Maj. Gen. Robert S. Ferrell, commanding general, Army Communications-Electronics Command (Army)
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The Army has been involved in persistent combat for more than 12 years. Throughout this time, C4ISR systems have enabled communications across the spectrum of conflict, improved information sharing and provided persistent surveillance and force protection for our globally deployed war fighters.
Today, we are entering an era when the role, mission and capabilities of C4ISR have never been more critical to the Army and joint force of 2020 and beyond. In fact, C4ISR capabilities are now a “center of gravity” across the full range of joint operations. There is an unprecedented demand for new technology and communication platforms that provide scalable, global, space and terrestrial-based, full-spectrum access to information across every phase of an operation. Our operational commanders’ appetites for C4ISR are constantly growing, and war fighters bring high expectations for levels of information technology support.
As we prepare to sustain and operate the C4ISR systems required on the future battlefield, we also confront an era of reduced resources and personnel drawdowns. Given all of the above, there has never been a time of faster change or greater challenge and opportunity for the C4ISR community.
During the last decade of war, the Army’s Communications-Electronics Command, a major subordinate command of the Army Materiel Command, has served as a critical link in providing C4ISR sustainment support and ensuring high levels of systems readiness and availability for our Army and joint forces. CECOM’s mission is to develop, provide, integrate and sustain the logistics and readiness of C4ISR systems and mission command capabilities for joint, interagency and multi-national forces worldwide. The command is composed of five major subordinate elements:
Tobyhanna Army Depot, Tobyhanna, Pa. — A joint-focused C4ISR organic industrial base resource for DoD, Tobyhanna provides maintenance, manufacturing, integration and field repair to C4ISR systems worldwide at the depot and via forward repair activities.
Logistics and Readiness Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. — Provides integrated global logistics support for C4ISR systems and equipment. LRC employs rapid acquisition approaches to ensure maintenance, production, fielding, new equipment training, operations and sustainment of equipment to meet the Army’s Reset and Readiness goals in support of Army, joint and coalition forces.
Software Engineering Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. — Provides life cycle software solutions for C4ISR software and hardware systems on the battlefield. SEC develops and maintains software business applications to ensure soldiers are fed, housed, moved and supplied. SEC executes software depot maintenance of software-intensive systems to ensure interoperability of fielded systems with emerging capabilities to mitigate cyber threats.
Central Technical Support Facility, Fort Hood, Texas — The Army’s test, integration and certification testing facility for the Army LandWarNet/mission command systems provides C4ISR configuration management, system of systems integration and interoperability certification testing.
Information Systems Engineering Command, Fort Huachuca, Ariz. — Provides systems engineering, installation, integration and evaluation support for communications and information technology systems in support of the war fighter. ISEC also supports the Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems in upgrading the IT infrastructure at Army posts, camps and stations; upgrades command centers; and is modernizing IT infrastructure throughout the Army.
CECOM’s subordinate commands have deployed soldiers and civilians across the globe and have forward elements located at the Army’s major hubs that provide C4ISR sustainment to our operational commanders and units. Although CECOM can look back over the last 12 years with pride in the accomplishment of a demanding and difficult mission, the next decade will be marked by a number of key challenges that will necessitate that CECOM reassess the way it delivers its core mission capabilities. Regional alignment of CECOM’s support will be the key as we posture ourselves for the withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan — a mission of historic size and significance. The retrograde of equipment from theater not only demands extraordinary levels of property accountability, but also new concepts for shifting C4ISR systems to sustainment at our posts, camps and stations.
This complex operational environment requires a regionally aligned, robust, ready, responsive and networked Army. As a result, CECOM must optimize and regionally align itself to support our operational forces to remain the critical link able to provide tailorable C4ISR sustainment support.
To better fulfill our role as the critical link in C4ISR sustainment and to help our command prepare for a new era, CECOM has developed a new campaign plan that identifies several key initiatives that will set conditions for our future success:
■ We will develop life cycle sustainment for the Army’s new network while integrating the latest C4ISR technology advancements.
■ We will apply lean processes for our software sustainment model that improve business practices while reducing total life cycle costs.
■ Working with the Army Staff and Army Materiel Command, we will help replace older IT systems by eliminating obsolete equipment.
■ We will support the cost-effective modernization of IT infrastructure at our camps, posts and stations.
Moreover, many elements across our Army will be engaged in a “back to basics” effort to re-energize soldier and civilian knowledge of the foundational skills that support mission success. In the coming era of reduced funding and contractor support, our soldiers and Army civilians will require the training and expertise needed to perform installation, operation and maintenance functions for our C4ISR systems. Fortunately, CECOM operates Signal Universities at key Army locations in Afghanistan and eight posts in the U.S. These universities provide updated training in IT certifications, as well as courses unique to the needs of local operational commanders.
The Critical Link
Despite the challenges, opportunities and changes we now confront, I have never been more confident in the future of our CECOM and C4ISR team. After the last 12 years, our C4ISR community now has the most experienced officers, NCOs and civilians in our history. Further, our CECOM team has built effective partnerships with our C4ISR program executive officers; program managers; research, development and engineering community; and with industry that have developed and sustained world-class C4ISR capabilities for our joint war fighters.
By using the talent and skill of these proven professionals and through the execution of a campaign plan that addresses our future challenges, CECOM is well-positioned to remain the critical link that will keep our C4ISR systems sustained and ready in the coming decade. To learn more about CECOM’s campaign plan and how our command is organizing for a new era, visit our website, where we will be posting the latest information on our operations and key topics of interest to our stakeholders across the C4ISR community.
Maj. Gen. Robert S. Ferrell is the commanding general, Communications-Electronics Command, an organization of more than 11,000 military and civilian personnel responsible for coordinating, integrating and synchronizing the life-cycle management of C4ISR systems for all of the Army’s battlefield mission areas.