FORT CAMPBELL, Kentucky (July 30, 2021) -- Over the past two weeks, Soldiers with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), or 3/101, have been conducting operational missions here to assess prototypes of the Army's new mobile and tailorable command post solution, known as the Command Post Integrated Infrastructure, or CPI2. The instrumented data and Soldier feedback collected from this Operational Assessment (OA) is helping shape what command post formations and their integrated suite of network capabilities will look like as the service continues modernizing towards Multi-Domain Operations and near-peer conflict.
CPI2, which aligns to the Army's Command Post (CP) Mobility/Survivability line of effort, integrates approved commercial-off-the-shelf technologies and currently developed program of record systems onto formation-appropriate platforms. The effort addresses capability modernization by collaborating with government and industry partners to design, prototype and integrate mobile, survivable and agile CP solutions, and then allowing Soldiers to evaluate the configurations early in the process.
The program is intended to replace the Standardized Integrated Command Post System (SICPS) in order to increase agility, survivability, and mobility; decrease emplacement and displacement times; reduce current footprint size; enable dispersed operations; and reduce electromagnetic signature.
"The TOC tents that we were used to in the past were a large footprint," said Staff Sgt. Michael Prater, an operations and plans Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) for 3/101 and battle NCO for the OA. "This is a more mobile, smaller, diverse footprint that creates a better way of getting into the fight and getting out of the fight."
Prater's focus, as the operational NCO, has been teaching the Soldiers, officers and other NCOs of his unit how to use, set up and tear down the equipment, focusing on increasing efficiency over time.
"This helps us shoot, move and communicate the way we need to," he added.
The program is being executed in two increments: Increment 0, which began last year, is the Soldier-driven experimentation phase and includes both industry- and government-led designs. Inc. 1, which will be informed by Inc. 0, is the production phase that will include additional vehicle platforms such as armored vehicles, the Joint Lightweight Tactical Vehicle and Medium Tactical Vehicle. A "best of breed" solution will be fielded to five BCTs under Inc. 0, beginning in FY23.
"The big idea is that the Army will take a lot of feedback throughout these operational assessments and will turn the two designs into a single solution with what we call a technical data package," said Brig. Gen. Rob Collins, Program Executive Officer for Command, Control, Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T), during OA activity here this week. "We're embracing a new way of how we modernize and how we acquire systems."
3/101 has been involved since the early stages of Inc. 0, providing feedback during user juries at Aberdeen Proving Ground and taking both industry and government-developed command post configurations into operational environments to inform initial CPI2 design alongside Army developers.
"The feedback from 3/101 is well-informed considering the amount of time they have had to train on and use CPI2," said Lt. Col. Jeremy Rogers, Product Manager for CPI2, adding that it was a lesson learned from an earlier OA in May during which the unit had a limited amount of "reps and sets" after being fielded the capability shortly before the assessment.
During this month's OA, 3/101 employed a unique command post construct aided by the flexibility of CPI2 platform configurations. During the assessment, the brigade's main CP consisted of several M1087 Mission Command Platforms (MCPs) and M1079 Command Post Support Vehicles (CPSVs), in addition to an M1148 ISO shelter, which when fielded will typically be used for Division Main command post operations. The CPSV serves as a communications node for brigade and above by hosting servers, radios, local area network equipment and secure wireless, while the MCP supports commanders and staff with digital workspace in vehicles and quick set-up and tear-down while on-the-move or at-the-halt.
Across these platforms, the Unified Voice Management System (UVMS) provides conference, access to tactical voice radio, Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) telephone and radio cross-banding and the Command Post Display System (CPDS) allows commanders to route battle management systems across various displays.
"CPI2 is a valuable asset for us because we're able to fall in on an experimental software location where we can try new ideas, and essentially game plan to create new ways for us to affect the fight for the brigade commander," said Spc. Lance Lee, brigade air defense valve management systems operator for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3/101.
Staff Sgt. Patrick Fuller, network operations NCOIC for 3/101, said that the modularity of CPI2 has allowed the unit to experiment with several configurations to best fit the needs of the mission.
"We're leveraging these missions to figure out how all of these communications assets work together to find what the dependencies are," he said. According to Fuller, the brigade has already recognized improvements to design that can further reduce the command post's footprint without sacrificing network capability or capacity, including trade-offs with select servers and satellite terminals.
A key aspect to transforming survivability on tomorrow's battlefield is to minimize command posts' electromagnetic signature (EMS). For this assessment, an initial EMS characterization was performed in the field ahead of the CP emplacement by 3/101. Once the unit established its CP, another EMS characterization was done to establish a baseline EMS for a brigade command post.
3/101 will take their fielded CPI2 equipment to a Joint Readiness Training Rotatio1148 ISO Shelter
September where they will further refine their deployment and use of these modernized command post capabilities.
Later this fall, the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado will be fielded CPI2 capability for its own Operational Assessment. The 4ID OA will focus on the Division Main CP operating out of M1148 ISO Shelters, and a Mobile Command Group consisting of three Commander's Vehicle Strykers.
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.