Warrant Officer expertise supports agile transformation of C2 communications

By Maureena Thompson, Army Futures CommandNovember 15, 2022

Kathleen Hicks, Deputy Secretary of Defense, speaks with Chief Warrant Officer 3 Wavell Williams Jr.
The Honorable Kathleen Hicks, Deputy Secretary of Defense, speaks with Chief Warrant Officer 3 Wavell E.L. Williams Jr., during her visit to Project Convergence 22, Oct. 17, Camp Pendleton, Calif. Warrant Officers from multiple fields are lending subject matter expertise and heightened knowledge of industry capabilities and best practices to inform and iteratively shape future force prototypes. “I get the extremely challenging and fun task of working with industry, with partners, academia sometimes, in trying to help solve Special Operations Forces-specific challenges,” Williams said. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class David Chapman) VIEW ORIGINAL

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Wavell E. L. Williams Jr. enlisted in the U.S. Army as a heavy-wheeled vehicle mechanic 22 years ago after looking for opportunities beyond those offered in his hometown of Port Charlotte, Florida.

“It was an older, retirement kind of town,” Williams said, adding that popular pastimes included “a lot of fishing.”

Williams wasn’t planning to attend college right after high school but also wasn’t sure exactly what he wanted to do instead. When an Army recruiter told Williams he could learn how to jump out of airplanes as a Soldier, something clicked. “Let me do that,” Williams remembers thinking.

Now the Systems Integration Officer with the U.S. Army Special Operations Command’s 112th Signal Battalion, 528th Sustainment Brigade, 1st Special Forces Command, Williams has served as a mechanic, IT specialist, Warrant Officer and technical advisor since joining the Army, completing assignments in North Carolina, Texas, Alabama and Germany.

He has also attained a level of subject matter expertise that enables him to contribute thoughtfully to Army and All-Service capability development efforts, including those being conducted by Special Operations Forces (SOF) through Project Convergence.

“Project Convergence has really helped us understand how SOF can integrate better into the Joint Force and really contribute to Combined Joint All-Domain Situational Awareness/Command and Control. We got lucky with our commanders and staff’s, battalion through Army Service Component Command, willingness to think and test outside the box. They gave us room to sprint,” Williams said.

Project Convergence 21 highlighted the need for more dispersed – and therefore less detectable and vulnerable – command and control (C2) nodes; as a result, service members at Project Convergence 22 experimented with use of the Modular Mission Environment (MME).

The MME harnesses a robust cross-classification, cloud-enabled tactical environment that supports Combined Joint All-Domain Situational Awareness/Command and Control, a deliberate pivot to data-centric operations, and delivers intelligence-driven analytics, allowing SOF to provide accurate and timely operational information to commanders.

Army SOF (ARSOF) are “traditionally dispersed worldwide with partners,” Williams explained.

“Our challenge to solve: how do we enable ARSOF to communicate securely within their environments, by, with and through partners, while also enabling integration into the Joint Common Operating Picture?”

The MME tackles this challenge by focusing on a data fabric methodology from various points globally to an environment within a secure, zero trust architecture. It was created by a team of Army Warrant Officers, Officers, Functional Area Officers, Noncommissioned Officers, Civilians, and contractors within the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

The MME is supported by advanced computing technologies, which allow for rapid information exchange even in communications-contested and denied, degraded, intermittent or limited environments. Included within this suite of technologies are devices that enable Soldiers to transmit and receive tactical data at various classification levels using individual communication tools. This technology allows for digital handover of information between a departing team and its replacement team, hastening the speed at which warfighters can understand and react to evolving situations on the ground.

Once information has been transferred through a transport-agnostic network to the MME, it can also be shared broadly with operational decision-makers via the Command Post Computing Environment (CPCE), another system being experimented with at Project Convergence 22. CPCE tactical data fabric enhances situational understanding, supports faster decision-making and enables sensor-to-shooter linkages by ingesting data from multiple sources and All-Service systems, from the enterprise to the tactical edge.

“Being able to see and have situational understanding of the whole picture, start to finish, is critical to us,” Williams said, adding that the ability to integrate seamlessly into All-Service and Multinational C2 and communication networks is essential for maintaining strategic advantages in both competition and conflict.

Assessing how new communications technology performs requires in-depth knowledge of IT systems, which Williams and his Warrant Officer colleagues – working alongside other Soldiers and industry partners with tailored expertise – are supplying was an integral element of Project Convergence 22 experimentation.

“When I became a Warrant Officer, I always wanted to make sure that I was technically relevant and provided sound advice and counsel,” Williams said. “The knowledge that’s acquired in making sure the commander is well-informed is one of the main tenets of what we do, the honest brokers.”

He added that Warrant Officers are the systems integrators and subject matter experts within their designated warfighting function – a dynamic and rewarding role that provides extensive insight into command challenges and solutions.

“I can absolutely tell you, without a second thought, that Warrant Officers, when leveraged properly, can be incredible assets to solve problems many aren’t aware of yet,” Williams said.