ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Maryland (Feb. 10, 2021) -- Soldiers in four operational units are receiving valuable hands-on time with the latest version of the Army’s suite of integrated mission command applications, the Command Post Computing Environment (CPCE). Feedback from this process, part of ongoing Warfighter Exercise (WfX) activity, is instrumental to incorporating enhancements to CPCE ahead of the system’s Operational Assessment during the Joint Warfighting Assessment 21 (JWA 21) in June.
“What’s unique about this series of Warfighter Exercises is that the training audience is different for each iteration,” said Lt. Col. Shawn Chu-Quinn, Product Manager for Tactical Mission Command (PdM TMC). “What that means for us as a product office is that we get to collect feedback from four different operational perspectives, which allows us to fine-tune the capability and deliver focused improvements.”
CPCE, along with the handheld and mounted computing environments, provides an easy-to-use common operational picture (COP) through a single mission command suite operated and maintained by Soldiers. CPCE provides a software and server hardware framework (common interface, data and services) upon which warfighter applications can be converged and future applications can be built.
CPCE has been optimized through Developmental Operations (DevOps) to improve responsiveness, add briefing capability and implement network management tools. Additionally, to improve system performance and to mitigate unnecessary data flow over constrained tactical network transport bandwidth, program managers and developers are working to address underlying data analytics, data dissemination and federation associated with the use of CPCE. These major efforts will be key focuses of Capability Set 23 development.
While the DevOps model is not new, leveraging it across an audience this broad is a first for the program. Historically, the DevOps process for CPCE has involved working in-depth with a single unit at a time, typically for a period of several weeks, and making tweaks to the system as a result of Soldier input. This go-round, program developers worked with the training audience to identify which CPCE software version would be most suitable to carry out their mission in their respective WfX.
During WfX 21.1 in October, in which the primary users were elements of the XVIII Airborne Corps, 82nd Airborne Division and 1st Cavalry Division, units used the latest CPCE DevOps software, known as Increment 1, or Inc. 1. Using this version, Soldiers indicated the need for feeds from unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to enhance the commander’s command post purview, as well as the ability for the G6 to remove a CPCE user if needed.
“Once users identified the need for these improvements, the product office immediately addressed the UAS request and incorporated that change for future software improvements,” said Justin Seehusen, Assistant Product Manager for Tactical Mission Command.
According to Seehusen, the remaining requests underwent an assessment to determine the technical level of effort, traceability to requirements and the resources available for execution. The assessment identified a total of 10 categories or areas of improvement and determined it will take approximately eight weeks for software improvements, followed by a 30-day work period to undergo and series of test-fix-test and risk reduction events to determine whether those improvements are ready for operational use.
WfX 21.4 will be the first time these improvements are put through the paces. XVIII Airborne Corps users will execute their mission and provide additional feedback for future enhancements.
Following WfX 21.1, Soldiers with the 4th Infantry Division (4ID) at Fort Carson, Colorado and III Corps at Fort Hood, Texas took part in WfX 21.2 in November using the currently fielded Increment 0, or Inc. 0, CPCE software baseline. During the exercise, PdM TMC executed a “crawl, walk, run” phased approach with the units to allow users to gain maximum proficiency and provide feedback on the currently fielded CPCE baseline prior to moving on to the next software version.
“By using both Inc. 0 and Inc. 1 in the warfighter exercises, we’re proving out coalition interoperability and compatibility between two software versions,” said Chu-Quinn. “That’s a game-changer for the Army’s DevOps process and for CPCE development going forward.”
The 4th Infantry Division will be also the Division Headquarters unit for the JWA 21 CPCE operational assessment.
To date, Project Manager Mission Command has fielded CPCE software to 87 operational units and training organizations, which includes multiple Mission Training Complexes and centers of excellence (i.e. Cyber, Fires, and Aviation).
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.