WASHINGTON — Congress granted partial funding for an Army tactical network program to modernize command posts after the effort hit delays.

In the earlier House version the fiscal 2021 budget bill, lawmakers proposed eliminating funds for the program, called Command Post Integrated Infrastructure (CPI2), citing the request as “ahead of need.” In the final compromise, which President Donald Trump still has to sign, lawmakers opted to give the program $23 million of about $50 million requested by the Army Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T), the modernization team’s acquisition arm.

Paul Mehney, communications director for that acquisitions office, said the program’s schedule changed “due to delivery timelines of the prototypes” and the “testing timelines for brigade combat teams and division headquarters.”

The $23 million will allow the Army to procure the vehicle platforms and hardware kits that will support fielding of CPI2 capabilities to three brigade combat teams in the future, Mehney said. The Army is currently working on integration and design with two brigade combat teams: the 3rd Infantry Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division, 2nd Stryker Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division.

In the coming year, the program office plans to hold tests with the two brigade combat teams to evaluate the integration of command post network, power systems and other capabilities on light tactical vehicles and Humvees, Mehney said.

“The focus of the assessments will be on integration and design, not the vehicle platforms themselves,” Mehney said. “The evaluations will inform integration design decisions for the additional three brigade sets.”

The PEO C3T acquisitions office and the Army Network Cross-Functional Team lead the effort to modernize the tactical network through capability sets, new suites of network tools delivered to soldiers every two years. CPI2 will be fully delivered as part of Capability Set ’23.

CPI2 is part of the tactical network’s fourth line of effort focused on preparing command posts for future wars. The Army wants to make its posts increasingly mobile and more able to survive, ensuring they have standardized systems and platforms. Current command posts are vulnerable because of their size, limited mobility and differing systems.

PEO C3T is also working on CPI2 with 4th Infantry Division headquarters.

Soldier assessment and operational testing with the two brigade combat teams will occur in fiscal 2021 to inform a production and deployment decision in late the budget year 2021, Mehney said. Testing for the 4th Infantry Division’s headquarters will occur in early fiscal 2022.

CPI2 includes four efforts to strengthen the command post. The mission command platform digitally connects workstations at command posts, as well as groups at the corps, division and brigade combat team level. The command post support vehicle hosts mission command servers and other network and communication hardware. CPI2 is also developing a suite of software tools called the Integrated Support System that will increase situational awareness in the command post. Finally, the CPI2 effort incudes the Mobile Command Group platform, which supports corps or division commanders with digital workspaces that enable quick setup or tear down, increasing mobility.

The $27 million that Congress cut, Mehney said, was for integration of the CPI2. Integration design decisions will be informed by the soldier touch points and operational assessments in fiscal 2021 and will be decided in late 2021. The program office, Mehney said, will then look at FY22 to complete integration with the three additional brigade combat teams.

Andrew Eversden covers all things defense technology for C4ISRNET. He previously reported on federal IT and cybersecurity for Federal Times and Fifth Domain, and worked as a congressional reporting fellow for the Texas Tribune. He was also a Washington intern for the Durango Herald. Andrew is a graduate of American University.

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