Thanks to a new converged mission command application in rapid development, tactical maneuver commanders at echelons from Brigade through Army Service Component Commands will be able to visualize and understand their cyber environment and react to cyber electromagnetic activity (CEMA) threats across their battlespace.
With an initial prototype just delivered to the Army program office, this capability – known as Cyber Situational Understanding, or Cyber SU – will ingest data and information from tactical sources, including the Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A), Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool (EWPMT) and other tactical network systems. Analytic, visualization and correlation capabilities then transform data into useful information needed to achieve the commander's situational understanding of cyberspace, and provide a cyber common operational picture within the Command Post Computing Environment (CPCE) application. This process ultimately provides the “so what” factor needed to drive decisions in Multi-Domain Operations.
“The goal is that the end user won’t see the actual Cyber SU product and will be able to work in their native environment on CPCE and see a cyber overlay of critical information in support of their mission,” said John Keenan, Chief Engineer for Product Manager Mission Command Cyber (PdM MC Cyber). “There’s a lot of work being done on the back end to make that happen, but from a user experience it doesn’t feel like we just threw another application at them.”
Over the last several weeks, Soldiers from the 915th Cyber Warfare Battalion (CWB) have offered feedback on the latest Cyber SU prototype during a series of Soldier Touch Points (STPs). STPs have played a significant role in recent network modernization efforts and allow program offices and developers to gather valuable feedback directly from Soldiers. A three-day STP – conducted remotely from July 28-30 in the Army’s Cyber Battle Laboratory at Fort Gordon, Georgia – allowed Soldiers from the 915th CWB to evaluate the latest software release and provide feedback on how the system can best support CEMA staff with informing the commander.
Leveraging CPCE’s infrastructure, Cyber SU will be rolled out to units on Tactical Server Infrastructure, or TSI, hardware and the latest CPCE software baseline, and will achieve Initial Operational Capability while fielding alongside CPCE beginning in FY22.
“Cyber situational understanding is at the root of everything within the command post,” said Lt. Col. Scott Shaffer, Product Manager for Mission Command Cyber, “so at the end of the day we need to ensure everything integrates seamlessly and provides a user-friendly interface. Converging onto CPCE solves both of those issues.”
Shaffer added that initial feedback from users on existing NetOps tools identified disparate capabilities with their own unique interfaces, creating usability and training issues. By having a converged solution, Cyber SU alleviates training burdens and collapses legacy stovepipes.
Next month, Cyber SU will participate in Cyber Quest 2020 at the Cyber Battle Lab. In this experimental environment, Soldiers in a Brigade tactical operations center will leverage Cyber SU to execute a mission, providing an opportunity for the CEMA working group and other warfighting functions to utilize the Cyber SU prototype in the military decision making process. Feedback from Cyber Quest will inform engineering release Developmental Operations (DevOps) with 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (3/101st) in October to support continued development of the initial Cyber SU product.
“Cyber Quest and follow-on DevOps with 3/101st in operational environments will prove out Cyber SU as a single COP supporting commanders’ tactical decisions,” said Shaffer. “Using rapid acquisition, agile integration and continuous user feedback, the Army is ensuring this critical capability is delivered when and where Soldiers need it.”
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.