INTEGRATED NETWORK: The ITN provides smaller, lighter, faster and more flexible communications systems with multiple connectivity options primarily at battalion and below. Paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division provided the critical feedback necessary for the Army to make its final ITN design decisions for Capability Set 21. (Photo by Justin Eimers, PEO C3T Public Affairs)
PEO C3T transforms to advance Army network modernization.
by Karen Danfelt
This summer, the Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications – Tactical (PEO C3T) transformed its organizational structure to meet cross-functional and rapid acquisition requirements driving the Army’s network modernization strategy. At the center of the realignment is a new project office that will direct linkage and coordination between the Army network program offices and the Army’s Network Cross-Functional Team to advance the network modernization strategy’s lines of effort.
REALIGNING FOR A REASON
Whether you call it a reorganization, restructuring, re-engineering or something else, making a significant change to an organization’s layout is a big decision that can impact its people, operations and customers. Before redrawing the organizational chart, senior leaders must consider why they are doing it—what factors drive the need to change the organization—and whether these are right for the organization’s future.
The PEO C3T senior leadership began contemplating an organizational realignment in late 2019. A perfect storm of changes in the Army’s program and acquisition strategies inspired leaders to take a fresh look at how the organization’s resources were matched to key programs and stakeholders.
There were three key reasons for realignment.
- Stand-up of Army Futures Command.
The stand-up of U.S. Army Futures Command (AFC) in July 2018 prioritized Army modernization efforts and enabled horizontal integration across priorities. The command has been instrumental in aligning science and technology (S&T) and industry innovation to high-priority programs, including the network.
In order to support AFC efforts, program management offices have adjusted and leveraged acquisition practices and authorities not only to procure faster, but also to access and capitalize on technology being developed by industry, particularly small businesses and nontraditional defense companies.
“AFC proposed a real shake-up in the acquisition life cycle as we had known it, which was a major factor in our decision to restructure,” said Joseph Welch, deputy program executive officer for C3T. “We knew we needed to make changes to our organization so we could appropriately manage a faster transition of technology to programs of record.”
- Establishment of the Network Cross-Functional Team and network lines of effort.
With network modernization identified as one of the Army’s top priorities, the PEO quickly formed a close bond with the Network Cross-Functional Team, which AFC charged with informing and driving capability requirements through prototyping, experimentation and technical demonstrations while coordinating network-related research and development (R&D) and S&T.
Together, the PEO and Network Cross-Functional Team developed a network acquisition road map guided by four lines of effort:
Unified network transport—Ensure network transport in a contested environment and dominate adversaries in both cyberspace and the electromagnetic spectrum. Network transport capabilities allow data to be received and sent over radio and satellite communications networks, similar to the way commercial cellphone technology works.
Common operating environment—Enable distributed mission command and rapid decision-making by providing a simple, intuitive, single common operating picture through a single mission command suite.
Interoperability—Ensure joint network interoperability and coalition accessibility with all unified action partners.
Command post mobility and survivability—Deliver mobile, survivable command posts in a dynamic, lethal combat environment. The effort integrates Army tactical network communications and application capabilities onto vehicle platforms that will provide commanders greater mobility and survivability by reducing electronic signature and complexity in the setup of command posts.
The road map categorizes all network acquisitions and modernization activities by capability sets that align to the Army’s network strategy. Successful integration across the lines of effort to deliver each capability set requires the PEO’s program offices to be in lockstep with the Network Cross-Functional Team as well as the R&D and S&T communities.
- Renewed focus on alignment and transition of S&T.
Fiscal year 2020 marked the first time that research, development, test and evaluation funding was available to support capability set development. Also called 6.4 funding, it is specifically for prototypes of technologies that show promise early in the acquisition process. Although the program office manages the funding, the Network Cross-Functional Team executes the resources to experiment with prototypes from industry and S&T efforts. This experimentation informs capability-set network design; if successful, the capabilities transition to programs of record for management.
In 2020, the Network Cross-Functional Team identified eight Army-developed and six industry-based S&T efforts to use its prototype budget to develop advanced capabilities, ranging from spectrum obfuscation for signal security to mobile command posts with increased resilience and data distribution. With the volume of experimentation, resources to be managed and potential transition plans to be put in place, the PEO identified the need for a central project management office. Leaders determined that this office would serve as a financial steward for the new funding stream and monitor the prototype experimentation-demonstration-evaluation process to ensure a smooth transition to programs of record.
With these reasons in mind, “all signs pointed us toward a strategic organizational realignment,” said Welch.
TRANSFORMING FOR MODERNIZATION
Looking at its organizational structure, PEO leadership saw an opportunity to create an office that would synchronize efforts across the entire C3T portfolio, and connect with points outside the portfolio that are enabled by the Army network, such as Future Vertical Lift, the PEO for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors and the Next-Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team, among others. This new office will be PEO C3T’s primary interface with the Network Cross-Functional Team and will manage critical network modernization programs, including Capability Set 23, as well as the 6.4 funding stream.
Called the Project Lead for Interoperability, Integration and Services (PL I2S), the new office will play a key role in coordinating between the Army’s program offices that deliver tactical network capability and the Network Cross-Functional Team, while focusing on capability development that will support network interoperability, a major line of effort within the Army’s network modernization strategy.
Additionally, the new office will oversee the Army’s prototype budget for tactical network modernization projects, including the annual planning and execution of technology demonstrations, as well as Soldier touch-point events to capture user feedback.
Several PEO C3T project and product management offices have realigned to form PL I2S, including the Product Manager for Command Post Integrated Infrastructure, realigned from the Project Manager for Mission Command, and the Product Manager for Tactical Cyber and Network Operations, moving from the Project Manager for Tactical Network.
They are joined by one new office, the Product Lead for Capability Set Development (PDL CSD), which formally assigns staff and resources to manage technical integration in support of the Army’s desire to introduce significant new network capabilities every two years through capability sets—groupings of tactical network technologies that infuse the latest commercial solutions and Soldier feedback with each iteration. The new product office will work across the PEO’s project management offices to promote synergy in planning, execution and risk management, and will serve as a touch point for systems engineering, design and testing. PDL CSD is currently focused on Capability Set 23 experimentation planning in preparation for a preliminary design review in spring 2021.
Preceding the stand-up of PL I2S was the stand-down of the Project Lead for Network Enablers (PL Net E). Joining PL I2S from PL Net E are the Product Leads for Common Hardware Systems, the Army’s preferred source for procurement of commercial information technology hardware, and Tactical Network Initialization and Configuration, which delivers critical capabilities that ensure interoperability of digital systems and communication assets for current and future network architectures.
This combination of offices and the products and programs they support touches every line of effort in the network modernization strategy. “The stand-up of PL I2S is an opportunity to work hand in hand with developers, users and the Network Cross-Functional Team to achieve our mutual goal of delivering unmatched tactical network capabilities to the Army and our allies,” said Brig. Gen. Robert M. Collins, program executive officer for C3T. “The I2S team will ensure we have a single focal point with the Network [Cross-Functional Team] as we work toward not just an integrated tactical network within a tactical formation, but also how it connects back to the enterprise.”
Completing the organizational realignment is the Product Lead for Communications Security, which is moving from PL Net E to the Project Manager for Tactical Radios. The move better aligns the acquisition functions and the technical experts that provide radio key and cryptographic capability with the communication programs they support.
PARTNERING TO MODERNIZE THE NETWORK
The PEO’s new organizational structure became effective on July 10 with a ceremony to stand down PL Net E and stand up PL I2S. Since then, the new team has continued supporting current programs and warfighter exercises while actively engaging the Network Cross-Functional Team and other stakeholders on the development of Capability Set 23.
“Our mission is to deliver integrated tactical network capabilities to the Soldier that make their tasks easier, faster and more intuitive,” said J. Ward Roberts, who was selected to lead the stand-up and serve as the office’s first project lead.
Roberts sees PL I2S as a partner, integrator and facilitator. “By virtue of the products we support, we have a bird’s-eye view of the tactical network and all its stakeholders. If we can help make connections and facilitate conversations taking place, it will make it easier for the Army to deliver these capabilities; make them faster, cheaper and easier to use. That is our value proposition and how we will do business.”
Network Cross-Functional Team leadership agrees that, with its focus on interoperability, PL I2S has a critical role in ensuring capability set delivery. “The stand-up of this new project office clearly demonstrates the PEO’s commitment and alignment to our shared network modernization objectives,” said the Network Cross-Functional Team director, Maj. Gen. Peter A. Gallagher. “I look forward to teaming with the new PL to effectively execute our prototyping efforts, which are critical to informing capability set design goals and focused on ensuring the effective transition of S&T projects into programs of record. This new PL’s role is even more critical as we move into future capability sets and focus on platform integration of network requirements across all of the Army’s modernization priorities.”
KAREN DANFELT is a senior communication strategist for Booz Allen Hamilton supporting the Project Lead for Interoperability, Integration and Services. She has an MBA from Mount St. Mary’s University and a B.A. in communication (concentration in public relations) from the University of Maryland, College Park. She is a certified Project Management Professional and LaMarsh Global Change Agent.