By Devon BistarkeyDecember 7, 2015
FT. BLISS, Texas (December 7, 2015) -- Before any type of military movement, Soldiers conduct a set of checks known as Preventative Maintenance Checks and Services, or PMCS, which not only improves their ability to use equipment but also increases effectiveness.
With the same system of checks in mind, Soldiers participated in a Risk Reduction Evaluation (RRE) at Fort Bliss, Texas in November to evaluate mission command systems.
During the two-week event Soldiers were able to take an early look at the Command Post Computing Environment (CP CE) v2, a web-based software system that consolidates and simplifies the separate capabilities commanders use for missions related to all the warfighting functions into a single architecture.
Working with Soldiers helps identify any gaps before moving forward to the Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 16.2 Operational Assessment (OA) where the full CP CE v2 concept will be demonstrated in May.
In line with the Army's shift toward a Common Operating Environment (COE), which establishes a common foundation of shared components across key systems, soldiers were able to train and operate on the latest version of CP CE A part of the transition to COE, introduction of new software upgrades help to ease training burdens through early exposure to web-based systems.
During the event, Capt. Boyd Hitara, operations shop planner with 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry, and his team, were introduced to the collaborative widget software system as part of the RRE. They were able to react to mission scenarios, conduct attacks and prepare defensive tactics while testing system interoperability.
"The rest of the Army hasn't seen this," Hitara said, adding that with the mission requirement to ensure all systems were working together, his team was able to experience CP CE v2 as a full concept that creates less steps in order to do the job.
For operators, transitioning to web-based widgets that can be accessed via a secure internet, offers an intuitive and simplified user experience.
"It mirrors a webpage you are used to accessing every day," said Sgt. 1st Class Teddy Scott, field artillery data specialist with Operational Test Command, Integrated Test and Evaluation Test Directorate (ITED).
After receiving two days of training, Scott quickly became proficient in building, initiating and executing fire missions utilizing the fires widget that enables planning, tracks updates on missions called-in and target monitoring, currently only accessed through the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS) "thick" standalone system.
As the system solution that provides commanders with a consolidated readiness picture, CP CE v2 capability also includes the core infrastructure of the Ozone Widget Framework and CP CE Map widget. As a web-accessed common 3D map, the Map Widget allows overlays and graphics from all functions to be displayed onto a single screen allowing for a Common Operating Picture (COP) along with additional widgets that support engineer functions.
Similar to an app, the engineer widget enables Soldiers to manage: roads, routes, bridges, obstacles, hazards, vertical and horizontal construction projects. Additionally, the engineer staff Soldier can use the maneuver widget to access the COP, create and disseminate graphics, and subscribe to data feeds from other staff functions.
The training-meets-technology environment introduced new users to new systems with the goal of identifying challenges and finding workarounds. Getting early feedback helps to mitigate common errors. In the same way Soldiers conduct a PMCS to ensure equipment is operational, the RRE checks system capabilities to provide familiarization and reduce errors.
"This is an opportunity to get Soldiers on the system early in order to get their feedback," said Capt. Reginald Bennett, assistant product manager, Distributed Common Ground Systems-Army (DCGS-A). "Soldiers were given time on the system to become more familiar with the widgets, and to give our test and evaluation group the ability to capture live data on the system as it was being used by Soldiers."
Lessons learned at the RRE help to drive system success going into the OA at NIE 16.2 given the opportunity to work in a closed network environment to identify potential issues and determine the appropriate mitigation and resolution strategies.
"Above all, our confidence in the system was validated as we did not have any big surprises; with CP CEv2 being an incremental step toward CP CEv3, it was great to hear the Soldiers confirm our goals for CP CE: that the widgets were intuitive and easy to learn," said Bennett.