP CE, said Col. Michael Thurston, project manager for Mission Command, assigned to the Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications -Tactical.
"We are aligned and committed to implement maneuver, fires, intelligence, and logistics into one common environment," Thurston said. "Our goal is to make mission command tailorable, simple and intuitive."
These and other efforts will enable corps and division main CPs to operate primarily from home station, while deploying forward smaller "right-sized" formations armed with leaner mobile tactical CPs to deter and operate in multiple regions simultaneously.
As the operational landscape continues to change in current and inevitably future operations, the Army is working toward a Joint Interoperable Environment, which will enable Joint and coalition forces to work shoulder-to-shoulder with coalition partners. From a mission command and capabilities perspective, an interoperable Joint and coalition environment enables commanders, assisted by their staffs, to understand, visualize, describe and direct operations, said Brig. Gen. Willard M. Burleson, director, Mission Command Center of Excellence, United States Army Combined Arms Center.
"It is imperative that we work through, not just the cognitive, procedural and technical things, but that we execute mission command effectively over the multinational environment," Burleson said.
The service plans to leverage Army Warfighter Assessments, or AWAs, and Network Integration Evaluations, also known as NIEs, to help strengthen an interoperable Joint and multinational environment to effectively execute mission command across the globe.
In his keynote address, Allyn said that the Army must continue to work with industry partners to get new technologies into the hands of Soldiers "early and often," emphasizing the importance of Soldier feedback in technology development, to include the AWAs and NIEs. These exercises enable Army units "to conduct network enabled combined arms maneuver against a world class opposing force using new expeditionary network capability," and will remain at the heart of the network modernization process.
Critical feedback from these events enable the Army "to refine systems early, saving millions of dollars and ultimately getting the best equipment out to Army formations and hopefully at combat speed," Allyn said.
"Technology solutions must be mobile, agile and survivorable in order for our Army to win in this complex world in which we operate, both now and in the future," Allyn said.