Sunday, September 20, 2020

U.S. Army is working to develop new expeditionary command posts

The U.S. Army is working to design, develop, and field a new, cohesive expeditionary command post structure.

Currently, the Army achieved a significant milestone in its initiative to field expeditionary command posts by completing initial designs and launching the integration phase, according to a recent service news release.

The Army’s Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center — also known as the C5ISR Center — is leading the applied engineering and design of 12 integrated vehicle and shelter command post systems as part of a larger modernization effort across the service. This will create a new, cohesive command post structure with a reduced footprint in lieu of legacy, large tent-based command posts.

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The Command Post Integrated Infrastructure, or CPI2, program — managed by the Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications-Tactical under the Army’s command post network modernization line of effort — brings together dozens of C5ISR infrastructure components to provide flexibility, mobility and adaptability to move quickly and maintain continuity of operations.

“These new designs are aligned with the Army’s emphasis on speed and agility,” said Mark Miltenberger, a mechanical engineer in the C5ISR Prototype Integration Facility. “We began by learning how units use their command posts in all phases of operations and what their expeditionary needs are.”

The C5ISR Center iteratively developed the design through a series of three workshops, which began in March 2019, with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Product Manager CPI2. A key aspect of the program is to understand how Soldiers will implement their new mobile command posts under all phases of operations.

“It’s essential to have engineers and Soldiers work together during the process. Coordination and integration with the unit in the past year has been key to developing solutions to meet the Army’s intent,” Miltenberger said. “We’ve collected field-tested ideas.”

Photo by Dan Lafontaine

Large command posts encompass effective capabilities, but their large signatures make them more detectable. With the Army facing peer and near-peer adversaries, the service has a priority to develop technologies that balance effectiveness and survivability.

The designs incorporate a significant amount of C5ISR equipment, including network communications, mission-command hardware and software, power systems, radios, antennas, servers and computers, and heating and cooling units. Each component has complex interfaces, cabling, security requirements and power needs that must be taken into consideration.

The number and types of vehicles — including modifications to the standard Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles; Highly Mobile Multi-Wheeled Vehicles, or Humvees; an ultra-light all-terrain combat vehicle; and an ISO shelter — that will be components of the command post were also part of the experimentation process.

The PIF recently finished the review process for approving and finalizing designs with Product Manager CPI2. With engineering plans complete for modifying three types of vehicles, the C5ISR Center is now creating computer-aided design 3D models and drawings and will proceed to the fabrication and integration phases for producing a fully operational command post for the brigade.

“We’ve learned about the complexity of command posts,” Miltenberger said. “We’ve always focused on one vehicle, but now we’re interacting with every aspect through a holistic view. We need to understand the brigade’s existing equipment to develop a plan. We’re building for now, planning for the future.”

Photo by Dan Lafontaine

C5ISR PIF Division Chief Tom Brutofsky said the team is delivering timely solutions in less than a year through its core competencies of applied engineering, development, fabrication and testing.

“Our experience working on expeditionary command posts is enabling a rapid response to the Army’s needs,” Brutofsky said. “C5ISR Center personnel have the expertise to address the many challenges associated with integrating C5ISR systems from nearly 10 organizations across the Army into a single, agile command post.”

The first set of command post capabilities will transition to Product Manager CPI2 in June 2020 with fielding to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) scheduled for fiscal 2021.

Photo by Dan Lafontaine

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Executive Editor

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