By Mr. Anthony Ricchiazzi (AMC)April 6, 2009
TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. - The Army's change in focus will drive changes in communications - electronics support and systems integration.
That is the view of Maj. Gen. Nickolas Justice, the program executive officer for Command, Control and Communications - Tactical.
"We're drawing down in Iraq and building up in Afghanistan," he said at a luncheon during his visit on March 17. "The equipment required is going to change. Where we had fixed [forces] in fixed facilities, there are no fixed facilities in Afghanistan. If you want electricity, you bring the generator. If you want a building, you build it."
Justice leads an organization of more than 2,300 employees that fields an extensive range of battle command and communications capabilities with an annual budget exceeding $6 billion.
Because of this, onsite repair and maintenance will become very important. Justice said that equipment will stay behind for longer periods of time, two rotations of duty instead of one. And in the austere environment of Afghanistan, after two rotations of duty the equipment would be "just about toasted."
Justice's solution to ease that logistics burden involves including commonality in the design of C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) systems. For example, common cables would improve Reset time.
"If they were all designed on the same modular component level...how much faster would your Reset lines be'" he asked. "How much easier would it be to sustain a work force that wasn't specialized'
"Those are some of the challenges we face."
Justice said that although the Army partners with industry well, it does not fare as well when it comes to its own institutional organizations. He noted that units are changing to become more integrated, such as signal and maintenance units integrated with infantry units.
"There is tremendous opportunity in our support community to sharpen what we do and get better in terms of the money we save the government and the cost and quality of the support we give our Soldiers," he said.
He said that C4ISR products that are in use now can be integrated better, and new vehicles should have systems installed while on the production line.
"Build those systems so that I don't then have to ship that truck from its production line to somewhere else so that I can install a radio, GPS, Blue Force Tracking and so on," he said. "How much money could I save doing that'"
Synchronizing C4ISR support, people and organizations is our biggest challenge," he said. "You play a tremendous part in that. We're going to have to do better because the next driver is not capability; we've ramped up to support an incredible force in the field. Now we're going to ask you how to do it in cost constraints."
Justice pointed out that solutions are now being developed, such as system of system engineering, common knowledge of scheduling and technology transitions.
"Industry - you partner with the production line so you don't have to pay for facilities, how much lower will your proposal be' How many more units could you build' Cost is constrained. The value of what we do, the product integration, that is the value that we need to focus on. It's your obligation. They need every piece of equipment you can give them to protect them."
Tobyhanna Army Depot is the largest full-service Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance maintenance and logistics support facility in the Department of Defense. Employees repair, overhaul and fabricate electronics systems and components, from tactical field radios to the ground terminals for the defense satellite communications network.
Tobyhanna's missions support all branches of the Armed Forces. The depot is the Army Center of Industrial and Technical Excellence for Communications-Electronics, Avionics, and Missile Guidance and Control Systems and the Air Force Technology Repair Center for ground communications and electronics.
About 5,700 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania.
Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army CECOM Life Cycle Management Command. Headquartered at Fort Monmouth, N.J., the command's mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control, computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the Armed Forces.