WASHINGTON — Army leaders said plans are underway to deliver eight brigade combat teams of integrated, capability-enhancing networking technologies beginning in October.
The new brigade combat team, or BCT, equipment is part of what the Army calls Capability Set 13, an integrated set of networking technologies, reporters were told at a Pentagon event June 28.
Capability Set 13, or CS 13, is engineered to bring unprecedented new capabilities to the force such as the ability to conduct mission command operations while on the move in vehicles and connect the individual, dismounted Soldier to a broader communications network, said Brig. Gen. John Morrison, director, G3/5/7 LandWarNet, Mission Command.
Two, of the eight sets of networking gear, are slated to field with the Army’s 10th Mountain Division as part of the culmination of the services capability set management approach to modernization. This approach is a key element of what the Army calls the “agile process,” a method of identifying, developing and deploying new systems and technology in a manner that emphasizes evaluation and integration prior to deployment, interoperability and maximum utility to the Soldier.
The ongoing series of network integration evaluations, known as NIEs, are an essential element of the agile process and the developmental trajectory of CS 13. They involve 3,800-Soldier strong exercises in which emerging systems and solutions are placed in the hands of Soldiers for evaluation in a combat-like environment at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. These NIEs, underway for the last year and a half, help refine and operationally validate requirements, harness Soldier feedback to determine what works and what doesn’t, and help pave the way forward regarding how to acquire and integrate new capability.
“Eighteen months ago, we fundamentally changed the way we test, evaluate and field technology and fundamentally changed the way we do business. Capability set management allows us to buy what we need when we need it and spiral in the latest capability,” said Morrison.
In total, there are at least 15 different systems which make up Capability Set 13, including hand-held radios, mobile satellite communications gear and smartphone-like, hand-held devices for individual Soldiers, among other things, said Morrison.
“Capability set management is about bringing technologies together as a single capability. As we field CS 13, units will know that what they are getting has been brought together into one synchronized unit,” said Col. Dan Hughes, director of the System of Systems Integration Directorate under the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. “Synchronized fielding is a sea change from what we have done in the past. We find out what works at the NIEs and it saves us integration time somewhere else.”
Overall, the capability set management approach and the NIE process is slated to continue into the future, both expanding and spiraling in new capabilities as they become available. The Army is already working on refining the materiel build necessary to deliver the next iteration of networking capability, CS 14.