FORT IRWIN, California (May 10, 2021) -- Soldiers from the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (11th ACR) at the National Training Center are employing the next-generation of mission command software as part of their Developmental Operations (DevOps) Partnership with Program Manager Mission Command (PM MC), Program Executive Office – Command, Control, Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T).
This next-generation software, Mounted Mission Command-Software (MMC-S), is the Army’s initiative to provide simple and intuitive Mission Command on-the-Move (MCotM) and situational awareness down to the platoon level by delivering an integrated solution to end-users and providing an extensible Software Development Kit (SDK) for third-party Warfighting Function (WfF) convergence onto the secure, hardened run-time Mounted Computing Environment (MCE). MMC-S is targeted to replace the Joint Battle Command-Platform (JBC-P) software beginning in late 2023.
“11th ACR employs MMC-S throughout their formation during every training rotation at NTC, including Regimental Blackhorse Stakes exercises, and provides critical feedback to PM Mission Command that directly influences capability development efforts and design refinements to ensure we deliver the best capabilities to our Warfighters,” said Maj. Chad Frizzell, Assistant Product Manager for MMC-S, assigned to PM MC.
According to Maj. Sylvester Azap, Regimental S-6 for the 11th ACR, the unit has integrated MMC-S applications and enhanced service infrastructure to enable OPFOR situational maneuver, such as position location, situational awareness, and Common Operating Picture, chat, instant messages, overlays, and more.
“As a result of these simplified services, our on-the-move platforms and command posts have a fully compatible, simplified, and seamless framework with less complexity that facilitates our PACE (primary, alternate, contingency, and emergency) communications plan for our mounted and dismounted Soldiers’ speed and reach," said Azap.
At the core of MCE, MMC-S leverages the proven, Army investment – the JBC-P hardware and network – and will be deployed as a simple software-only upgrade to replace JBC-P software. MMC-S will exploit the transport and hardware capability-maturation, continuously enhancing capabilities, security, and network resiliency that outpaces adversarial countermeasures and threats as the service continues modernizing tactical network technologies through iterative Capability Sets (CS).
The DevOps partnership between PM MC and the 11th ACR is critical as MMC-S executes activities leading to a Limited Deployment Decision on the first iteration of Software in 4QFY22. MMC-S will go through a Limited User Test and CS23 Operational Demonstration in 3QFY22 in order to equip the Army’s CS23 target unit, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, beginning in 1QFY23. MMC-S will then shift development focus to integrated platforms – Strykers, Abrams and others – for the next iteration of software targeted for CS25 fielding.
To achieve these goals, MMC-S executes an agile software development process that allows for the deployment of new capabilities to the Operational Force approximately every 12 months. Throughout the development of each software iteration, DevOps partnerships enable tailor-made refinements based on Soldier feedback. During the Blackhorse Stakes Regimental Training, 11th ACR Soldiers leveraged MMC-S while conducting troop leading procedures, maneuver lanes, drivers' training, logistical resupply, communication at echelon, combat-lifesaver training, and medical evacuation training. Feedback from these efforts results in the delivery of fine-tuned capabilities Soldiers require for operational use.
“We’re using MMC-S from the Platoon Sergeant level up to Squadron Commanders to populate the COP, share our left and right limits, and increase understanding of the battlespace,” said Cpt. Jonathan DiBianca, E Troop Commander, 2nd Squadron, 11th ACR. “[DevOps] is great, especially in the crawl stage of using MMC-S where we can work out the kinks before rolling this out to a wider audience. Being able to work one-on-one with the program office and the developers to take what works and refine what doesn’t, helps create a system that modernizes us across the force and helps us remain at the tip of the spear.”
One of the most touted enhancements of MMC-S as compared to JBC-P is the graphical user interface. As an Android-based software program, MMC-S leverages the Android Tactical Assault Kit (ATAK), which provides a common look and feel to something Soldiers already use every single day: a cell phone.
“Technology plays a big role in today’s day and age. We all have a cell phone in our pocket. Whether it’s an iPhone or Android, they all kind of have the same premise,” said DiBianca. “Having young Leaders coming out of basic training that are able to utilize their understanding of a cell phone and effectively employ MMC-S is incredibly valuable and goes a long way in maximizing our effectiveness using this capability.”
Perhaps even more critical is an improvement below the surface of the software’s upgraded look and feel. In technical terms, Nett Warrior, the Handheld Computing Environment (HHCE), primarily communicates using Cursor-on-Target and protobuf message formats while other tactical Army systems, including Command Post Computing Environment (CPCE), Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS), and systems on the Blue Force Tracker (BFT) network, interoperate using Variable Message Format (VMF). MMC-S digests both CoT and VMF, and is being built to translate and communicate using either format to link the HHCE to CPCE, which is something that JBC-P software is not able to do.
“MMC-S is critical to modernizing the force. It will serve as the convergence space to meet the Army’s requirement to host WfF capability in order to deliver a fully-integrated COP – something that JBC-P falls short on,” said Frizzell. “The bottom line is that MMC-S is the bridge between all three computing environments. It increases interoperability between CPCE and Nett Warrior, which is essential to generating an integrated COP.”
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.