ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (May 12, 2016) — What should a command post look like? Ask three different commanders and you’re likely to get three different answers — even if they’re in the same unit.
FORT BLISS, Texas (May 12, 2016) — During battlefield operations, a brigade’s fleet of Warfighter Information Network-Tactical network equipped vehicles are often spread out across great distances and austere terrain, supporting both stationary command posts and on-the-move missions. Newly enhanced and simplified Network Operations tools will make it easier for communications officers (S6s/G6s) to see the “big picture” as they plan, manage and defend the vast tactical mission command network, increasing its security and strength.
Examining the relationship between emerging technological capabilities for land forces and identifying priorities in Army organizations, training and materiel development was discussed during the recent Global Force Symposium at Huntsville, Ala.
Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center, led the discussion with other senior Army leaders and subject matters experts on the Institute of Land Warfare panel.
The other panel participants included Maj. Gen. William Hix, director for Strategy, Plans and Policy at the U.S. Army G3/5/7; Maj. Gen. John Wharton, commanding general of U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command; Dr. Conrad Crane, chief of Historical Services at the Army Heritage and Education Center; and Dr. Nadia Schadlow, senior program officer at the Smith Richardson Foundation.
McMaster opened the panel outlining the important relationship between capability and capacity today and in the near future, describing two fundamental factors contributing to increased risk to national security.
“The relationship between capability and capacity is changing. The trend since WWI has been that technology has allowed smaller and smaller combat forces to have greater and greater effects on the battlefield. What we are seeing now is a shift in that because of the ease of technology transfer to our enemies. Disruptive enemy capabilities are now challenging what had been our differential advantages in close combat and in combat as a joint force,” McMaster said. As enemy technological advances increasingly place U.S. superiority at risk, McMaster explained capacity must be maintained or increased while capabilities are pursued.
“The United States military needs joint teams ready to fight tonight,” McMaster said. “Since World War II, the prosperity and security of the United States has depended, in large measure, on the synergistic effects of capable land, air and maritime forces.”
U.S. defense strategy requires ready land forces (Army, Marine Corps, and Special Operations) capable of operating as part of joint teams, in sufficient scale and for ample duration to prevent conflict, shape security environments, and create multiple options for responding to and resolving crises.
“The size of the Army matters no matter what future capabilities are developed. The human and political nature of war will require landpower to achieve sustainable outcomes,” McMaster said.
According to McMaster, the Army must develop capabilities now in order to cope with an increase in adversary capabilities. As the nation’s principal land force, the U.S. Army organizes, trains and equips forces for prompt and sustained combat. Army forces are necessary to defeat enemy organizations, control terrain, secure populations, consolidate gains and preserve joint force freedom of movement and action. Forward positioned and regionally engaged Army forces build partner capability, assure allies and deter adversaries.
Crane from the Army History and Heritage Center, reiterated the necessity of a resilient and trained force.
“In order to provide a unified vision for force development, intellectual readiness should precede material innovation,” he said. “We are likely to always be surprised technologically by adversary innovation, therefore our force must be resilient enough to survive this surprise, and agile enough to develop counters quickly to take the advantage away from enemies.”
In describing the future operating environment, Hix highlighted three main trends he expects will place increased stress on our Army. Those trends are:
- more capable adversaries will emerge, including near peers or proxy forces;
- expected increased instability;
- expected rise in great powers;
Hix emphasized the Army’s need to integrate materiel and non-materiel solutions to ensure forces are postured to meet the challenges of the future operating environment.
Schadlow provided her perspectives on the central relationship between capacity, and the ability of the force to control territory through the consolidation of gains after a successful campaign.
“Without the ability to consolidate gains, campaign success may become meaningless,” Schadlow said. She proposed two questions for the audience to consider that need to be addressed, if the future force expects to control territory and consolidate gains.
- How does technology advance the ability to control territory and consolidate gains?
- What is the result of the current strategic ambivalence over the need for the Army to control territory, and the resulting impact on Army capacity?
The American military uses technology better than anyone else, which is seen as the nation’s biggest asymmetric advantage. However, as Wharton emphasized, there are no technological “silver bullets.” Technology must be integrated into concepts, to be truly disruptive, and allow the force to gain advantages over the enemy.
Visit TRADOC’s Youtube channel to view the full-length video of this discussion.
FORT BLISS, Texas (March 10, 2016) — Before Soldiers can evaluate the latest version of the Army’s on-the-move communications network this spring, hundreds of Army tactical vehicles are receiving technological upgrades within the Integration Motor Pool at Fort Bliss, Texas.
Preparation for the Network Integration Evaluation 16.2, also referred to as NIE, is in full swing. NIEs and Army Warfighting Assessments (AWAs) are complementary events designated to continually assess and rapidly improve the Army’s communications network — including systems that reside on tactical vehicles so Soldiers can stay connected as they cover vast distances and challenging terrain.
Engineers, technicians and Soldiers work together to accomplish the technological upgrades on vehicles in two phases. The first phase is the Golden Vehicle Build, which was completed in February and consists of creating unique prototype vehicles that carry the specific systems to be evaluated in each NIE or AWA event. The second phase is the Fleet Build, when the Golden Vehicle prototypes are utilized as the physical blueprint for the rest of the fleet.
“The ability to configure hundreds of vehicles for NIE and AWA within a few weeks is accomplished with vast preparations and a great team,” said Col. Terrece Harris, director, Capability Package. “Not only do we do this in a short span of time, but we also do this twice a year. It may be tough but we keep in mind our mission is to get this equipment into the hands of our Soldiers.”
The Capability Package Directorate, known as CPD, is responsible for integrating network equipment onto the vehicles utilized during NIE and AWA. It is part of the Army’s System of Systems Engineering and Integration Directorate, which executes the NIEs and synchronized fielding for the network Capability Sets that are proven during the events.
Participating NIE vehicles, equipment and systems are delivered to Fort Bliss from organizations nationwide that support Army modernization. CPD brings all the efforts together by integrating platforms with communications systems, thus making them functional for the NIE’s array of operational tests, evaluations, risk reduction events and demonstrations.
“Without vehicles and associated equipment, there is no NIE,” said Bob Rivas, chief of CPD’s System Integration Division. “We build, install, and integrate all the systems onto platforms that are going to be in the field for Soldiers to operate.”
Preparing such a large number of vehicles requires a detailed schedule and logistics plan — and the ability to adjust both on the fly.
“You need to make sure you have all the vehicles in place, the metal needed to install each system, all the cables, associated hardware, the systems themselves, and most of all you need to have flexibility,” Rivas said.
While the vehicles are being integrated, Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division learn how to operate the technologies through New Equipment Training, or NET. Multiple classes are provided by Program Executive Offices, Project Managers and industry representatives to instruct Soldiers on how to use their equipment. Once the vehicles are built, users get additional hands-on training and reinforcement to prepare them for operational evaluations.
“Once Fleet Build comes to completion, Soldiers are able to utilize the equipment hands-on,” explained Mario Hernandez, lead training specialist for CPD. “Since the technology is new, continuous training and reinforcement is necessary to ensure our Soldiers are familiar with using the equipment, and so they become more proficient before going to test.”
Training is a joint effort between acquisition organizations and the Brigade Modernization Command. Together they determine which Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) need to be trained on each system, to best maximize the proficiencies of Soldiers. Bringing Army and industry instructors and Soldiers together allows for more feedback, informing the development of the technology from an experienced Soldier’s perspective.
Continuously assessing technology with Soldier feedback has become crucial to modernization efforts, which is why the spring NIEs will focus on formal evaluations, while the fall AWAs will have a more experimental environment to shape concepts and requirements.
Photo caption: Wrapping up their day, Capability Package Directorate technicians work on installing equipment onto a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle during the Network Integration Evaluation 16.2 Fleet Build. U.S. Army Photo by: Vanessa Flores, U.S. Army