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Interview: Col. Ed Swanson, Army WIN-T

Army Project Manager, Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical

Sep. 4, 2013 - 03:45AM   |  
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Col. Ed Swanson, Army Project Manager, Warfighter Information Network-Tactical
Col. Ed Swanson, Army Project Manager, Warfighter Information Network-Tactical ()
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The Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) program brings an on-the-move, non-line-of-sight communications capability to the Army. After many years of program reorganization and development, WIN-T is now being deployed with its first two Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs). For an update on the program, WIN-T Project Manager Col. Ed Swanson responded to written questions from C4ISR & Networks Editor Barry Rosenberg.

C4ISRNET: How is sequestration affecting PM WIN-T?

SWANSON: Sequestration is certainly having an impact on our ability to support operational forces and field new capabilities. Funding shortfalls are affecting the reset of redeploying WIN-T Increment 1 and CPS&I [Command Post Systems and Integration] equipment and software support. Furloughs of the civilian workforce are also affecting the PMís ability to meet mission requirements.

If sequestration remains in place beyond this fiscal year, it could result in breaks in production, fielding and development efforts. This would delay getting much-needed capabilities into the hands of soldiers and may cause significant programmatic cost growth. It could also affect our industry partnersí ability to retain the expertise and talent required to develop and support many of the WIN-T products.

Despite the significant fiscal restraints and reductions in resources, PM WIN-T will continue to balance mission requirements and taking care of the workforce. Our number one priority remains to support deployed and deploying forces. One area we will not compromise is the quality of support PM WIN-T provides to our customers, especially those supporting contingency operations at home and around the world.

C4ISRNET: What is the current status of WIN-T Increment 2, which provides the initial on-the-move capability for Army BCTs?

SWANSON: WIN-T Increment 2 is a completely mobile network, supporting increased operational tempo and enabling mission command on-the-move. These capabilities support the full range of military operations. WIN-T Increment 2 also extends the WIN-T network to the company level for the first time, providing access to the wide-area network at lower echelons. |WIN-T Increment 2 introduces self-forming/self-healing high capacity networking radios to the architecture and enhances network operations, a suite of integrated monitoring tools used to command and control the network. WIN-T Increment 2 is an essential part of the Armyís tactical network modernization strategy and one of its highest priorities.

WIN-T Increment 2 is being fielded to the Army at a critical time. This will be important in Afghanistan, where the coalition forcesí footprint is shrinking and many of the forward operating bases and fixed sites used to access the network are being shut down. WIN-T Increment 2 will fill the gap and is being fielded to select BCTs that have deployed and are preparing for possible deployment to Afghanistan. These BCTs will serve as Security Forces Advise and Assist Teams, whose mission is to work with the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to improve their capability and help the ANSF take on increasing responsibility for the security of their country. As our forces become more dispersed and mobile in conducting these types of operations, they will rely on WIN-T Increment 2 for critical reach-back communications.

As for the status of the program, the Army began fielding |WIN-T Increment 2 in October 2012 with two BCTs: the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (3/10) at Fort Drum, N.Y.; and the 4th BCT, 10th Mountain Division (4/10) at Fort Polk, La. The units have completed their Capability Set (CS) 13 new equipment training and new equipment fielding. 4/10 is deployed to Afghanistan with these advanced capabilities, while 3/10 continues preparing for potential deployment. Two BCTs from the 101st Air Assault Division at Fort Campbell, Ky., are also being fielded these advanced capabilities this fiscal year.

WIN-T Increment 2 underwent a Follow-on Operational |Test and Evaluation (FOT&E) in May 2013 and a full-rate |production decision is scheduled for September 2013. Future fieldings of WIN-T Increment 2 will continue to support the Armyís capability set fielding strategy that is aligned with |network modernization and ensures that divisions and BCTs |are provided with the best tactical communications capabilities available.

C4ISRNET: Discuss the WIN-T Increment 2 FOT&E and its significance to the program.

SWANSON: In May 2012, the WIN-T Increment 2 Initial Operational Test & Evaluation (IOT&E) was conducted in conjunction with Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 12.2 at Fort Bliss, Texas, and White Sands Missile Range, N.M. The IOT&E was the largest tactical network test ever conducted and involved more than 4,000 soldiers executing the full range of military operations over a geographic area of 2,000 miles. Though WIN-T Increment |2 performed well and was assessed as effective, suitable and |survivable by the Army Test and Evaluation Command, the Defense Acquisition Executive directed additional testing be conducted to address a number of areas. As a result, WIN-T Increment 2 conducted a focused Follow-on Operational Test and Evaluation in conjunction with NIE 13.2.

The IOT&E validated that WIN-T Increment 2 provides a significant increase in capability beyond what units have today with WIN-T Increment 1 (at-the-halt communications). PM WIN-T is a strong advocate of the test-learn-improve model. Many lessons learned from the IOT&E have resulted in applying numerous improvements to WIN-T Increment 2 training, hardware and software. Some of the key focus areas involved system and component reliability improvements, modifications to the WIN-T Increment 2 Soldier Network Extension (SNE) concept of operations, and better integrating the line-of-sight radios and the satellite |terminals capabilities.

C4ISRNET: What is the role of WIN-T Increment 2 in Capability Set 13 fielding?

SWANSON: CS 13 is the first of these fully-integrated network packages, which include combat net radios, satellite terminals, mission command applications, smartphone-like devices and other network components that provide connectivity from the tactical edge to higher echelon command posts. WIN-T Increment 2 is the tactical network backbone that provides both on-the-move and at-the-halt communications from division to company level.

Prior to fielding to the 10th Mountain Division, CS 13 was validated through the Armyís NIE process. The semi-annual field exercises involve 3,800 Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division (2/1 AD), who use networked equipment as they execute mission threads across the full range of operations in the challenging terrain of White Sands Missile Range, N.M. The NIEs were used to integrate the CS 13 network and verify its performance prior to fielding. The NIE also provides early and continuous soldier feedback that is incorporated into vehicle designs, handheld device configurations, software features and other elements of the capability set. By the time the equipment reached the 3/10 and 4/10 BCTs, it had been thoroughly tested, validated and was ready for operational use. As part of CS 13, WIN-T Increment 2 will evolve and improve how the Army operates on the battlefield.

C4ISRNET: WIN-T Increment 3 brings an unmanned aerial system into the mix. What is the status of Increment 3?

SWANSON: WIN-T Increment 3 will add an aerial tier to the existing two-tier, space and terrestrial WIN-T architecture. A WIN-T Communications Payload (WCP) will be integrated onto the Gray Eagle unmanned aerial system platform to thicken the network, providing a substantial increase in capacity and improving reliability. The aerial tier will also off load network traffic from resource-limited satellites, improving cost effectiveness and reducing latency.

WIN-T Increment 3 continues developmental testing on the Joint Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (JC4ISR) radio. The radio dramatically increases throughput capacity and extends communications ranges. It provides a dual-channel capability that adds operational flexibility for both ground and air operations. It is an important component of WIN-T Increment 3 and will be integrated into the WCP as part of the aerial tier.

Increment 3 also continues to mature and build upon the proven WIN-T Increment 2 netops capabilities to plan, manage, fight, and defend the network. Netops allows the unit signal officer to support and execute the commanderís intent across the full range of military operations and to command and control the network.

WIN-T Increment 3 is no longer just a concept. Both hardware and software are being developed, integrated, and tested in realistic environments. A prototype WCP was flown and operated on a surrogate aircraft last year. The Increment 3 program will have a new Follow-on Engineering, Manufacturing, and Development Contract in place this year to complete the system critical design review. Increment 3 is on track to deliver critical capabilities that take the WIN-T network to the next level.

C4ISRNET: Within PM WIN-T you also have responsibility for tactical satellite communications and command post infrastructure. Please bring me up to date on those additional programs within the PM.

SWANSON: The product manager (PdM) for satellite communications provides a wide variety of beyond line-of-sight capabilities to the Army and other users. Some the products include the quad-band Phoenix terminals; the only protected satellite terminals, SMART-T; Global Broadcast System terminals; and a number of commercial satellite terminals providing support to Operation Enduring Freedom and global contingency operations. These satellite capabilities provide the Army, sister services and other government agencies with assured and reliable communications worldwide using both military and commercial satellite constellations.

In the first quarter of fiscal year 2013, PdM Satcom, in conjunction with the Army Acquisition Command, awarded the indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity Global Tactical Advanced Communications Systems (GTACS) contract, which has a $10 billion ceiling and provides one-stop shopping for a very broad range of equipment and services. GTACS will enable the Army, Department of Defense and other agencies to more responsively meet a wider range of requirements worldwide.

PdM Command Post Systems and Integration (CPS&I) continues to field the Armyís Standard Integrated Command Post System and provide mission command system integration training support to CS 13 unit fielding and training, and to play a key role in NIE events. As part of CS 13, PdM CPS&I completed the design and integration of 42 company command post (CoCP) pre-deployment training sets. The CoCP training sets, which mirror CoCP equipment in theater, are now being used by BCTs to train company commanders and designated personnel on command post operations in preparation for possible deployment.

Last year, the product director for Common Hardware Systems (PD CHS) was moved under PM WIN-T. The CHS program has been providing state-of-the-art computer and networking equipment for the battlefield since 1987. PD CHS develops and provides solutions that satisfy requirements of multiple PEOs and PMs, simplifying life cycle management. It implements large consolidated buys and economies of scale to reduce cost and accelerate procurement.

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