FORT HOOD, Texas (March 1, 2018) -- The U.S. Army has completed development of software that can significantly reduce the cost of training Soldiers for the mission-command vehicle system known as Joint Battle Command-Platform.

The goal of the interactive multimedia instruction is to provide flexibility to commanders. Units have the option to receive operator new equipment training, or OPNET, in a traditional classroom setting with instructors or they can use the IMI to enable Soldiers to train at their own pace and location.

With IMI, Soldiers learn the JBC-P system via any of three formats -- CD; the Army's online training portal, LandWarNet eUniversity; and embedded into JBC-P's software, which will allow for use on the Mounted Family of Computer Systems. The Army's objective is to eventually use only IMI and eliminate the need for in-person classroom training.

This IMI will help fulfill an Army priority to field the latest iteration of the system at a faster rate, said Lt. Col. Shane Sims, product manager for JBC-P, assigned to Project Manager Mission Command. JBC-P is the Army's next-generation friendly force tracking system that provides increased situational awareness, chat capability, route-planning and less complex user interfaces for Soldiers in combat vehicles.

When the Army introduced JBC-P in 2015, the initial plan was to field 35 brigade-sized formations per year, with fielding completion by 2031. Now, the Army anticipates reaching all Active, Reserve and National Guard units no later than 2023 by fielding 80 brigade-sized formations per year.

"Commanders want JBC-P, and the Army is expediting the process for training Soldiers. IMI will help us field the best available capability by training Soldiers faster than previously possible," Sims said. "We're aligned with the Army's goal of improving readiness."

In addition to PM Mission Command personnel, the JBC-P IMI team was composed of the Army Training and Doctrine Command, Redstone Arsenal Software Engineering Directorate, and industry.

The group started development and testing in August 2016 to create a comprehensive training package that covers the 55 critical task items that Soldiers are required to learn to operate the system. These are split among OPNET, command post and logistics. The IMI format is built to match the JBC-P user interface found across the Army. The project included 3D modeling of terrain, vehicles, command posts and Soldiers; video and graphic design; writing scripts and the accompanying narration; and software development and testing.

George Figueroa, integrated logistics support team lead for JBC-P, said PM Mission Command is using the IMI in all areas of training: new equipment, refresher and sustainment.

"The content is designed around specific scenarios to make the training as interactive and realistic as possible for the user while creating a self-paced training environment," Figueroa said. "With this new IMI, the Army can give it to Soldiers who have never used JBC-P, and they can train at their own pace. It'll be particularly beneficial when Soldiers arrive at a new unit using JBC-P."

After a validation event in December 2017 at Fort Hood, PM Mission Command received concurrence and approval from all three IMI proponents -- Combined Arms Support Command, Cyber Center of Excellence and Maneuver Center of Excellence. This allows PdM JBC-P to field IMI across the Army without restrictions, Figueroa said. JBC-P classroom OPNET instruction is currently 16 hours, but training large units can take months as instructors are required to conduct numerous sessions to train a brigade-sized element. Now, all Soldiers will be able to access the IMI training through one of the three formats.

The length of time for IMI training will depend on Soldiers' familiarity with the JBC-P system, as they can go to the course map and choose the module pertaining to specific training. Units will receive the IMI package to coincide with the fielding of the newest versions of JBC-P software and hardware.

"The IMI will be a powerful tool as we increase the tempo of getting JBC-P to Soldiers," Sims said. "The team's efforts will ensure the system is accomplishing the goal of Army modernization."

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The U.S. Army Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical develops, acquires, fields and supports the Army's mission command network to ensure force readiness. This critical Army modernization priority delivers tactical communications so commanders and Soldiers can stay connected and informed at all times, even in the most austere and hostile environments. PEO C3T is delivering the network to regions around the globe, enabling high-speed, high-capacity voice, data and video communications to a user base that includes the Army's joint, coalition and other mission partners.