As the Army moves forward with its multipronged network modernization, the branch has set its sights on servicewide communications capabilities integrated from top brass down to the smallest tactical units.
Army leaders expressed the need for technologies to enable units’ communication from the tip of the spear down to systems in vehicles and at command units.
“The ‘integrated’ part of ‘integrated tactical network’ is making sure we don’t field a set of stovepiped capabilities that do not provide the robust capability that we think we want for the future fight,” Maj. Gen. David Bassett, program executive officer for Command, Control, Communications-Tactical, told C4ISRNET.
“We’ve got to field this as an integrated capability. It’s not just about focusing on one piece or the other. We’ve got to work it all together along with network operations tools that help soldiers employ those system.”
The Army’s integrated tactical network (ITN) is described as a mix of existing programs of record and commercial off-the-shelf capabilities that allow a unit to communicate in congested environments and provide situational awareness. The network also feeds into programs such as the Command Post Computing Environment (CPCE).
CPCE is a web-enabled system that will consolidate disparate command post tools, programs and tasks and help the Army to react faster than the enemy. This includes the Tactical Ground Reporting System (TIGR), Global Command and Control System-Army (GCCS-A), Command Web and Command Post of the Future (CPOF).
This uniform interface will be available from the command post to ground vehicles to dismounted soldiers, allowing each to upload and share information in a centralized database.
During exercises last year, soldiers worked through how to identify targets on the ground and pass that information through the network via vest-mounted tablets and a Google Maps-type function.
“Target acquisition from an operator’s perspective starts in the ITN. Then it will make its way eventually to CPCE if we can get the ITN and CPCE to talk to each other, which is definitely the next bridge line for these systems,” Maj. John Intile, executive officer for 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, told C4ISRNET during a battalion event at Camp Atterbury, Indiana.
The Army’s fire support Command and Control (C2) system, Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS), is slated to be incorporated in CPCE after the first round of aforementioned systems.
“While the integrated tactical network in our first line of effort is focused on the lower echelon war-fighting units, the Command Post Computing Environment … is really done at the corps and down trace units,” Maj. Gen. Peter Gallagher, director for the network cross-functional team, told C4ISRNET.
Learn more about the Army’s progress improving current network offerings in our eBook “Understanding the Army’s Integrated Tactical Network.”