FT BLISS, Texas–The Army is handing over its future command post mission system to soldiers this week at its last Network Integration Evaluation, with the goal of using immediate soldier feedback to finalize requirements ahead of a 2019 fielding decision.
Soldiers participating in the NIE at Ft. Bliss in Texas and White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico will conduct the initial operational test for the Command Post Computing Environment (CP CE), a critical capability officials said will consolidate mission command systems into a single platform.
CP CE is set to to replace the Army’s Command Post of the Future (CPoF) and is intended to create an improved common operating environment through web-enabled applications.
Maj. Shigenobu Morinaga, whose 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne is testing CP CE at NIE, told reporters his soldiers have taken quickly to the system’s chat functions and streamlined blue force tracking program.
“What makes CP CE so exciting is it will bring together several standalone systems into one platform and allow us to communicate rapidly across echelons,” Shigenobu said. “It is very intuitive, at least for our younger generation, those who are used to apps, those who are used to working cell phones, those who are used to using anything that’s a shared cloud product. It’s automatic for them.”
A production decision on CP CE is likely in early 2019, with fielding to begin in the third quarter of the fiscal year.
Col. Chuck Roede, deputy commander of Joint Modernization Command (JMC), told reporters the soldiers on site at NIE have cited the immediate benefit of needing just one laptop to conduct critical mission command tasks rather than having to move between different computers to run individual systems.
“You can see what a huge project this, but you can also see the benefit once this is all done. There are 20-some apps that will eventually be integrated, all the mission command apps, the fires apps, intelligence, that we will objectively get into,” Roede said. “We will continue to expand the CP CE, continue to take proprietary systems off the table and embed them into what I call the Army’s iPhone or iPad.”
The first test CP CE drop includes four systems that have been taken out of the field and moved over the new capability, Command Post of the Future, Tactical Ground Reporting System, Command Web, Global Command and Control System – Army.
Lt. Col. Shermoan Daiyaan, product manager for tactical mission command, said the Army is looking at 24-month sprints to add new software to CP CE as officials work up to incorporating the 20 applications. The next CP CE drop would happen around 2021.
A report on CP CE is expected 60 days after NIE, and will be followed by an Army Interoperability Certification test in the second quarter of the fiscal year, according to Daiyaan.
This year’s NIE will be the Army’s last as the officials looks for demonstration opportunities that are more appropriate for the growing tactical network capability portfolio.
Roede said the Army will take advantage of the large-scale Joint Warfighting Assessments to test new network equipment and demonstrate the latest concepts and capabilities.
The Army is also expected to plan smaller scale exercises several times and home station-type training as requirements for network capabilities continue to update, rather than waiting each year for NIE to come around to test new equipment.
Systematic received a contract in 2017 to provide its SitaWare software as the backbone for CP CE.