• USAASC Takes Home Top Prizes in Armywide Public Affairs Competition

    Army AL&T

    Tara Clements

     

    FORT BELVOIR, Va. — The U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center (USAASC) took first place honors in two categories of the 2012 Keith L. Ware Public Affairs Competition, and secured second place in another honoring excellence in Army public affairs.

    Army AL&T magazine was named the Army’s best magazine-format publication and the magazine’s senior editor, Margaret Roth, won first prize for best news feature article (“Building a Better Rotorcraft,” April-June 2012 issue, page 150). Inside STRI, the premier newsletter for Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI), placed second in the newsletter/field newspaper category.

    “We have an impressive level of talent in our public affairs community, evident by the quality of the 588 total individual entries submitted this year. Their outstanding efforts helped their commanders and supervisors tell the Army story,” said Brig. Gen. Gary J. Volesky, Chief of Army Public Affairs in his email announcing the results.

    The Maj. Gen. Keith L. Ware Annual Public Affairs competition recognizes the best achievements in telling the Army story. First-place winners go on to compete in the Department of Defense’s Thomas Jefferson Awards, which honor the best work in public affairs across DOD.

    “To place in a Keith L. Ware completion category, much less win, is quite an achievement,” said Nelson McCouch, Army AL&T magazine editor-in-chief and chief of communications for USAASC. “These awards validate the professionalism of the various writers, editors and graphics professionals it takes to produce a quality product, and that we’re delivering the best Army acquisition news and information possible to our audience.”

    In early February, USAASC, a Direct Reporting Unit (DRU) of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, conducted its first-ever review board of all entries submitting its first-place winners to compete in the Keith L. Ware Annual Public Affairs competition.

    “I’m very proud of all the efforts across the DRU to communicate the contributions of the Army acquisition community. Army AL&T and PEO STRI’s awards reflect those efforts and demonstrates our effectiveness,” said McCouch. “I look forward to hosting next year’s DRU-level competition and hope to receive even more submissions to compete at the Department of the Army level.”

    To view the electronic edition of Army AL&T Magazine, visit http://armyalt.va.newsmemory.com/.


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  • Acquisition Education and Training Corner

    Education and Training Opportunities

    Even in the face of significant fiscal constraints, our acquisition workforce has statutory requirements to meet. Therefore, we will still be offering many of our acquisition education, training, and experience opportunities. On March 13, 2013, the Hon. Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defense, published a memorandum, Continuation of Centrally Funded Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund Initiatives, wherein he states we “must continue acquisition workforce initiatives centrally funded by…the DAWDF [Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund]. These initiatives include…DAWDF initiatives to bolster and sustain the quality of the acquisition workforce. Quality initiatives include training, development, recruitment, and retention initiatives.”

    Listed below are three programs that will continue to be offered.

    Defense Acquisition University – Senior Service College Fellowship (DAU-SSCF)
    The 2013-2014 announcement is open through April 1, 2013 to all eligible personnel in GS-14 and GS-15 or equivalent broadband/pay band equivalent positions who have met their current position certification requirements. This program has recently been endorsed as an Army equivalent Senior Service College by the United States Army War College. For more information, visit http://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/programs/defense-acquisition-university-senior-service-college/. This program, located in Aberdeen, Md.; Huntsville, Ala.; and Warren, Mich. provides a great opportunity for our civilians to attend a SSCF within their local commuting area.

    Naval Post Graduate School – Masters of Science in Program Management
    The announcement will be open through May 13, 2013 to all eligible personnel in GS-11 through GS-15 or broadband/pay band equivalent positions who have met their current position certification requirement. While it is not in Monterey, Calif., this distance learning program will provide required DAU training in program management (as well as other career field courses) to graduate with a master’s. For more information, go to: http://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/programs/naval-postgraduate-school-master-of-science-in-program-management/.

    Excellence in Government Fellowship (EIGF)
    The announcement will be open from June 13 – July 15, 2013 to all eligible personnel in GS-13 – GS-15 or broadband/pay band equivalent positions who have met their current position certification requirement. EIGF offers our senior acquisition workforce members the opportunity to network and team with fellow senior leaders from across the government. This program focuses on benchmarking best practices and then returning to your organization to implement. For more information, go to: http://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/programs/excellence-in-government-fellows-program/.

    Defense Acquisition University (DAU) Training

    Training required for Army acquisition workforce members is a mission critical activity and is exempt from recent cuts stated in a memo from Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Ashton Carter, dated Jan 10, 2013. DAU travel for required Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA) certification courses is centrally funded by DAU through the USAASC. Some acquisition workforce members’ travel for DAU acquisition certification training is being cancelled by organizations due to their current interpretation of their budget execution mitigation efforts. The attached memo outlines that DAU central funds is entirely separate from budgetary actions within a service or agency to mitigate budget execution issues in FY13. Army acquisition students approved to use DAU central funds to attend training shall not cancel training due to budget constraints. Cancellation requests (from students approved for central travel funds) less than 30 days from class start or reservation cut-off date (with funding constraint as a reason), will be denied. Students shall be deemed a ”no show” if they do not attend the scheduled training.

    USAASC will continue to centrally fund cost effective locations selected by the student. Commands and supervisors should continue to support and send their employees to required DAWIA training. To view DAU Travel Status memo, please go to: http://asc.army.mil/web/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/DAU-Travel-Status-Memo-2013.pdf.

    Furlough Impact
    DAU plans to support the teaching schedule under furlough conditions. Students may view DAU’s tentative furlough plan at https://atrrs.army.mil/channels/aitas/appdefault.asp.

    Note: This plan is not final. Once the plan is formalized, DAU will provide details to the DACM offices, post to the DAU website, and send notices to the students. Students attending a DAU course will assume the furlough schedule of DAU and not their home organization for the duration of their DAU training.

    FY14 Schedule
    On Thursday, May 16, 2013, the FY14 schedule will be available for students to apply for classes. Students should continue to apply for FY13 courses available on the schedule. Planning and applying early will afford students better opportunity in obtaining a class in the timeframe requested. Encourage your supervisor to approve your training request as soon as you apply. Students should view the DAU I-catalog at http://icatalog.dau.mil to ensure they meet the prerequisite(s), prior to applying to a DAU course. A weekly low fill listing posted weekly at http://icatalog.dau.mil/onlinecatalog/tabnav.aspx to provide students the opportunity to attend classes coming up in the next 60 days. Low fill classes within 60 days from the start date of the class are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

    Application Process
    Applications cannot be processed by the Army registrar office until the training has approved by the supervisor. It is also imperative the student and supervisor email address is provided correctly in the Army Training Requirements and Resources (ATRRS) Internet Training Application System (AITAS) student profile. Please apply at https://www.atrrs.army.mil/channels/aitas. For more information on DAU training including systematic instructions, training priority definition or FAQs, please go to: http://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/programs/defense-acquisition-university-training/faqs/. Once you receive a confirmed reservation in the requested class, ensure you attend the class as scheduled. Cancellation request for a confirmed reservation must be submitted at least 30 calendar days before the class starts or by the reservation cutoff date, whichever is earlier, to avoid a no show.

    Equivalencies
    DAU provides a list of equivalencies (http://icatalog.dau.mil/appg.aspx) for all courses delivered by DAU and/or predecessor courses, which are considered acceptable towards meeting current acquisition career field certification requirements. To document your approved equivalency, open a helpdesk ticket at: https://rda.altess.army.mil/camp/index.cfm?fuseaction=support.helpRequest and request your ACRB be updated to reflect DAU equivalent course(s) completion.

    Course Management
    DAU course management has a new process to allow higher priority, specifically priority 1, student’s first preference in the DAU resident courses. As result, students in priority 2 through 5 will be waitlisted for classes showing available seats. When a student is placed in a wait status, they will roll into a reservation 65 days prior to the class start date if a priority 1 does not encumber a seat. They could still be bumped—up to five business days prior to class reservation cut-off date or start date, whichever is higher—if a higher priority student has applied within the 65 days. The new process minimizes bumping and allows priority 1s to see which courses actually have seats available for them to obtain their required position

    Understanding Industry (Business Acumen) – ACQ 315 is a new 4.5-day course in development by DAU. The course covers a wide range of business knowledge competencies including industry orientation, organization, cost and financial planning, business strategy/development, supplier management, incentives and negotiating strategies. Students will learn business skills on aligning company strategies, finances, and operations that motivate company decisions, gain fair and reasonable profits, while providing best taxpayer value to the government on defense products. The course is presented from an industry perspective. The target audience is DAWIA, Level III-certified acquisition personnel across all DAWIA career fields. DAU will pilot the course from June 24 through 28, 2013 in Huntsville Ala. The course is available starting 4th quarter FY13. Interested Army students may register for the offerings in AITAS: https://www.atrrs.army.mil/channels/aitas/.


     
     
     
     
     
     


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  • Nominations now open for 37th Army Acquisition Annual Awards

    Teresa Mikulsky Purcell

    FT. BELVOIR, Va. — Nominations for individuals and teams are now being accepted for the U.S. Army Acquisition Annual Awards now through June 21. This year marks the 37th anniversary of the awards, which honor and recognize excellence among those military and civilian members of the Army Acquisition Workforce who go above and beyond what is expected to provide Soldiers with the weapons and equipment they need to execute decisive, full-spectrum operations in support of their missions.

    “These awards allow us the opportunity to highlight our many successes,” said the Honorable Heidi Shyu, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology. “Our acquisition professionals continue to provide needed capabilities at best value to the Soldier in the field, consistent with the Department’s Better Buying Power initiative. They balance affordability with requirements for agile, deployable and technologically sophisticated equipment.”

    This year’s theme is “Recognizing Acquisition Excellence.” All managers are encouraged to submit nominations for the awards.

    “These awards are the most prestigious in our field. They represent the professionalism, dedication and innovation across our acquisition community,” said Shyu. “Thanks to the determined support and hard work of our acquisition professionals, our Army remains the best-trained, best-equipped fighting force in the world.”

    The former Department of the Army Materiel Development and Readiness Command (now known as the Army Materiel Command) established the first acquisition award in November 1975. The original award, called the Annual Award for Project Management, was the predecessor to the Project and Product Manager Award described below. The first recipient was Maj. Gen. Robert J. Baer, who received the recognition in the fall of 1976.

    Today, the Army Acquisition Annual Awards are comprised of a total of 11 awards in the following five categories:

    • The Army Acquisition Excellence (AAE) Awards recognize Army acquisition workforce individuals and teams whose performance and contributions set them apart from their peers. The awards directly reflect outstanding achievements in support of Soldiers and the Army’s Business Transformation efforts. The AAE awards include the Individual Sustained Achievement Award and three team awards, titled Equipping and Sustaining Our Soldier’s Systems, Information Enabled Army, and Transforming the Way We Do Business.
      Submittal timeline: March 6 – May 3.
    • The Secretary of the Army Award for Project and Product Manager (PM) and Acquisition Director of the Year applaud the PM and acquisition director whose outstanding contributions and achievements merit special recognition. Submittal timeline: March 13 – May 10.
    • The ASA(ALT) Contracting Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) Award for Contracting Excellence applauds the ASA(ALT) Contracting NCO whose outstanding contributions and achievements merit special recognition.
      Submittal timeline: April 11 – June 6.
    • The Director, Acquisition Career Management Award recognizes an acquisition workforce member who has demonstrated exemplary performance and has made significant, long-lasting contributions to the Army Acquisition Corps over the course of his or her career, either as a federal government employee or serving in the military. Submittal timeline: May 1 – June 21.
    • The Army Life Cycle Logistician of the Year Award recognizes a military or civilian logistician who has made significant contributions to the field of life-cycle logistics as well as achievements in improving the total life-cycle systems management process.

    In addition to the Army awards, DOD has issued a call for nominations for the following two acquisition awards. Multiple awards will be presented to individuals and teams in each category for achievements that exemplify the established goals and objectives that further life-cycle cost reduction and acquisition excellence within DOD.

    Each award has different criteria, submittal timelines, performance periods, and nomination procedures. For detailed information, nomination forms, and examples of winning nominations, visit the Acquisition Support Center website, or contact Stanley Eisenhower at (703) 805-1096, Stanley.O.Eisenhower.Civ@mail.mil.


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  • Faces of the Force

    Template for Faces of the Force

    Soldier makes a point of helping somebody every day

     

    By Teresa Mikulsky Purcell

     

    FOTF: What do you do in the Army? Why is it important?

    SAORRONO: : I am currently the 904th Contingency Contracting Battalion NCOIC at Fort Knox. My daily routine revolves around procuring supplies and services for a variety of customers, units and Soldiers that can range in number from 10 to 100. I’m also responsible for 51C, military contracting and classification training, where I teach individuals acquisition procedures and how to be a contracting officer representative. I also provide contingency contracting unit training. My job is important because I am constantly working to provide Soldiers with what they need, on time, so they can be successful in their different missions.

    FOTF: Tell us about an interesting experience you’ve had on the job.

    SAORRONO: When Hurricane Sandy hit the Atlantic Coast last year, we were called on to supply Fort Knox’s 19th Engineer Battalion with basic life support as they helped victims in New Jersey. The unit was already in New Jersey when we got the call to help. I immediately started making phone calls to anyone I could think of to find vendors who could supply water, portable toilets and showers, tents, cots to sleep on, the capability to serve hot meals, whatever was needed to sustain the Soldiers during their mission. I was able to quickly locate a vendor with the right capabilities who was already in place on the ground. I ended up driving to Fort Dix, N.J., to manage all of the acquisition needs closer to the field.

    FOTF: What were the challenges associated with this situation, and how did you overcome them?

    SAORRONO: The first challenge was negotiating a price with the vendor. We wanted to use him because he was already on location and had everything that was needed in place, but his price was too high. I quickly did my homework to find competitive pricing and pointed out that he was already there supporting the National Guard, so he did not have to incur any additional set up fees. I was able to negotiate with him to lower his price to meet our cost targets and save the Army some money.

    The greatest challenge, though, was trying to track down which organization was going to fund this activity. That could have been a showstopper, and we didn’t have the luxury of time for that. Working with the battalion, it took about an hour to track down their resource manager at Fort Riley, Kan., who was able to give us the information we needed. We had the contract and the money, so all we had to do then was execute. Within a few hours, the 19th Engineer Battalion had everything it needed. That was a good day’s work.

    FOTF: What’s the payoff for you in doing your job every day?

    SAORRONO: Soldiers have a mission to do. In this particular situation, they didn’t expect the mission, but they knew they had to go out and make it happen. They would have slept on the cold, wet ground without basic necessities if they had to in order to complete their mission. That’s where I came in. It was my job to get them what they needed. Unless you’ve been there, you don’t know what it’s like not to have basic life support while on a mission.

    When a Soldier comes up to me and thanks me for the hot meal or a warm shower, that’s all I need to keep going because I know I’ve helped a fellow Soldier. What motivates me every day is knowing that I’m going to go to work and help somebody. I love what I do.

    FOTF: What motivated you to join the Army, and were there any difficulties you faced as a result of your decision?

    SAORRONO: I grew up in a family full of men, cousins and an uncle, who were all in the military. As a child, I’d listen to them tell stories about their experiences in Vietnam, or what it was like to lose a friend in battle. I decided at an early age that I was going to be the first female in my family to join the Army. I wanted to serve my country, and when I finished high school, I enlisted. At that point, I never thought about college, I could think only of the military.

    The hardest part was leaving my home in Puerto Rico and going to the United States. I didn’t know English very well. I believe that if you want to do something, you have to find a way to overcome the challenges. I wanted to be a part of the Army, and I was determined to go forward with it. I studied English and did extra things at boot camp, like physical training and keeping my bunk clean, to make sure I was on the right path.

    FOTF: What key message would you like to share with others about life and the 51C acquisition career field?

    SAORRONO: Take one day at a time, and work to turn a bad day into a good one by learning from it and making it positive for someone else. Just because something was bad today doesn’t mean it will happen again tomorrow.

    The 51C military occupation specialty provides a good opportunity for your life after the military. It is helping me get my degree, and I plan to go on and earn a master’s degree. This will transfer well to the civilian world, where I can do the same thing to support Soldiers as a civilian employee. If your main goal is about taking care of the Soldier, this is the place to be.

    For more information on MOS 51C reclassification, visit http://asc.army.mil.


    • “Faces of the Force” is an online feature highlighting members of the Army Acquisition Workforce. Produced by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communication Division, and working closely with public affairs officers, Soldiers and Civilians currently serving in a variety of AL&T disciplines are featured every other week. For more information, or to nominate someone, please contact 703-805-1006.

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  • USAASC announces MOS 51C reclassification board results

    Tara Clements

     

    Fort Belvoir, Va. (March 18, 2013) – The U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center (USAASC) convened a 51C Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) reclassification board, administered by the 51C Proponent Office, Feb. 26-27, 2013 at Fort Belvoir, Va.

    “This was a very competitive board and we received the largest number of applications than ever before,” said Lt. Col. Anthony Maneri, FA 51C Proponent Officer. “The selection rate was only 28 percent,” he said.

    Out of 182 candidates, 44 were selected for reclassification.

    The purpose of the board was to ensure the best qualified NCOs from across the Army were selected for reclassification into military occupational specialty (MOS) 51C, an Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Contracting NCO, which is part of the Army Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Workforce.

    “We have a great representation of different Army specialties among the selected candidates,” said Maneri. “Of the 44 selected, we have 28 military occupation specialties represented, with most coming from the Infantry,” he added.

    The primary mission for 51C NCOs is to deploy as contingency contracting officers and serve as members of the early entry module contingency contracting team. When not deployed, selected NCOs will serve as contingency contracting officers in support of a headquarters, principal assistant responsible for contracting, contracting support brigades, contingency contracting battalions, and/or installation contracting offices for training and mission support.

    The USAASC 51C Proponent Office would like to congratulate the following NCOs on their selection:

    Staff Sgt. Reginald D. Alexander Staff Sgt. Shantae R. Jenkins
    Sgt. Ambrosio C. Alvarez Sgt. Catherine-Tehila O. Johnson
    Staff Sgt. Jenny G. Alvarez Staff Sgt. Zandrea J. Landor
    Staff Sgt. Lee J. Andrews Staff Sgt. Adriane L. Lewis
    Staff Sgt. Alfredo Avila Sgt. Parquette J. Magee
    Staff Sgt. Brandon L. Barber Staff Sgt. Ashly N. Martin
    Sgt. Cedric R. Belmont Sgt. 1st Class Mary E. Matthews
    Sgt. James P. Bradshaw Staff Sgt. Enes Memic
    Sgt. Richard A. Burns Staff Sgt. Sabriya F. Mitchell
    Staff Sgt. Jesse A. Campos Sgt. 1st Class Tamisha B. Patterson
    Sgt. Jene A. Carter Staff Sgt. Darius T. Porter
    Staff Sgt. Jenny A. Cisneros Staff Sgt. Johnathan D. Robbins
    Sgt. Arthur J. Dominguez Sgt. Steven T. Schoening
    Sgt. Mark H. Fitzgerald Staff Sgt. Orlando R. Serna
    Sgt. Francis S. Frenette Staff Sgt. Scott J. Smith
    Staff Sgt. Matthew F. Girard Staff Sgt. Richard J. Thorpe
    Sgt. Kailey A. Good-Hallahan Staff Sgt. Nicholas S. Tollett
    Staff Sgt. Gregory M. Hamilton Sgt. Brandon K. Wilkinson
    Sgt. 1st Class Chan D. Has Staff Sgt. Brian P. Williams
    Sgt. 1st Class Megan A. Hobbs Sgt. Tornita Williams
    Staff Sgt. Destin S. Howell Sgt. Ashley R. Woods
    Staff Sgt. Young C. Jang Sgt. William J. Yongue

     
    For more information on MOS 51C, visit http://asc.army.mil.
     


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  • Army prepares for next Network Integration Evaluation

    Soldiers from 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division train on Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2 in February. The main focus for NIE 13.2 is the Follow-on Test and Evaluation (FOT&E) for WIN-T Increment 2, which is the Army's mobile network backbone. (Photos by Claire Heininger, U.S. Army)

    Claire Heininger, U.S. Army

     

    FORT BLISS, TEXAS — With two units now readying for Afghanistan with the Army’s new tactical communications network, the service will continue to drive technology forward through its next Network Integration Evaluation this spring.

    Soldier training, vehicle integration, system check-outs and other preparations are well underway in advance of NIE 13.2, which begins in May at Fort Bliss and White Sands Missile Range, N.M. It is the fifth in the series of semi-annual field evaluations designed to keep pace with rapid advances in communications technologies and deliver proven and integrated network capabilities to Soldiers.

    The NIEs are not stand-alone events, but build on previous exercises by improving the Army’s integrated network baseline and incorporating Soldier feedback into system functionality and training methods. As the Army continues to field network capability sets with systems and doctrine vetted through the NIE, the events will further evolve to include joint and coalition involvement next year.

    “The NIE offers us the ability to evaluate and improve the network incrementally,” said Maj. Gen. Harold Greene, the Deputy for Acquisition and Systems Management, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, known as ASA(ALT). “It forces the community together in an environment where Soldiers are telling us what we did well and what we didn’t do well — very graphically, very visually, very obviously.”

    From combined arms maneuver across more than 150 miles of desert to subterranean operations in mountain caves, NIE 13.2 includes mission threads designed to measure network performance at all echelons, from the brigade commander down to the dismounted Soldier. It will include an aerial tier to extend the range of communications and operational energy solutions to more efficiently power networked equipment.

    “We’ve got some good questions, and the scenario will allow us to get at a lot of those operational pieces,” said Col. Elizabeth Bierden, chief of the Network Integration Division, Brigade Modernization Command, or BMC. “We’ve seen many of the systems before, but I think we just get the network better every single time.”

    An engineer works on a Bradley Fighting Vehicle equipped with network gear in preparation for the Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 13.2. From combined arms maneuver across more than 150 miles of desert to subterranean operations in mountain caves, NIE 13.2 includes mission threads designed to measure network performance at all echelons, from the brigade commander down to the dismounted Soldier.

    The main focus for NIE 13.2 is the Follow-on Test and Evaluation (FOT&E) for Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2, the Army’s mobile network backbone. WIN-T Increment 2 provides an enhanced capability over the current Increment 1 version used today in Afghanistan, including unprecedented “on-the-move” communications capabilities down to the company level. A successful test will enable the Army to keep fielding WIN-T Increment 2 to operational units beyond Capability Set 13, which is now being delivered to select brigade combat teams (BCTs) preparing for deployment.

    During the FOT&E, the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division (2/1 AD) will conduct the full range of military operations — from movement to contact to peacekeeping — and stretch the WIN-T network over even greater distances than during NIE 12.2, which was the unit’s first formal chance to assess the system. Following that evaluation in May 2012, the Army aggressively pursued and implemented corrective actions to address the areas identified for improvement, and 2/1 AD Soldiers have also become more comfortable and proficient with the equipment.

    “The training is more hands-on, and with the knowledge we already have we’re able to go more in-depth,” said Spc. Erik Liebhaber, who has participated in three NIEs and said training for 13.2 incorporated specific scenarios that Soldiers had previously encountered in the field. “That’s a big part of the continuity.”

    Other systems under formal test include Joint Battle Command-Platform (JBC-P), the Army’s next-generation situational awareness and blue force tracking technology; Nett Warrior, a smartphone-like system for dismounted leaders; the Area Mine Clearance System-Medium Flail, an armored vehicle designed for clearing large areas of anti-tank and anti-personnel landmines; and Tactical Communication and Protection System, designed to prevent hearing injury while allowing Soldiers to remain cognizant of their environment during combat. A dozen additional systems, such as those comprising the aerial tier, will receive less formal evaluations.

    Both JBC-P and Nett Warrior have actively incorporated user feedback from several previous NIE cycles into their hardware and software designs.

    “It’s gotten a lot simpler to use,” Staff Sgt. Lance Bradford said of JBC-P. “That was our largest suggestion to them — you’ve got to get this more user-friendly.”

    Soldier feedback and lessons-learned from the NIEs not only affect the conduct of future NIE iterations, but have also been applied to the process of producing, fielding and training units on Capability Set (CS) 13, which is the Army’s first such communications package to provide integrated connectivity throughout the BCT. The NIEs informed all aspects of CS 13, from how network systems are installed onto a vehicle, to which training approach is most effective, to which Soldiers within a brigade are issued certain pieces of equipment.

    Two BCTs of the 10th Mountain Division, now in the final stages of training before deploying to Afghanistan later this year, are receiving lessons-learned and recommended operational uses for the equipment that were developed during the NIE process. Serving as Security Forces Advise and Assist Teams (SFAATs), the units will rely on the new network as they work closely with the Afghan forces, take down fixed infrastructure and become increasingly mobile and dispersed in their operations.

    While NIE missions to date have confirmed that CS 13 can support such operations, they have not been limited to the Afghan mission. The NIE 13.2 scenario will set the stage for future exercises that will include new offensive and defensive operations replicating what units may face in other regions, including joint and coalition involvement beginning with NIE 14.2 next spring.

    “We are trying to set the stage for a joint and multinational effort in 14.2, and so we’re looking across functions at Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, close air support, air ground-integration, with the major objectives focused on joint entry operations and the joint network,” said Brig. Gen. Randal Dragon, BMC commander. “We’ll be in a position to look at a number of those joint functions and we’ll set the stage through the series of NIEs we have coming up.”
     
     


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  • Humvee training sets support Army network fielding

    Soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), train using Capability Set 13, or CS 13, at Fort Polk, La., March 2, 2013. The Soldiers are using a Humvee training set integrated with components of CS 13, mirroring the systems in the mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle, known as an MRAP, variants that the brigade combat team will fall in on when they arrive in Operation Enduring Freedom. The unit will be the first to use CS 13, an on-the-move communications network that stays connected over vast distances, providing information throughout the brigade down to the lowest echelons. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Kulani Lakanaria)

    Claire Heininger, U.S. Army

     

    RED RIVER ARMY DEPOT, Texas — The Army is preparing to deploy the first Security Forces Advise and Assist Team to Afghanistan equipped with the latest suite of integrated network communications gear, but first the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), must train on the new equipment and learn how it will aid in the advise and assist mission.

    To get the brigade’s Soldiers quickly trained and ready for the deployment, the Army has integrated some of the network capability into a familiar vehicle platform.

    The Humvees rolling off the line here — more than 330 over the course of four months — are equipped with data radios, situational awareness software and other network systems that will be used by lower-tier echelons in the brigade. Two brigade combat teams, or BCTs, of the 10th Mountain Division are using the Humvee vehicles for their Mission Rehearsal Exercises and other stateside training before deploying to Afghanistan, where they will receive mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, or MRAPs, All-Terrain Vehicles, M-ATVs, and MaxxPro vehicles with the same lower-tier network package for use in theater.

    “The Humvee training sets have the same systems and configurations that the units will see in theater, so it’s a good way to familiarize Soldiers with how to employ the network while taking advantage of the vehicles the Army has available in the U.S.,” said Maj. Rick Wilkins, the Army’s assistant product manager for light tactical vehicles, who is overseeing the production effort. Network components on the lower-tier MRAP vehicles will be integrated in theater, allowing for the units to ‘fall in’ on the equipment once they arrive later this year.

    The quick-reaction project to complete the Humvees reflects a strong partnership between the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, known as ASA(ALT), and Army Materiel Command, or AMC, to leverage expertise across both communities and deliver a needed capability to support Operation Enduring Freedom.

    The training vehicles are one part of the service’s comprehensive effort to quickly field Capability Set 13, known as CS 13, to select BCTs, who will deploy to Afghanistan to support the drawdown of U.S. forces. CS 13 is the Army’s first integrated communications package that spans the entire BCT formation, connecting the static tactical operations center to the commander on-the-move to the dismounted Soldier. The network will provide on-the-move voice and data communications over vast distances, which will be critical as U.S. troops work closely with the Afghan forces, take down fixed infrastructure and become increasingly mobile and dispersed in their operations.

    A technician at Red River Army Depot, Texas, works to install network equipment onto a Capability Set 13 training set Humvee. The integration work at Red River Army Depot to prepare the Humvees is a complex effort that the Army is executing for the first time. With a team of more than 25 skilled technicians, each day the line churns out an average of six vehicles. (Photo by Claire Heininger)

    The first recipients of the Humvees are the 4th and 3rd BCTs, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), who are now training with those vehicles as well as higher-echelon MRAPs integrated with Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2, the mobile network backbone of the capability set, and the latest tactical data radios and Mission Command software. These M-ATV “Key leader” vehicles were first equipped with Underbody Improvement Kits, or UIKs, at the Fort Bliss, Texas, MRAP facility and subsequently shipped and integrated with the communications suite at Space and Naval Warfare, or SPAWAR, Systems Center Atlantic in Charleston, S.C. When the brigades deploy, they will take the higher-tier MRAPs with them and augment them with the lower-tier vehicles they will receive in theater. Meanwhile the Army will then rotate the Humvees to the follow-on units receiving CS 13, who will also be provided their own set of key leader MRAP vehicles.

    “Rotating the networked Humvees among units allows the Army to cost-effectively train thousands of Soldiers on the capability set, and do it in a way that makes sense for the brigades’ training and deployment schedules,” said Col. Rob Carpenter, Army director of System of Systems Integration.

    Similar to the SPAWAR team’s work to network the MRAPs, the integration work at Red River Army Depot to prepare the Humvees is a complex effort that the Army is executing for the first time.

    The Humvees are integrated in multistep process. Seats and armor are stripped from each vehicle and brackets to hold the network capabilities are installed. Holes are drilled in the exterior to let air flow in and prevent overheating. Cables are measured, cut and connected. One of the more complex efforts involved switching out the Humvee alternator for a higher-output version, to help power the radios, antennas, switches, transceivers, computer screens and other network parts which are also precisely installed.

    With a team of more than 25 skilled technicians, each day the line churns out an average of six vehicles. The training sets come in three different configurations of varying complexity, depending on the user’s role in the BCT, said Robert Vallee, the depot’s supervisor for Humvee reset. The Army leveraged the Humvee original equipment manufacturer to come up with an integration design, which was then validated and turned over to RRAD for physical integration.

    “The timeline was very aggressive, and from a platform perspective it was a steep learning curve” to become familiar with and incorporate network equipment from several different sources, Wilkins said.

    But leveraging the experienced technicians at Red River, the operation overcame these challenges and is on track to finish production by the end of March, he said.

    “This was a great team effort across ASA(ALT), including Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, and Combat Support and Combat Service Support, AMC depots and our industry partners to design build and deliver a cost-effective training solution on a tight calendar schedule,” Carpenter said. “These training sets are an essential asset as we continue to execute the CS 13 fielding mission.”
     
     


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  • First unit readies for Afghanistan with new network

    Soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, train using Capability Set 13, at Fort Polk, La., March 3, 2013. A major focus of CS 13 is equipping dismounted leaders and Soldiers with tools that provide the type of situational awareness and communications capabilities that were previously only available in vehicles or command posts. (Photo by SGT David Edge, C230 IN)

    Claire Heininger, U.S. Army

     

    FORT POLK, La. — When they deploy to Afghanistan this summer to assist in the drawdown of U.S. forces, the Soldiers of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, will have a new edge.

    The unit will be the first to use an on-the-move communications network that stays connected over vast distances, providing information throughout the brigade down to the lowest echelons. That capability will be critical as U.S. troops work closely with the Afghan forces, take down fixed infrastructure and become increasingly mobile and dispersed in their operations, leaders said.

    “This is much needed in Afghanistan,” said Brig. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, deputy commanding general for support, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry). Like their counterparts in the 4th Brigade Combat Team, or BCT, the Division’s 3rd BCT will also be deploying as a Security Forces Advise and Assist Team, or SFAAT, with the new network later this year.

    “Imagine you’re a Soldier and you need information on a given area, or you want to see where units are located to your left and right,” Piatt said. “You don’t want to have to come back to headquarters; you don’t want to have to force a transmission over a radio net just to get that. You want to have that information readily available. (This network) allows us to do that on the move, and allows us to do it dismounted as well.”

    Known as Capability Set 13, or CS 13, the package will allow the 10th Mountain units to utilize advanced satellite-based systems — augmented by data radios, handheld devices and the latest mission command software — to transmit voice/chat communications and situational awareness data throughout the SFAAT. On patrol inside mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles configured with components of CS 13, leaders will be able to exchange information and execute mission command using mobile communications technologies, rather than having to remain in a fixed location to access the network.

    A Soldier from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, trains using Capability Set 13, at Fort Polk, La., Feb. 28, 2013. When they deploy to Afghanistan this summer to assist in the drawdown of U.S. forces, the BCT will be the first to use CS 13, an on-the-move communications network that stays connected over vast distances, providing information throughout the brigade down to the lowest echelons. (Photo by Claire Heininger, U.S. Army)

    The Army targeted the two brigades as the first to receive CS 13 capability because they require advanced communications to carry out their advise-and-assist mission in Operation Enduring Freedom. While the Afghan forces will be taking a lead in operations, the SFAAT units will have the network capabilities to support with situational awareness and needs such as calls for air support, artillery support and other reach-back communications.

    After several months of new equipment training to familiarize Soldiers with CS 13, the 4th BCT is now immersed in intensive final preparations for deployment. The prep includes a several weeks-long Joint Readiness Training Center rotation where they will use the gear in realistic operational scenarios based on the SFAAT mission.

    The 10th Mountain brigades are also receiving lessons-learned and recommended tactics, techniques and procedures, known as TTPs, for using the equipment that were developed during the Army’s Network Integration Evaluation, or NIE, process.

    The semi-annual field exercises involve 3,800 Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, who use networked equipment as they execute mission threads in the rough terrain of White Sands Missile Range, N.M. The NIEs were used to integrate the CS 13 network and validate its performance prior to fielding. They also produced voluminous Soldier feedback that was incorporated into vehicle designs, handheld device configurations, software features and other elements of the capability set.

    Capt. Joseph Perry, a company commander with 2/1 AD who has participated in several NIEs, said he looks forward to seeing how the SFAAT teams will ultimately use the network in theater.

    “I’m really curious to see what their feedback is,” he said. “I’d like to see the circle complete.”

    The brigades’ deployment with CS 13 will be the culmination of a total Army effort to quickly field the capabilities, spanning dozens of commands and locations and requiring constant coordination among network and vehicle project managers, production facilities, brigade staffs and fielding and training professionals. Along with the sophistication of the equipment, the fielding effort was unique because it marked the first time the Army delivered a complete package of network technologies that was integrated up front, rather than providing each system independently.

    “This is the way the Army needs to conduct business for this type of fielding,” said Lt. Col. Bill Venable, the Army’s system of systems integration “trail boss” assigned to 4/10. “Synchronizing equipment deliveries, vehicle touches, training and other elements makes sense for communications systems that are integrated across the BCT, and helps reduce the burden on the unit operating in a time-constrained environment.”
     
     


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  • Faces of the Force

    Template for Faces of the Force

    Passion and past deployments drive Soldier’s development of protective gear

     

    By Teresa Mikulsky Purcell

     

    FOTF: What do you do in the Army? Why is it important?

    LOZANO: I am currently the program manager for Soldier Protective Equipment. My portfolio includes hard and soft body armor plates and vests as well as combat helmets, ballistic eyewear, concealable body armor, pelvic protection, and traumatic brain injury helmet sensors. Our products are literally the Soldier’s first line of defense, protecting them from a myriad of blast and ballistic threats. What we do saves lives; it doesn’t get any more important than that.

    FOTF: How have your Army career and deployments helped you in your current role?

    LOZANO: I spent nine years as an armor officer and during my previous deployment to Iraq, I remember being on my tank with my gear on and being disappointed that equipment wasn’t upgraded fast enough. That’s what motivates me: I don’t want to be that guy the Soldiers in the field are disappointed in because I’m not providing them with what they need. Since I’ve been in my current position, I’ve been adamant about traveling to Iraq and Afghanistan to interact with our Soldiers in the fight to get a really good feel for what aspects of our gear are working and what aspects need improvement. Constant user interface is critical to this job.

    FOTF: How do you go about developing the right piece of protective equipment for Soldiers?

    LOZANO: There isn’t one cookie-cutter type shape or size that works for the whole realm of Soldiers we serve, and every Solider has strong opinions about what he wears. So we spend a lot of time with them—immediately after upgrades are engineered—to take into account their feedback. We call this the “human factor perspective.”

    We feel like we are in a constant state of improvement, working on a 9 to 12-month cycle that often includes two or three iterative design and upgrade phases. We’re really good at the “bread and butter drill”—design, test, validate. We do this as quickly as possible to continually integrate equipment upgrades.

    FOTF: What impacts you the most about your job on a personal level?

    Lt. Col. Frank Lozano shares a moment with some of his team members during a recent meeting. (Photo by Michael Clayton, PEO Soldier)

    LOZANO: Occasionally, I go to the military medical centers at Fort Sam Houston or Bethesda to meet with what we call “the saves”—Soldiers who have seen treacherous combat and are recovering from injuries. That’s the hardest part for me. When I meet with Soldiers and families who have been through these traumatic events, they tell me they’re honestly grateful for the equipment our team has fielded because they were wearing it and it works. That’s rewarding to hear, but it’s also sorrowful. It grounds me and motivates me to work harder and do everything humanly possible to provide the best equipment possible.

    FOTF: What is your biggest challenge, and how have you overcome it?

    LOZANO: The most challenging aspect of my job holistically is stakeholder management. There are a lot of people involved in body armor processes, from buying and testing to fielding. Managing product timelines with vendors and interacting with Army senior leaders, congressional representatives, and members of the media are also very demanding tasks—this is a real “hot button topic.”

    The best way I know how to handle this is to gather the most reliable data regarding their concerns and communicate in an honest, humble manner. Sometimes, I can’t sugarcoat things. For example, everyone wants body armor to be lighter, so do I, but it takes time to safely mature new technologies that will enable lighter weight body armor. We have numerous developmental programs underway to make this happen. Our body armor today, right now, is absolutely as light as it can be to protect against the family of threats and harsh conditions it is expected to survive, and that’s what I tell them, because protecting the Soldier is of paramount importance.

    FOTF: How has your program been recognized?

    LOZANO: Based on the tremendous work my team has done to protect Soldiers, our Pelvic Protection System won the 2012 Army Acquisition Excellence Award. It was also a 2011 Top Ten Army’s Greatest Inventions award winner, along with our Helmet Sensor Program and Soldier Plate Carrier System. We do everything we can to provide Soldiers with the best equipment the world has ever seen. I don’t mean to boast, but I believe this is 100 percent true. I’ve seen and shot at body armor produced by other countries, and ours is superior, so much so that we are doing some foreign military sales of approved versions of our body armor. Other countries are leveraging the technology we have developed in the United States because they understand that we produce and accept only the best for our Soldiers.

    Watch Lt. Col. Lozano on YouTube demonstrating the Improved Outer Tactical Vest and Pelvic Protection System.

    Read about the 2011 Army’s Greatest Inventions in AL&T Magazine.

    For more information, visit PEO Soldier.


    • “Faces of the Force” is an online feature highlighting members of the Army Acquisition Workforce. Produced by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communication Division, and working closely with public affairs officers, Soldiers and Civilians currently serving in a variety of AL&T disciplines are featured every other week. For more information, or to nominate someone, please contact 703-805-1006.

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  • Detailed geospatial map data provides Soldiers greater technology, in less time

    Command Post of the Future (CPOF) is moving to the next generation of mission command with Command Post Web, a web version of CPOF that provides similar capabilities to users with access to the Army’s tactical network. (U.S. Army Photo)

    Nancy Jones-Bonbrest

     

    ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya reinforced the need for U.S. Army Africa (USARAF) to have at its fingertips the ability to draw upon the most up-to-date detailed maps and imagery of any given region at a moment’s notice.

    Project Manager Mission Command (PM MC) is helping to streamline the delivery of maps and imagery through the use of specialized geospatial products that work with the Army’s primary mission command information system, known as Command Post of the Future (CPOF).

    Although CPOF users have an initial set of digital maps at their disposal, there is usually not enough storage space to keep the latest and most detailed maps for every contingency across the globe. For combatant commands such as USARAF, which covers most of the African continent, sometimes the need arises where they must request customized map sets.

    Within days of the flare-up in Libya, PM MC coordinated the creation and installation of a specialized map set providing the most recent imagery and detailed maps of that area in support of USARAF.

    “When the incident happened we identified the need and got the maps out to them,” said Lt. Col. Tom Bentzel, the Army’s product manager for Tactical Mission Command (PdM TMC), part of PM MC. “We recognize there’s use for both broad map coverage and detailed map imagery of specific areas of interest. When a new area of interest emerged in Libya, we were able to build a CPOF map set to cover it.”

    The maps sent were of several countries in northern Africa, including Libya, and offered sub-meter imagery that was orthorectified to allow for terrain displacement.

    “The maps are used on the Soldiers’ CPOF systems to plan, fight and coordinate the common operating picture,” said Matthew Tessier, map manager for PdM TMC and who developed the map sets in response to the flare up in Libya. “Without this technology and the accuracy of it, we could be putting our fighting forces in harm’s way. Getting them the most up-to-date maps for their mission was and is essential to saving lives.”

    To continue supplying detailed map data sets in shorter turnaround times, PM MC, assigned to the Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, is building an expanded map library. So when conflicts arise, like the recent situation at the Amenas gas plant in Algeria or the clash in Mali, USARAF has detailed imagery if needed.

    Tessier works closely with the Army’s Geospatial Center and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to gather map data, then using specialized software converts it for CPOF users.

    CPOF allows units to plot real-time operations like firefights on a three-dimensional map, and instantly see updates.

    A recent switch by PdM TMC from proprietary software to a commercial mapping capability for the CPOF system has allowed more options when it comes to the data resources used to pull together maps and imagery. For example, PdM TMC can now take an online, commercially available map of a building or site of interest, such as a university or office complex, and combine it with existing military map sets.

    “We switched over to commercial software that allows us to be more flexible with raw data,” said Tessier. “We can now gather different types of data available either through military channels or civilian, and have the flexibility to incorporate that onto our map sets.”

    PdM TMC is also working with Army terrain teams within USARAF to equip them with the same ability to build maps based upon their tactical needs, significantly shortening the amount of time needed to convert and ship the map sets.

    Leslie Call, a PM MC field service representative with USARAF, said the new technology allows the unit to load five times more data onto each hard drive and equips USARAF geospatial engineers with the ability to quickly convert additional imagery for CPOF as hotspots arise.

    “We are effectively cutting out the middle man and giving ownership of the maps where it belongs, with the unit,” said Call. “The unit can accomplish in hours what used to take a week.”

    As CPOF continues to evolve, it is embracing the next generation of mission command technology with Command Post Web, a web version of CPOF offering similar capability to users with access to the Army’s tactical network. This will also allow CPOF users to pull feeds from other map-based, mission command systems such as Tactical Ground Reporting (TIGR), Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A) and Joint Battle Command — Platform (JBC-P).

    “One of our goals is to have the best maps out there,” said Bentzel. “So in addition to deploying our own map servers we’re making it possible to access other map services like DCGS-A and TIGR. Every commander wants great maps because they help visualize the battlefield and make better decisions. The tools we’re building make great maps the norm, not the exception.”
     
     


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