By Jacqueline M. HamesOctober 12, 2011
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 12, 2011) -- "We're executing our strategy. We're not developing it. We're not thinking about it. We are executing the Army's network modernization strategy as it relates to mission command," said Col. John Morrison, G-3/5/7 director, LandWarNet/Battle Command.
The Army is working to establish a common operating environment for the network, supported by network integration evaluations and capability set management, or CSM, that will be fully integrated and will support the Soldier in real-time, officials in the "LandWarNet: Powering America's Army" forum explained Tuesday at the Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C.
"We're fundamentally changing the way that we're going to evaluate, test and deliver network capability. It's really that simple," Morrison added.
The forum leader, Chief Information Officer/G-6 Lt. Gen. Susan. S. Lawrence, explained that once a trusted, reliable network is achieved, there could be fewer boots on the ground to accomplish the mission, and take Soldiers out of harm's way. "That is the power of what it is that we're going to be able to deliver in this capability," she said.
The common operating environment, or COE, is a commercially-based set of computing technologies and standards the network itself and all applications and systems on the network are required to meet, according to the LandWarNet, or LWN, information packet. The COE is supported by capability set management, which evaluates the current operational environment and designs equipment and systems to meet requirements over a two-year period before fielding the set throughout the combat formation. The CSM will also be a part of the Army Force Generation requirements.
CSM is the way the Army will deploy integrated products, realigning investments to take advantage of commercial-off-the-shelf, or COTS, items and leveraging industry.
"We will field eight IBCTs (Infantry Brigade Combat Teams) as a part of capability set 13. We'll do 10 brigades -- six infantry, two heavy, and two Strykers -- as a part of capability set 14," Morrison said.
However, in order for COTS items to be effective, they must be compliant with the COE. Lawrence emphasized that if organizations want to be connected to the network, they must meet the Army's technical standards.
The capability sets are evaluated twice prior to fielding during network integration evaluations, or NIEs, which ensure functionality, interoperability and network compliance.
"If you look at the value of the NIE for the Army, it's really about us getting our hands around the requirements, how to resource them, and then how to make it work in an operationally relevant environment," said Lt. Gen. William Phillips, principal military deputy for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, and director, Army Acquisition Corps. The NIEs allow the Army to better field systems in a way Soldiers can use them to fight on the field today, tomorrow, and in the future, he added.
Most importantly, the goal of the COE and its supporting features is to keep the burden of integration on the developers at home, and not the Soldiers downrange.
"We've really redefined incremental modernization," Morrison said. Through fielding modernizations as needed, by a certain point in time, the Army can keep the best capabilities in the hands of the Soldiers.
"It really is buying what we need, when we need it, for those operational forces that need it. It's a fundamental shift in how we're doing business," he explained.