SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- As part of the evolution of the Army's Tactical Network Transport, the service is providing Infantry and Stryker brigade combat teams with core on-the-move enhancements that make the equipment easier to train with, operate, and maintain.
The Army not only reduced system complexity and increased reliability of many of its legacy core on-the-move vehicle integrations, but it also reduced the size, weight, and power to make them more expeditionary.
These enhancements include the modernized Tactical Communication Node-Lite, or TCN-L; Network Operations and Security Center-Lite, or NOSC-L; and the Next Generation Point of Presence and Soldier Network Extension, or NextGen PoP and SNE.
The 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division is the first unit equipped with the new upgrades. The unit is transitioning from core at-the-halt Tactical Network Transport to on-the-move systems.
"Our new on-the-move equipment is important as we look at survivability in the future, especially in a peer or near peer environment," said Lt. Col. Marc Sanborn, commander for the 29th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. "This equipment will help us to move and relocate more quickly to avoid indirect fires. That ability to move quickly, yet maintain our mission command systems, is critical."
The Army's Tactical Network Transport is composed of an evolving modular and scalable "toolkit" of integrated, resilient capabilities. The initial core Tactical Network Transport equipment makes up the backbone of the Army's upper tactical internet. Integrated on a variety of tactical vehicles to best suit unit requirements, the on-the-move Tactical Network Transport configuration items leverage robust commercial and military satellite communications, or SATCOM, and high-capacity line-of-sight capability under holistic transport design and network management.
The Army began fielding the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division with new on-the-move enhancements in September 2018 at Schofield Barracks. The service anticipates new equipment training and fielding to be complete in mid-November 2018.
On the current plan, the Army plans to field the new enhancements to two more Infantry BCTs and four Stryker BCTs, with new equipment fielding to be completed in fiscal year 2021. The service will also retrofit all previously fielded IBCTs and light divisions with the enhancements through technology insertions.
"As America's Pacific division, the 25th Infantry Division continuously engages and trains with partners across the Pacific region. The division stands ready to deploy anywhere in the world to conduct operations ranging from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to decisive action in support of unified land operations," said Lt. Col. Malcom Bush, division communications officer (G-6) for the 25th Infantry Division. "We need reliable access to network services to enable the commander to make decisions based on information across every warfighting function.The NextGen PoP/SNE allows for the dispersion of those warfighting functions, which increases our survivability."
As part of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division's on-the-move network transport equipment package, the Army fielded the unit with NextGen capabilities, which can be integrated on a variety of vehicle platforms. The NextGen PoP enables mobile mission command by leveraging both SATCOM and high capacity radio capability to deliver on-the-move network connectivity. The NextGen SNE provides on-the-move network communications to extend the network from the battalion down to the company level. Using its on-the-move SATCOM systems, the SNE can also be used to heal and extend lower echelon tactical radio networks for geographically separated elements blocked by terrain features.
Integrated on light tactical vehicle platforms, the TCN-L provides agile robust high-bandwidth satellite and line-of-sight network connections. It operates on-the-move in a convoy, at the quick halt, and at the stationary command post.
Soldiers use the NOSC-L at the command post to monitor and manage the tactical network and enhance network security.
"The actual vehicles and capabilities themselves are physically smaller and therefore more maneuverable. They provide more flexibility to the commander and enable mission command across a dispersed battlefield," Bush said. "The on-the-move capabilities allow the TCN to stay in system. This allows for faster set-up since the terminal does not need to be shut down, restarted, and brought back into system every time a unit moves, which can take several hours."
Improvements to the TCN-L provide an over 75 percent reduction in the number of actions and time required to start up and shut down the system. The Army created a kiosk-based user interface and automated troubleshooting tool for the TCN-L and NOSC-L. It also leveraged advancements in commercial technology, specifically virtualization, to provide the same capacity of the previous heavy variants in a smaller package, while affording computing capacity to support future expansion. Additionally, improvements to the TCN-L and NOSC-L demonstrated a robust cyber network defense to protect against an operationally realistic cyber threat opposing force.
The NextGen PoP and SNE leverage similar design concepts and provide on-the-move platforms with a more affordable and reliable maintenance-friendly, end state capability that is simpler to operate and train. The new design made the systems easier for on-site technicians to conduct component-level maintenance.
As the Army modernizes its core tactical network transport equipment, it is also fielding new ancillary commercial line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight capabilities that provide resilient expeditionary communications, while positioning for future next generation tactical network transport technologies as they become available. Through holistic and integrated fielding efforts, the Army is fully leveraging its global network infrastructure to enable uninterrupted mission command at every stage of operations, helping to ensure overmatch against increasingly capable enemies on the battlefield.
"Having uninterrupted mission command allows you to maintain operational tempo without culminating," Sanborn said. "It comes back to how the brigade commander can visualize the fight and be able to influence the enemy deep, so you can make it an unfair fight. Our new on-the-move systems allow us to get deep in the fight."
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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.