The U.S. Army has formally unveiled its Common Operating Environment (COE)
Implementation Plan, an effort consisting of an Army's plan to modernize
equipment and weapons systems around a common set of IT standards and
architecture as it develops a truly networked force.

The goal of COE is to reduce the development timeline,
lower development cost, and shorten the time required to integrate and
certify systems. We will accomplish this by transitioning to an approved
set of standards, processes and products. The COE implementation provides
the detailed direction to industry partners and Army program managers to
guide that transition. This will allow the Army to more quickly and
efficiently develop and field interoperable software based capability to our

The plan will help establish, and make public, Army technical standards,
processes and practices which any vendor can understand, internalize and
build towards. The COE Implementation Plan will remain a living artifact and
be updated as the Army continues to evolve its network standards and
synchronized fielding methods. The Army will continuously seek industry
input as COE implementation is executed.

Without sacrificing warfighter functionality and data security, the COE will
promote open systems, integrated architectures and common standards that
maximize interoperability and integration between applications and ease the
challenge of adding new functionality.

The COE Implementation Plan is an important step in realizing strategic
software reuse across the Army. The COE Implementation plan promotes the
alignment of Army programs into six Computing Environments (CE) based on
mission and environment (Size, weight, power, and bandwidth) limitations.
Each CE will be base lined on a common foundation (hardware and software) to
facilitate reuse of common components. Each CE will be designed to
interoperate with the others, thus forming the COE. The interface between
CEs will be enabled through the establishment of Control Points i.e. tightly
controlled technical specifications that act as the blueprint for how data
will be exchanged between CEs. Implementation will be in a phased approach
expected to be executed over the next several years.

"The Army COE Implementation Plan is based on the Guidance for 'End State'
Army Enterprise Network Architecture developed by the Army's Chief
Information Officer (CIO) G6. The document contains approved technologies,
products and standards. The G6 vision is grounded in the idea that
technologies and programs can transition to this common computing
environment, making it easier to leverage commercial innovation and
synchronize emerging technologies with existing systems", said Mr.Terry
Edwards, Director of ASA (ALT) s Office of the Chief Systems Engineer.

"To prevent starting from scratch, we assessed the systems in each CE and
identified if there was one we could use as a single foundation, based on
software architecture, operating systems, services, data, and interfaces in
order to establish the foundations to build on," said Ms. Monica
Farah-Stapleton, the ASA(ALT) OCSE lead for COE.

"Transitioning to the COE in accordance with the Implementation Plan
represents a significant cultural shift in the way the Army will acquire and
develop systems. The Plan is designed to tell industry upfront and
with certainty the parameters within which Army applications and
foundational software must fit. The plan is to establish an Ecosystem for
each of the CE's so that developers have access to architectures,
foundational products, SDK's and certification environments required for
applications," Edwards explained.

A few of the many challenges we must address include transitioning from a
systems focused architecture to a software applications focus; effectively
reusing software and architectures; creating a circumstance wherein Programs
of Record can integrate applications built by others; aligning requirements
to the various CEs; establishing a process to sunset PORs that are not
required; and building the correct cost models.

"Our strategy for implementing this COE vision is transformational in that
it will change how we define requirements, resource, acquire, test and
deliver capability to the Warfighter. Army acquisition is becoming much more
recognizing the need to adapt to rapidly evolving technology. A key step in
that process is defining the
common technical standards establishing a foundation for the Army, partnered
with industry, to modernize more quickly and efficiently while providing
Warfighters with interoperability as we move toward a fully networked Army,"
said Ms. Heidi Shyu, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army - Acquisition,
and Technology (ASA ALT).

The COE Implementation Plan can be found: