CGSC pilot course links emerging science and technology with Mission Command

By Mission Command Battle LabMay 23, 2017

MAJ Jones - CPCE
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Steve Mazza - APF
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FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. - The Mission Command Battle Lab (MCBL) here conducted a Science and Technology (S&T)-based course at the Command and General Staff College (CGSC). Ten students participated in the pilot during the first term of the CGSC elective period, March 27 to April 27.

Command and General Staff School leadership endorsed the S&T idea and the Department of Tactics sponsored the course which focused on exposing CGSC students to science and technology relevant to Mission Command. The curriculum consisted of three phases.

In Phase I, the learning objectives centered on the interdependent roles of Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM), and the Assistant Secretary to the Army for Acquisitions Logistics and Technology (ASA(ALT)) within Army science and technology programs.

For Phase II, students facilitated discussions on selected topics: Augmented/Virtual Reality; the Internet of Things; Robotics; and Artificial Intelligence. This phase also included presentations to Brig. Gen. James J. Mingus, director, Mission Command Center of Excellence (MC CoE) and other MC CoE leaders about how the Army might incorporate the these technologies.

During Phase III, the MCBL team coordinated demonstrations of relevant technologies. These events provided the students with two hands-on experiences. The Communications, Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) demonstrated a tool known as the Automated Planning Framework (APF), and the Mission Command Program Manager (PM) exhibited the Command Post Computing Environment (CPCE) application. During these events, students used the developmental software and provided useful feedback to the engineers and program leadership that can help shape potential improvements.

The course also is an effort to return back to the future. Before CGSC moved into the Lewis and Clark building, the MCBL was located in Bell Hall (the previous home of CGSC) and conducted multi-week experiments with then-emergent technologies, such as the Army Battle Command System (ABCS), the Command Post of the Future (CPOF), and a number of other Army planning technologies. Now, although the College and the Battle Lab are geographically separated, the mission remains the same - to advance new and emergent technologies that enable the Army to be more effective, while creating innovative leaders.

Today, these key technologies include the CPCE (scheduled for fielding in FY19) where the Army is trying to establish industry-like common hardware, software, and data standards. Student input is important to the program's efforts to field software that has a "common look and feel" across multiple platforms. Also showcased in the elective was the Automated Planning Framework (APF) where machines can automate portions of the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP), allowing humans time to concentrate on tactics or strategy.

The students were glad to participate in the course and have the opportunity to see new technologies. While the students benefited from the experience, the Army was able to learn how future users expect yet-to-be developed tools, such as Artificial Intelligence, should be implemented to empower future generations of officers to make recommendations and increase the speed of informed decisions.

Mingus said, "It is good to get student feedback on how we use S&T to better enable our future leaders."

The elective itself is based on student questions from the recent MCBL-led CGSC research protocol where they asked if MCBL could offer an elective to spend more time talking about future technology. Looking forward, the MCBL is examining how it can continue to collaborate with CGSC to enrich the student experience while improving MC capabilities.

Initial feedback points toward the course's inclusion in the 2018 electives period. By so doing, the MCBL will be able to continue to gather ideas on applying future technologies, while providing a venue for valuable feedback to systems developers.

Related Links:

Mission Command Center of Excellence (MC CoE)

US Army Combined Arms Center (CAC)

Capability Development Integration Directorate (CDID)