Army Prepares to Field Networked Technologies to Deploying Brigade Combat Teams
Having concluded its third Network Integration Evaluation (NIE), the Army is in the midst of synchronized fielding efforts for the first integrated group of advanced tactical communications technologies to deploying Soldiers beginning this October.
This group of networked technologies, known as Capability Set (CS) 13, is composed of network components, associated equipment, and software that will deliver, for the first time, an integrated voice and data capability throughout the entire brigade combat team (BCT) formation, from the brigade commander to the tactical edge—the dismounted Soldier.
The five-week NIE 12.2 validated the connectivity, architecture, and components of CS 13, the tactical network baseline that will extend the network down to the individual Soldier and significantly enhance Mission Command on-the-Move and Soldier Connectivity (Nett Warrior).
“The Agile Process and three consecutive NIEs have built a very solid team across dozens of Army organizations. We are taking lessons learned from the NIEs and directly applying those to fielding CS 13 to the 10th Mountain and other units.”
Agile Acquisition Process
The NIE is a key enabler of the Army’s new Agile Acquisition Process, aimed at rapidly developing, acquiring, and fielding integrated mission command capabilities. This process allows the Army to assess capability gaps, rapidly form requirements, solicit mature industry solutions, and perform laboratory and field evaluations; taking years off the traditional acquisition timeline.
The Army’s Capability Set fielding plan supports a synchronized vehicle and network fielding strategy, prioritizes capabilities for deployed forces, and improves alignment of limited resources.
Beginning in October, the Army will field CS 13 to as many as eight BCTs, with priority going to deployed forces (three BCTs), units scheduled to deploy next (three BCT training sets), a forward-stationed brigade in Korea, and the 2nd Heavy BCT, 1st Armored Division (2/1 AD).
Key to this endeavor is bringing the Army’s program executive offices (PEOs) and program managers (PMs) together during the NIE/Agile Process using the Capability Set Integrated Master Schedule (IMS) for integration, production, and deployment. The IMS is the backbone of CS 13, synchronizing the network and vehicle PMs’ master schedules for integrating and fielding capability sets.
On May 1, the Army completed the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) final design review, which solidified how CS 13 assets will be integrated into that vehicle platform. MRAPs will be used in the first infantry BCT formations that will be equipped with CS 13.
The NIE has been vital to validating MRAP network design and architecture. Soldier feedback during the NIE process has led to many design and user interface improvements that are being incorporated into the final MRAP configuration. Under the current construct, networked High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) platforms will be used as training sets by CONUS units as they prepare to deploy. Working with U.S. Army Research and Development Centers and industry, Capability Set fielding teams have nearly completed the HMMWV preliminary design review.
Final engineering drawings for the first five “super configuration” MRAP prototype vehicles were finalized at the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center (TARDEC) in Warren, MI.
On June 25, production of those first five vehicles equipped with CS 13 assets began at TARDEC. In August, these vehicles will be shipped to Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, where they will undergo safety release testing and network verification testing.
“We are beginning to build and test the Capability Set 13 prototypes, which is an astronomical feat given that we started the production design only six months ago,” said Elizabeth Miller, Chief Engineer, Synchronized Fielding in the System of Systems Integration (SoSI) Directorate.
The remaining prototype vehicles to be equipped with CS 13 will be built at the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) in Charleston, SC and the Red River Army Depot in Texarkana, TX. SPAWAR will build the MRAP production assets to support the October fielding of CS 13, while HMMWV training set production will be done at Red River.
Unit Fielding Process
As vehicle and system design and integration plans are finalized, equipping meetings with receiving units have swung into high gear. The first units to receive CS 13 will be two brigades in the 10th Mountain (MTN) Division. Recently, several key Army commands and staff offices including U.S. Army Forces Command, U.S. Army Materiel Command, U.S. Army Deputy Chiefs of Staff G-3/5/7 and G-8, SoSI, and several PEOs attended a three-day CS 13 Unit Equipping and Reuse Conference with the 3rd BCT, 10th MTN to develop, synchronize and schedule all CS 13 New Equipment Training/New Equipment Fielding (NET/NEF) requirements with the receiving brigade’s training schedule. New equipment training will begin with 10th MTN units in October.
Following this conference, a two-day 4/10 MTN Synchronized Fielding Conference was held to update the unit’s NET/NEF schedule and long-range training calendar. Additionally, an IMS update took place with each CS 13 product manager to get a final lock on their training and fielding requirements, equipment delivery dates, and integration requirements, as well as to establish dependencies, predecessors, and successors for each event.
“We are very excited about the great integrated capability that we will soon field to our brigade and Soldiers,” said LTC(P) Darby McNulty, SoSI. “The Agile Process and three consecutive NIEs have built a very solid team across dozens of Army organizations. We are taking lessons learned from the NIEs and directly applying those to fielding CS 13 to the 10th Mountain and other units.”
After fielding CS 13, the Army will program to field up to six BCT sets of network equipment per year for the FY14-18 Program Objective Memorandum, to better synchronize its platform and network modernization efforts.
- KATIE CAIN is a Media Relations Specialist for the Tolliver Group Inc. supporting the ASAALT SoSI Directorate. Cain holds a B.A. in applied arts in integrative public relations, with a minor in political science from Central Michigan University.