The Army is looking to better organize its network posture and outlook by consolidating a variety of programs and portfolios into one.
The new office is called Project Manager Tactical Networks, renamed from Project Manager Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) after an organizational review, Col. Greg Coile, project manager for Tactical Networks, said Oct. 9 during an interview with C4ISRNET on the show floor at the annual Association of the United States Army conference.
One reason for the name change, Coile said, was that as programs move through the life cycle, they enter into sustainment and there’s less work needed from the program office. Moreover, as the Army looked holistically at their network portfolio they had two programs for WIN-T and there were 35 that were doing other capabilities in the “WIN-T” portfolio, leading them to consolidate those programs under one project manage.
Within this change, the Army consolidated WIN-T Increment 1 and Increment 2 into “mission networks,” stood up the signal modernization program as the network modernization program office, and are now taking a one network view as opposed to specific, siloed programs.
Regarding specific programs and deliverables, Coile provided a few details regarding fielding milestones across his portfolio. They recently completed the initial operational capability for en route communications that provide soldiers on the way to mission objective — aboard C-17 aircraft, for example — the ability to reach back to home station and connectivity from plane to plane.
They also recently went through an operational test for Transportable Tactical Command Communications, or T2C2, the Army’s early entry capability. This will provide small expeditionary soldiers a mission command kit to connect and communicate without a large footprint needed — a critical component for the expeditionary direction the Army has identified will be necessary against peer adversaries in future operational environments.
Part of enabling this expeditionary capability will involve shrinking the amount of systems and hardware that enable communications. Todd Levine, director for tactical networks at General Dynamics Mission Systems, speaking with C4ISRNET on the show floor at AUSA, explained that the Tactical Communications Node-Lite they are providing to the Army has roughly 50 percent less while still providing all the necessary capabilities.
Through leveraging commercial technologies and virtualization, hardware can be replaced with software solutions lightening the overall physical load.
Coile noted how the Army has transitioned the TCN from a 5-ton vehicle to a Humvee, which not only reduces the ability to deploy this capability that supports battalion, brigade, division and corps command posts.
The Army is also examining how to make the network harder from a cyber vulnerability perspective, as well as more resilient. One way they’re doing this is by thickening the network, Coile explained, which involves increasing the number of line of sight and beyond line of sight nodes.
From a resiliency perspective, Levine said General Dynamics is importing early assured position, navigation and timing technologies to their TCN platform to make it more resilient in environments where GPS might be denied.
“With anti-jam antennas and alternate GPS capabilities, it’s a convenient way to overlay those things onto the network,” he said.