By Mr. Kris Osborn, ASA(ALT) June 28, 2012
(Washington, D.C.) -- U.S. Army leaders said plans are underway to deliver
eight Brigade Combat Teams (BCT) of integrated, capability-enhancing
networking technologies beginning in October, speaking to reporters June
28 at a Pentagon event.
The new BCTs are part of what the Army calls Capability Set 13, an
integrated set of networking technologies engineered to bring unprecedented
new capabilities to the force such as the ability to conduct Mission Command
operations while on the move in vehicles and connect the individual
dismounted Soldier to a broader communications network, said Brig. Gen. John
Morrison, Director, G3/5/7 LandWarNet, Mission Command.
Two of the 8 Capability Set 13 sets of networking gear are slated to field
with the Army's 10th Mountain Division as part of the culmination of the services Capability Set
management approach to modernization. This approach is a key element of
what the Army calls the "Agile Process," a method of identifying, developing
and deploying new systems and technology in a manner that emphasizes
evaluation and integration prior to deployment, interoperability and
maximum utility to the Soldier.
The ongoing series of Network Integration Evaluations (NIE) are an essential
element of the Agile Process and the developmental trajectory of CS 13. They
involve 3,800-Soldier strong exercises in which emerging systems and
solutions are placed in the hands of Soldiers for evaluation in a
combat-like environment at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. These NIEs,
underway for the last year and a half, help refine and operationally
validate requirements, harness Soldier feedback to determine what works and
what doesn't, and help pave the way forward regarding how to acquire and
integrate new capability.
"18 months ago, we fundamentally changed the way we test, evaluate and field
technology and fundamentally changed the way we do business. Capability Set
management allows us to buy what we need when we need it and spiral in the
latest capability," said Morrison.
In total, there are at least 15 different systems which make up Capability
Set 13, including hand-held radios, mobile satellite communications gear and
smart-phone like hand-held devices for individual Soldiers, among other
things, Morrison explained. Overall, CS 13 capabilities provide solutions
to as many as ten Operational Needs Statements from theater wherein
battlefield Commanders express need for a particular technical capability
able to perform certain key, identified functions.
"Capability Set management is about brining technologies together as a
single capability. As we field CS 13, units will know that what they are
getting has been brought together into one synchronized unit," said Col. (P)
Dan Hughes, Director of System of Systems Integration Directorate, ASA ALT.
"Synchronized fielding is a sea change from what we have done in the past.
We find out what works at the NIEs and it saves us integration time
Also, as part of this synchronized fielding effort, the Army has recently
stood up a new C4ISR laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md., designed
to evaluate networking technologies and ensure maximum integration and
interoperability, said Hughes.
Also, integrating new solutions through the NIE process winds up informing
and, in some cases, creating important Tactics Techniques and Procedures
(TTP), said Brig. Gen. Randal Dragon, Commanding General, Brigade
Modernization Command, TRADOC.
Creating what the Army calls an Objective Network Baseline is fundamental to
this approach; existing and emerging technologies are developed according to
a common set of established technical standards designed to ensure that
future capabilities properly integrate with one another and with existing
systems, Hughes said.
"If I find an issue with the network, I can run through it in real time in
the laboratory," he added.
Leveraging industry innovation and effectively communicating with industry
participants in the NIEs are essential elements of the Agile Process, Hughes
For example, blending the latest commercial-off-the-shelf technologies with
existing programs of record proved extremely worthwhile with the Nett
Warrior program, a key component of CS 13, Hughes and Morrison said.
Nett Warrior is a Nett Warrior is a Soldier worn dismounted mission command
system that provides unprecedented command and control and situation
awareness capability that supports the mission of the dismounted combat
Leader. Nett Warrior includes a smart-phone-like electronic display device
that graphically shows Soldiers' locations on a digital map that can be
shared on the Army network. Nett Warrior also uses a Joint Tactical Radio
System (JTRS) hand-held, single-channel Rifleman Radio. Each BCT with CS 13
will consist of about 450 Nett Warrior devices.
Nett Warrior not only connects dismounted units on patrol with one another
and higher headquarters through the use of digital map displays and mobile,
hand-held technology, but it also gives dismounted units the ability to
connect to a database called Tactical Intelligence Ground Reporting (TIGR)
system, Hughes and Morrison explained.
The NIE process is not only designed to improves and streamline acquisition,
but to do so in a manner that saves money for the Army and the taxpayer,
Blending the latest COTs hand-held, smart-phone like technology with the
Nett Warrior program resulted in substantial weight reduction and as much as
$800 million in cost savings, Morrison explained.
Each BCT with CS 13 will also be outfitted with Warfighter Information
Network- Tactical Inc. 2, a mobile radio and Satcom network that allows
Commanders to access a full suite of Mission Command capabilities while on
patrol in vehicles. About 50 vehicles in each BCT with CS 13 will be
configured with WIN-T Inc. 2, Army officials said.
With WIN-T Inc. 2, Commanders will not have to remain in a static location
such as a Tactical Operations Center (TOC) in order to perform key Mission
Command activities. Also, WIN-T Inc. 2 provides a self-healing network,
meaning communications can quickly switch from high bandwidth radio,
line-of-sight radio connections to mobile Satellite links, as needed. WIN-T
Inc. 2, or initial on-the-move capability, recently completed its Initial
Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) at the NIE 12.2.
Overall, the Capability Set management approach , and the NIE process, is
slated to continue into the future, both expanding and spiraling in new
capabilities as they become available. The Army is already working on
refining the materiel build necessary to deliver the next iteration of
networking capability, CS 14.