Faces of the Force: Product Manager Waveforms

By October 6, 2016June 13th, 2017Army ALT Magazine, Faces of the Force
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BICOASTAL TEAM PROVIDES KEY WAVEFORMS FOR RADIOS

by Ms. Argie Sarantinos-Perrin

When a Soldier needs to communicate, he picks up his radio and starts talking. He doesn’t think about how his radio works. When Soldiers rely on their radios to talk, send texts and share data, it is the networking waveforms that connect the radio “box” and enable the radio to function and perform different tasks. For instance, some waveforms provide network connectivity between Soldiers on the ground and in the air, and other waveforms provide connectivity between Soldiers who are spread across large distances or in mountainous areas.

The Product Manager (PM) Waveforms team, which comprises a staff in San Diego and a group at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), Maryland, is responsible for sustaining, testing and improving the Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW), Wideband Networking Waveform (WNW), Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System Crypto Modernization and Enterprise Over the Air Management. The team overcomes the challenge of not being able to meet face-to-face with weekly call-in staff meetings, which keep everyone updated on key issues and major projects.

“While the waveforms team is co-located, we work as a unified group, to not only continuously improve existing waveforms, but also develop cutting-edge waveforms that will extend radio communications even further,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Sugars, product manager for waveforms. “Our goal is to ensure that each Soldier is equipped with the necessary resources that he needs to successfully accomplish the mission.”

Comprising 25 civilians, military personnel and contractors, PM Waveforms oversees the development and sustainment of cost, schedule, performance and life cycle of the waveforms. A robust configuration management (CM) process ensures integrity over the life cycle of the waveforms. The CM process implements policies, procedures, techniques and tools to manage proposed changes, track the status and maintain system and support documentation as the waveforms evolve.

“Having a structured configuration management environment with clearly defined processes promotes accountability at every level,” said Stephanie Toms, configuration and risk management, policy and process senior project analyst, “but most importantly, it enables us to deliver dependable, state-of-the-art waveform products that Soldiers can count on.”

The PM Waveforms team also develops new waveforms, including two new ones that the team is currently working on: the SRW Narrowband, which will have a small bandwidth but a greater range; and the WNW Dynamic Spectrum Analysis, a dynamic, on-the-move waveform that will automatically transfer waveforms to unused frequencies.

Housed within the Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications – Tactical (PEO C3T), PM Waveforms is a relatively new team, formed in 2015 after Project Manager Joint Tactical Network was divided into two parts. While the waveform portion became PM Waveforms, the Joint Enterprise Network Manager was assigned to Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T), the tactical network backbone.

The Product Manager Waveforms team at San Diego. From left, back row: Ashley Covey, Al Pleskus, Rob Law, Anthony Dones and Farabi Hasan. Front row: Stephanie Toms, Teresa Caruso, Bryan Kimura and Dr. Rich North.

TEAM SAN DIEGO
The Product Manager Waveforms team at San Diego. From left, back row: Ashley Covey, Al Pleskus, Rob Law, Anthony Dones and Farabi Hasan. Front row: Stephanie Toms, Teresa Caruso, Bryan Kimura and Dr. Rich North.

Now that more radio vendors can successfully load government-owned waveforms onto their radio platforms, the Army has implemented a radio marketplace acquisition approach that aims to lower costs and deliver radios more quickly using non-developmental item (NDI) products. The NDI strategy, which opens competition to industry, will ensure interoperability between different vendor systems and alleviates the need for vendors to create their own waveforms.

“One of my key responsibilities is ensuring the WNW is delivered on time and on budget,” said Maj. (P) Daniel Bateman, assistant product manager for waveforms mid-tier. “I provide the scaffolding of what needs to be done, when and how, then let my staff decide how to deliver the product within that structure.”

STORING, TESTING WAVEFORMS
The waveforms, which are available to government program offices and industry partners to port onto their platforms, are stored in the Waveform Information Repository (IR), which is maintained by the Joint Tactical Networking Center. By porting government-owned waveforms from the IR onto radios, vendors do not have to create their own waveforms, saving time, reducing cost and ensuring that all of the radios that use the common DOD-authorized waveforms are interoperable and secure. With the common waveforms, improvements can be made without deploying new hardware to the field, which is important in improving network security and defending against increased cyber threats. Additionally, the waveforms can be used by other services, including the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

Before the waveforms are added to the IR, they are tested at two reference information laboratories (RILs) that PM Waveforms oversees. The SRIL, or SRW lab, is located at APG, and the WRIL, or WNW lab, is in Charleston, South Carolina. By working closely with the National Security Agency. PM Waveforms ensures that the waveforms are Type I and Type II information security certified.

PROVIDING THE LINK
The SRW and WNW waveforms are internet protocol (IP) based, so they can interoperate with other IP-based networks. For example, the SRW and WNW provide a seamless network interface with existing DOD network infrastructures such as WIN-T. Interoperability is also achieved through the software communications architecture (SCA), which provides the framework and parameters that enable the radios to load waveforms, run applications and successfully interoperate across an integrated system. The SCA leads to greater innovation since vendors can make changes to a waveform and add them back to the IR so that other vendors can benefit from the changes. This not only fosters interoperability among radios, but it also reduces the overall cost of ownership to the waveforms since any changes—including performance or security—are made only once in a single baseline.

PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE
PM Waveforms is currently working on follow-on contracts for both the SRW and WNW, which are on the Software In-Service Support (SwISS) contract. By responding to requests for information and conducting market surveys and one-on-one meetings, PM Waveforms is gathering information that it will use to develop the request for proposals, which is planned for release in FY 2017.

“Coordinating the group efforts for the new SwISS contract is challenging, but we are coming together well to get the job done,” said Greg Avato, acquisition management specialist. “Since the SwISS contract will be a multiple-award, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract—a departure from the current single-award contracts—we are forced to make changes to how we evaluate, solicit and award our task orders. We are also reviewing the best way to account for the software data rights in a multiple award environment.”

Contracts will be awarded to multiple vendors for both the SRW and WNW, and each task order will be competed. Based on current milestones, the Army plans to award contracts in FY18. In addition to increasing the number of qualified vendors, this approach will also allow for greater innovation.


Lt. Col. Timothy Sugars

Lt. Col. Timothy Sugars

Lt. Col. Timothy Sugars

Title: Product Manager Waveforms, Project Manager Tactical Radios, Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications – Tactical (PEO C3T)
Years of Service in Workforce: 9
Years of Military Service: 18
DAWIA Certifications: Level III in program management; Level I in test and evaluation
Education: M.S. in management from Austin Peay State University; B.S. in criminal justice from Alabama State University

Briefly describe what you do in your position.

Comprising a team of 25 civilians, military and contractors, Product Manager (PM) Waveforms is responsible for current and future force common waveform software development for Joint Tactical Network radios. This entails overseeing the development and sustainment of cost, schedule, performance and life cycle of the waveforms. These waveforms, which are provided to joint services, enable radios to transmit, receive and route voice, data and video between unmanned air and ground vehicles and combat platforms.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Key to my job is ensuring that each employee and Soldier is equipped with the necessary resources he or she needs to successfully accomplish the mission. The challenge that I am dealing with at this point, being so new, is that I am working on learning and understanding waveforms in general and all the efforts we are working toward maintaining, sustaining and improving software to support Project Manager Tactical Radios (PM TR) and the program executive office.


Maj. (P) Daniel Brett Bateman

Maj. (P) Daniel Brett Bateman

Maj. (P) Daniel Brett Bateman

Title: Assistant product manager for waveforms mid-tier
Years of Service in Workforce: 4
Years of Military Service: 16
DAWIA Certifications: Level II in program management
Education: M.E. in engineering management and mechanics, University of Colorado Springs; B.S. in mechanical engineering, Northern Arizona University

Briefly describe what you do in your position.

I supervise a multifunctional software development and program management team comprising 40 people that ensures the wideband networking waveform and science and technology efforts are delivered on time and on budget.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I work on removing or reducing barriers so that my team is successful. Some of the most prevalent barriers are insufficient resources, conflicting and ambiguous roles among stakeholders and lack of communication about what the program is chartered to deliver. I attack those barriers by providing performance standards, prioritizing tasks, securing sufficient resources and fighting opposing agendas that get in the way of making Soldiers more lethal and survivable.


Greg Avato

Greg Avato

Greg Avato

Title: Acquisition management specialist
Years of Service in Workforce: 5
DAWIA Certifications: Level II in contracting
Education: B.S. in business administration, Drexel University

Briefly describe what you do in your position.

I provide guidance, process documentation and track contract actions for the PM Waveforms team. I also manage the integrated product team for the Software in-Service Support follow-on contracts.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is being part of the constantly evolving PM Waveforms team. We are expanding quickly while meeting waveforms requirements and supporting the various PM TR programs.


Eric Reinbold

Eric Reinbold

Eric Reinbold (Contractor, Booz Allen Hamilton)

Title: Networking communications engineer
Years of Service in Workforce: 1
Education: M.E. in communications engineering and B.S. in electrical and computer engineering, Cornell University

Briefly describe what you do in your position.

I provide technical program management of waveform capabilities in connection with stakeholder needs from PEO C3T and our sister product managers.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The amount of hard work and coordination that goes into developing and maintaining tactical radio products has been eye-opening. There’s been a lot of information to digest, but I’m enjoying the challenge. The best part is seeing our waveform products, which provide critical capabilities to Soldiers, used in PM TR radios.


Stephanie Toms

Stephanie Toms

Stephanie Toms (Contractor, CRSA International)

Title: Senior project analyst, configuration and risk management, policy and process
Years of Service in Workforce: 7.5
Certification: Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, American Graduate University Certificate of Completion in Program Management
Education: B.S. in business management from National University

Briefly describe what you do in your position.

Configuration management (CM) involves ensuring a system’s integrity over its life cycle. CM implements policies, procedures, techniques and tools to manage proposed changes, track the status and maintain system and support documentation as the system evolves. I also work with the risk manager to analyze risks, including how the risks will affect the product office.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I really enjoy developing and establishing policy and processes in regard to CM. My early exposure and experiences working for the DOD solidified my decision long ago to continue a career working for the men and women who sacrifice the unspeakable for our everyday freedoms.


MS. ARGIE SARANTINOS-PERRIN is a staff writer for DSA Inc., providing contract support to Project Manager Tactical Radios within the Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications – Tactical. She holds an M.S. in professional writing and a B.A. in mass communications from Towson University, and has 11 years of public affairs experience supporting the DOD.

This article was originally published in the October – December 2016 issue of Army AL&T Magazine.

“Faces of the Force” highlights members of the Army Acquisition Workforce through the power of individual stories. The series, produced by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communication and Support Branch in close coordination with public affairs officers, features Soldiers and DA civilians serving in a variety of AL&T disciplines. For more information, or to nominate someone, go to https://asc.army.mil/web/publications/army-alt-submissions/.