Col. Jonas Vogelhut, PM, Mission Command and Col. Charles Wells, PM, DCGS-A ()
The Command Post Computing Environment is about creating a common operational picture via a web-based environment where soldiers can access applications for all war-fighting functions, including intelligence, on a single screen. It’s a joint effort between Project Manager DCGS-A from PEO IEW&S and Project Manager Mission Command from PEO C3T. C4ISR & Networks Editor Barry Rosenberg spoke jointly with the PMs leading the effort.
Rosenberg: With the Command Post Computing Environment, what was the issue you wanted to overcome?
WELLS: If you wanted to share data you had to have a data bridge (via a separate server) from the intelligence side to mission command and into the Command Post of the Future so you could see the red picture (the intelligence picture of the enemy, as well as weather, topography, and geospatial intelligence). There are some inherent inefficiencies in that because it’s going to take more time and require extra resources to build that data bridge.
The paradigm shift with the CP CE is looking from the outset at a commonality in terms of data, hardware, and software. So when you walk into a command post you no longer see a separate hardware and software stack that only does intel and a separate hardware and software stack that only does mission command. You’re looking at a consolidated system.
Now you’re really going to have a seamless, common operational picture without the clunky interchange between two separate systems. But what’s just as compelling is there are great efficiencies in doing that in our current resource environment.
It’s got complete support from Army leadership, including Ms. Heidi Shyu, the Army acquisition executive, and we’re excited about the progress we’ve made to date.
VOGELHUT: One of the things that CP CE does within the common operating environment is the idea of simplification of the command post. We have a lot of great systems in the command post, and we’ve done our own efforts to collapse them internally, but it still takes a long time to set up and operate for the leaders there, in addition to all the other tasks they have to do. So having this shared environment for computing and the apps that run on top of them provides simplification not only for the operator but for the unit-level maintainer, whether that is an intelligence or signal soldier.
Rosenberg: Would this be considered an element of the Joint Information Environment?
VOGELHUT: We agree that this is for both the JIE and intelligence community, so we’re a subset of both.
Rosenberg: What initial capabilities do you have with the CP CE, and where is it going next?
WELLS: We’ve provided an initial capability through the Ozone Widget Framework. This is a framework that on the intelligence side we leveraged from some of the work done by NSA. Through this Ozone Widget Framework, it works completely through a web browser, so rather than having thick-client software where you have to install intel-specific client software and mission command-specific software, we’ve been able to build these widgets within the Ozone Widget Framework that are completely accessible through a Firefox web browser. That capability opens up the framework so you can have both intelligence and mission command capabilities side by side.
We have not worked that way in the past; we’ve developed our own thick-client solutions. Now we’ve looked at this next technology with thin-client capability and common framework, and both DCGS-A and Mission Command have built widgets within that framework.
VOGELHUT: We also understand the history of software and large projects within the Army, and so we’re not trying to bite off more than, one, we can accomplish technologically, and, second, afford funding-wise. So we laid out a strategy to increase our capability within the common operating environment to get distinct blocks over time … initially having some widgets built and getting some gains on collaboration, working toward a shared geospatial foundation and then later working on unified data and assured delivery. We’re trying to get discrete achievements within this environment so other programs of record can be moved into sustainment and eventually sun-setted.
Rosenberg: Do you think this combined PEO C3T/PEO IEW&S effort on CP CE is the first step to a possible merger of the two PEOs?
VOGELHUT: One of the challenges we have there is you have very distinct user bases. Col. Wells and I could come together and make one PM. Gen. (Daniel) Hughes (PEO C3T) and Mr. (Stephen) Kreider (PEO IEW&S) could come together and make one PEO. But you’re not going to combine the G2, G3, G4, and G6 into one user. It is very challenging to try to make one PM responsive to all of those masters.
WELLS: For example, I’ve got two TRADOC capability managers. One is the Intel center of excellence, which is the TCM (TRADOC Capability Manger) for sensor processing, and I’ve got a TCM for geospatial at Fort Leonard Wood for the engineers. Both of those stakeholders have codified in my requirements document — and my requirements document goes all the way up to the Joint Staff — (which states) specific things that I absolutely have to deliver as a program of record to satisfy those stakeholders and to be successful from an acquisition program perspective. Col. Vogelhut has the same thing on his side.
Rosenberg: The CP CE has been tested at two Network Integration Evaluations, with one of the goals being development of the tactics, techniques and procedures for training, in particular. Tell me about that.
WELLS: That’s a key point because one of the things we found out from Version 1 is that the easier thing is to make some of the technological fixes … let’s have a single, common authentication scheme; let’s make sure that the hardware is reliable. One of the things that we’re working to improve is training. Both PM DCGS-A and PM Mission Command had our own specific training to support our programs of record. Now we’re trying to step outside those boundaries to jointly work a training program for this new capability called CP CE.