One area the Army continues to explore is building greater simplicity into communications systems. This is especially true as it is looking at fighting in more complex, contested and congested environments against near-peer adversaries in a multi-domain battle scenario.

“One of the things I put out there as a need, I don’t think we do a very good job in putting constraints up front on simplifying the systems that we build,” Gary Martin, Program Executive Officer for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, said during a panel discussion at TechNet Augusta Aug. 9.

Top Army leaders acknowledge that in future operating environments, soldiers will not have the benefit of large logistical support tails with contractors that can operate equipment for them. Soldiers will have to stand up networks and communications systems themselves, which means they have to be simple.

Martin noted that the Sergeant Major of the Army came to Aberdeen Proving Ground last week, the home of PEO-C3T, and his comment was any system in the IT arena that is general purpose and requires either a manual or training simply shouldn’t be bought. Acknowledging that might be an extreme and maybe impossible to do, Martin asked, “but why shouldn’t that be the goal?”

Who has ever gone to a class for an iPhone or Samsung device, Martin asked the audience rhetorically.

The same can be said for sensors in the field. “As we build these sensors, as we build these capabilities, the complexity increases,” Mark Kitz, director of System of Systems Engineering Program Executive Office for Intelligence, EW and Sensors, said during the same panel. “It’s hard to deal with because if the environment is very complex, you typically need complex solutions to solve that complexity.”

This complexity is not only a burden for the soldiers in the field operating them, but it is also a burden for sustainers and maintainers that have to work on them for the next forty years as the Army looks to keep programs of record around for several decades.

“How we build those sensors and systems, we need to reduce that cognitive burden and the burden on the sustainers long term,” Kitz said.