ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Maryland (September 11, 2020) -- The Army is honing in on capacity, resiliency and convergence for its next major step in modernizing the its tactical network, and there are several opportunities for industry to show off potential technologies to enhance these efforts, said senior leaders and experts at the fifth Technical Exchange Meeting (TEM), held virtually on Wednesday, September 2, from Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.
Co-hosted by Program Executive Office Command Control Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T) and the Army Futures Command’s Network Cross-Functional Team (N-CFT), the meeting between senior Army network leaders and representatives from small and large businesses focused on Capability Set (CS) 23, the next iteration of tactical network capabilities infused with cutting-edge commercial solutions informed by Soldier-led experimentation.
Several hundred participants logged into the virtual meeting to hear experts from the PEO, N-CFT and the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command C5ISR Center describe the current status of CS23, which builds upon advances in expeditionary capabilities and intuitiveness included in CS21 to increase capacity, resiliency and convergence of the network.
The Army views industry as an essential partner in the capability set process, which is why leaders moved to have the event virtually amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Delivery on our mission does not stop,” said Maj. Gen. Peter A. Gallagher, director of the N-CFT. “With the Army doing so much to advance our network modernization goals, it was imperative we push forward with holding this engagement with industry to maintain our momentum.”
To support command post modernization efforts, a major focus of CS23, the Army outlined plans during the TEM to issue a call to industry for advanced technologies in command post mobility and survivability.
“We’re focusing on command post survivability—so smart power, how we work in a distributed fashion, how we do data integrity, recovery and data resiliency, and communications; specifically reducing the signature of our command posts with low probability to detect, intercept and geo-locate,” said Brig. Gen. Robert M. Collins, program executive officer for C3T.
The TEMs were established to keep industry informed of the Army’s tactical network modernization strategy and challenges, with details about capability needs and how industry can propose solutions through a multitude of entry-points into the process. A variety of mechanisms, to include the use of Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADA), prototype contract awards through the Other Transaction Authority (OTA) process and program of record development actions ensure the Army will get the most agile and innovative solutions from not only from traditional vendors, but also small businesses and non-traditional defense contractors.
“Some of these areas where we are looking include broad agency announcements and other transaction authorities, and we have been highly successful,” said Collins. “There will also be opportunities with programs of record, engineering change proposals and other modification pathways. We are utilizing every tool in the acquisition toolbox.”
The TEMs have also been a forum for open dialog and feedback about the process on both sides—industry and government.
Industry feedback from the fourth TEM held in November 2019 led to the Army’s decision to stand up the Joint Communications Marketplace, a CRM tool and database that will enable better government and industry collaboration and communication by automating workflow and providing a forum for the government to provide industry feedback on prototype activities. Additionally, PEO C3T recently stood up the Project Lead Interoperability, Integration and Services, with the dedicated and enduring function of planning, development and technical integration for each capability set moving forward.
“There is an interest across all of us to help strengthen our Army to be able to fight and win in a contested environment against any adversary,” said Gallagher. “This team-of-teams approach is what will make our efforts successful.”
Information on future TEMs, as well as a call for white papers and opportunities for industry to support the capability set development process, will be released on beta.SAM.gov.
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.