Army communications and medical communities work toward a sustainable path

By Troy SaundersNovember 27, 2023

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command hosted its first ever C5ISR-M Readiness Summit at APG’s Mallette Training Facility Oct. 25 - 26, 2023. CECOM hosted the predecessing inaugural C5ISR Readiness Summit in 2022. The difference in this year’s C5ISR-M Readiness Summit is that it integrates a medical-component focus, represented by the “M” in C5ISR-M.

Traditionally, C5ISR is an acronym used primarily in the military and defense industry space representing “Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance.”

In the military, Command and Control is an important process used by leaders to plan, direct, coordinate, and control friendly forces and assets to ensure unit safety and successful mission accomplishment. To enable Command and Control, warfighters need equipment that allows them to achieve ultimate situational awareness and maintain a technological advantage on the modern battlefield. The addition of Communications, Computers, Cyber, Surveillance and Reconnaissance resources extends the overall Command and Control framework. This means military leaders and their personnel have access to reliable and secure communications and intelligence which aid them in their overall mission.

Specifically for the U.S. Army, the purpose of C5ISR technologies is to “enable information dominance and decisive lethality for the networked Soldier.” These technologies can range from radios, computer workstations and smartphones, to night vision and threat-sensing radars sensors. These combined networked solutions pooled together are what make up a C5ISR “weapons system”.

The C5ISR system and the equipment, both hardware and software, that make up the system must be reliable in deployed environments, robust to withstand attack, flexible to adapt as the mission evolves, interoperable to support coalition activities, and easy enough for Soldiers to use on the front lines of war.

With a constantly evolving geopolitical landscape amongst recent heightened partner nation security concerns, modern multi-domain operations require a high level of coordination and integration among different military units and agencies. All work on synchronizing military capabilities overall goal is to gain a decisive advantage over the adversary. Army leaders have realized that a large portion of that decisive advantage is dependent on medical readiness.

“We need our Soldiers to know we are delivering quality health care and meeting the requirement to support the force, whether in peacetime or in combat,” Col. Pete Markot, Strategic Initiatives Group (SIG) director U.S. Army Medical Logistics Command, said.

In turn, Army medical readiness and deployability remains an enduring priority in preparing for Large Scale Combat Operations (LSCO) and Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) now and ISO Army 2030. Army medical readiness ensures that Soldiers are able to maintain lethality and are ready when called upon to fight and win our nation’s wars.

“One of our core functions of AMLC is to deliver expert-level technical support to set and sustain our allied operational medical equipment capability for commanders in conflict,” Markot said. “We’re here [at the summit] to improve how we sustain materiel readiness, resolve logistic challenges, provide training oversight, and analyze trends from current operations.”

Historically, CECOM’s mission has been to deliver integrated C5ISR weapon systems, business systems, and medical sustainment to enable full spectrum combat operations at the point of need.

Maj. Gen. Robert L. Edmonson II, commanding general of CECOM and senior commander of APG, welcomed guests to the summit before describing the importance of synchronizing to deliver effective precision sustainment to the warfighter.

“Welcome to APG,” Edmonson II exclaimed. “It’s so important to be here because the fact is, our Army is changing. That means it’s crucial we synchronize C5ISR efforts at multiple levels in support of an Army that’s changing. “

Edmonson spoke on the importance of change and how that aspect of our Army is linked to our success now and in the future.

“Change is a variable that makes this Army so much more powerful than other armies around the world,” exclaimed Edmonson. “We are modernizing and evolving in an effort to deliver the Army of 2030, and in route to the Army of 2040. We are here this week to gain a better understanding of the Army we need right now and in the future. It’s up to all of us here to synchronize, on behalf of the warfighter.”

Edmonson discussed the critical value of including medical preparedness in this year’s sync.

“You can’t forget about the M in C5ISR-M,” Edmonson stated. “You cannot fire and forget medical capabilities and believe it will simply be there in the long haul, unless people like you all synchronize efforts.”

This year’s C5ISR-M Readiness Summit provided Army communications and medical enterprise stakeholders a better understanding of the past, current, and projected readiness metrics which influence the acquisition, maintenance, and sustainment of C5ISR and medical systems in support of the warfighter. While many of the engagements and discussions were livestreamed, this event was not open to the general public.

This summit hosted a daily average of 126 onsite attendees and 65 virtual attendees, representing commands and organizations across the Army Enterprise.

Edmonson noted the importance of the specific audience in attendance, as well as provide context into current operational insights.

“You all here have a pulse on what’s happening out in the field today and tomorrow,” he said. “A pulse on all parts of C5ISR, because of our inherent relationships with each other. We understand the relationship of healthy tension between modernization and readiness.”

Edmonson stressed the realizations concerning current military operations and how the Army can improve based off this.

“We’ve learned so much over the last year,” he said. “We’ve learned how to leverage; based on lessons learned from partner nations overseas. There’s no reason why we can’t bring those lessons learned into the U.S. Army. As we deliver capabilities and sustainment, we are modernizing and delivering readiness at different rates; we need to sync to work through this challenge.”

The two-day summit hosted military and civilians at the Colonel/GS-15 level, or equivalent, from throughout the Army. The target audiences were unit Chiefs-of-Staff as well as Program Executive Offices and Program Managers, although it was also livestreamed for any workforce audience who was interested.

With 19 briefings by CECOM major subordinate commands, as well as Program Executive Office Command Control Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T), Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) C5ISR Center, Network Cross Functional Team (N-CFT), and United States Army Combined Arms Support Command (CASCOM), the summit was a unique opportunity to present and address readiness concerns throughout the lifecycle of a C5ISR product.

Col. Joel Feltz, CECOM G3/5 Chief Operations Division, said the intent of the summit was to synchronize the way CECOM helps other units in the C5ISR-M community maintain readiness.

Throughout the summit, Feltz reminded participants the true motivation behind their efforts.

“It’s all about how we support our warfighters,” Feltz exclaimed. “How we get the best support for them. And we have the right people to do that here in this room.”

Feltz said that the entire CECOM team learned a lot from last year’s inaugural summit, and applied those lessons-learned to make this year’s summit an exceptional one.

“Maj. Gen. Edmonson absolutely cares about the conversations we’re having over these next couple of days,” Feltz said. “We have a lot of good participants here, and I love doing this event because this lays out for [the next fiscal year] that we all have a shared understanding.”

Edmonson highlighted the importance of having these conversations about sustainment and its challenges.

“Sustainment of weapons and readiness leads to getting the warfighters what they need, when they need it the most,” he said. “Hold me accountable. There are options for resolving problems, so hold us accountable so that we can deliver on what we’ve discussed here.”

One of the highlights from this year’s summit was the numerous breakout sessions, which provided the participants with an opportunity to have meaningful face-to-face conversations on C5ISR-M capabilities and support.

Everything from software support under continuous integration/continuous development, to medical supply chain resiliency and predictive logistics were discussed as topics during these breakout sessions throughout the summit.

Day 1 panels and breakout sessions addressed key initiatives supporting medical logistics, the organic industrial base, C5ISR system sustainment, and overall modernization. There were significant conversations centered on ensuring cross-communication of system usage and fault trends, Soldier proficiency, and the pros and cons of Contractor Logistics Support (CLS).

The second day of the summit focused on technical-based discussions on the satellite communications (SATCOM) portfolio, integrated tactical network (ITN), as well as CASCOM’s briefing “Ensuring a Trained and Ready Force.” Medical readiness was incorporated into all of the discussions and panels throughout both days of the summit.

Edmonson concluded the summit by addressing guests during the closing ceremony.

The general said he hoped that guests would come away from the summit with more knowledge and truly understand the importance of the discussions that were held during the summit.

Edmonson II also presented coins to four members of the CECOM G 3/5 team for their hard work and dedication in hosting this year’s summit.

With the success of this year’s inaugural C5ISR-M Readiness Summit, look for next year’s C5ISR-M Readiness Summit to be even more wide-reaching and impactful.

The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, CECOM, a subordinate of the U.S. Army Materiel Command and headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, delivers integrated C5ISR-M weapon systems, business systems, and medical sustainment to enable full spectrum combat operations at the point of need.