ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- The Army is just days away from an operational customer test of two mission command solutions that will gather Soldier feedback and inform future Army Network design decisions.
An assessment of the Mounted Mission Command (MMC) and Android Tactical Assault Kit (ATAK) Mounted Computing Environment (MCE) solutions will place each product in Soldiers' hands during the Network Integration Evaluation, or NIE, 18.2 in Fort Bliss, Texas beginning Nov. 1. During the test, Soldiers in the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment will use MMC for 96 hours and then switch to ATAK for the same amount of time -- or vice versa -- enabling back-to-back comparison and equipping the program office with valuable data for decision-makers.
"Our goal for MCE from this NIE is to give the Army enough information to inform network design decisions that enable simple and intuitive mission command on-the-move for Soldiers," said Col. Troy Crosby, Project Manager for Mission Command (PM MC). The systems will be evaluated on metrics ranging from message completion rate, bridging multiple networks simultaneously, cybersecurity posture, interoperability and backwards compatibility with currently fielded Army systems.
MCE is the Army's initiative to provide simple and intuitive Mission Command on-the-Move and situational awareness down to the tactical edge. Part of the Army's common operating environment, MCE is standards-based, protected and supports incremental improvements with additional application capabilities over time. MCE will leverage the existing Joint Battle Command-Platform (JBC-P) hardware and network and be deployed to replace JBC-P software, meaning it will operate on the currently fielded Mounted Family of Computer Systems Hardware and the Blue Force Tracking 2 SATCOM network.
MMC is based on Frontline v2.0, a commercial product similar to the Command Post Computing Environment software, Sitaware HQ. The ATAK solution is a government-owned, government-developed product similar to the Handheld Computing Environment developed by PEO Soldier.
In the early phases of identifying MCE capability gaps, PM MC began by building its own solution but soon looked to available and emerging commercial software to determine which best met the Army's need. As part of the developmental operations, or DevOps, model, the team evaluated several emerging technologies as potential MCE solutions.
"That's what has led us to this assessment between MMC and ATAK. At the end of the day, you want to provide the best solution to Soldiers," said Krupal Kapadia, lead engineer for Product Manager Tactical Mission Command (PdM TMC), assigned to PM MC.
According to Lt. Col. Shermoan Daiyaan, PdM TMC, MCE will reduce network complexity and provide Soldiers with an intuitive system.
"Regardless of which product the Army chooses, these solutions cut down on the training required to get Soldiers up to speed on the system. They also bring familiar functionality with them from either the command post to the mounted space, or from the mounted space down to the handheld platform," said Daiyaan.
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.