The Army wants to modernize its command posts to ensure they survive future conflicts and don’t become an easy target for enemies.
Army leaders believe the big, largely static command posts used in the last 16 years have electromagnetic and power signatures that can be too easily targeted by advanced adversaries.
“In the future, we predict command posts will have to move every 30 to 60 minutes to be survivable,” Maj. Gen. John Morrison, commander of the Cyber Center of Excellence, said during the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual meeting in October. “We’ve already seen what’s happened over in Europe. Those command posts that did not move rapidly were targeted through non-kinetic and then eventually very, very kinetic long range precision fires and the casualties were catastrophic.”
After years of study and some independent initiatives undertaken by units, the Army issued a directed requirement in December 2017 that begins looking for a solution. Formally, Army leaders are seeking command post integration and capability solutions under an effort called Command Post Integrated Infrastructure, or CPI2.
This effort, which will take place in three phases, seeks to ensure disparate communications and mission command are integrated.
The directed requirement’s first two phases will work to inform the program of record – phase three – “so that we can ensure we’re giving the soldier what they really want,” Kim Reid, product director for Strategic Mission Command, told C4ISRNET in an interview.
Operational units are now actively engaged in determining what the actual program of record will look like at the end, Reid said.
Understanding the phases
In the first phase certain units were selected and provided mission command platforms and information systems as to enable them to rapidly integrate these items.
PM Mission Command will take the lead in phase 2, which will include integration and prototyping for five brigade sets of solutions, Reid said. The first user equip date will be fiscal year 2020 with the rest of the brigade combat teams fielded in fiscal year 2021, she said.
These first two phases are “what’s going to inform us as to what the different echelons will ultimately look like,” Reid said.
The key difference between phase one to phase two from an operational perspective, she said, is that phase two will also provide the mobile command post solutions at the battalion level and leverage the fielding of new platforms such as Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.
One of the goals is to standardize the designs to the maximum extent possible but still accounting for network mission command architecture differences that may exist between the various types of units.
“Phase one we’ll see different units integrating their command posts in slightly different ways to keep that standardized and then we’ll, all those lessons learned we’ll roll into phase two and then phase three for a more refined product for the soldiers,” Tyler Barton, project lead for expeditionary command post capabilities at the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, told C4ISRNET.
CERDEC has played an early role in this effort – dating back to fiscal year 2015 being assigned to the Army’s command post strategy – in performing command post demonstrators. Barton explained that it was noted by the architects of the Army’s directed requirement that CERDEC has designed and developed conceptual demonstrators that are very similar to what the DR phase one is calling for.
CERDEC has provided engineers to help consult with the units that are integrating their command posts in order to transfer the lessons learned and overall knowledge they’ve accumulated over the last few years.
Integration is necessary
Integration will be the key to the program’s success.
Reid said there is going to have to be close work with the other PEOs, program offices and material developers as they look to integrate platforms – such as Strykers, JLTVs – and mission command systems – such as radios, secure Wi-Fi and other communications gear.
“We’ve got a rudimentary framework right now of what’s going to have to be integrated,” Cris Boyd, project support lead for Reid, said.
Enabling the warfighter
Ultimately, this effort is seeking to inform the program of record, ensuring the Army gets it right for operational units.
Leaders don’t want to provide an agile solution with mobile communications capability and connectivity that doesn’t hinder a commander’s maneuverability.
“What the Army is really getting after is they want an expeditionary adaptable and agile command post so it can work across a whole range of military operations,” Boyd said.
Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.