Army C4ISR portal uses open-source software for faster upgrades

The Army has upgraded its Single Interface to the Field (SIF) web portal using open-source software to make it easier for users to find information and documents.

The SIF 3.0 portal is designed to give deployed troops and personnel a single point from which they can obtain information about support for any system managed by the Army's command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) organizations, the military service said. These hardware and software applications include the Army's tactical communications, situational awareness and mission command capabilities.

"By creating a repository of fielding, support and training processes and information, SIF synchronizes the working relationships between units and program managers in the Army Force Generation [AFORGEN] process," Emerson Keslar, the director of the Army's Military Technical Solutions Office said in an Army news story.

ARFORGEN is an Army-wide training and deployment cycle designed to ensure that there is always a pool of trained, equipped and deployment-ready troops.

The open-source software approach to SIF 3.0 gives the portal's administrators more freedom to implement any changes, without the need for additional software development requests or resources, the Army said.

SIF was created in 2007 and coincided with the Army's adoption of the unit set fielding (USF) process, which synchronizes planning, fielding, training and reset of all C4ISR capabilities.

The Army's objective in establishing the portal was to consolidate multiple stovepiped applications and tools that needed to be used by both deploying soldiers and field support personnel. Soldiers can use the SIF portal to access training briefings and documents, and also detailed information about the C4ISR systems they may be fielded. SIF has supported all rotations of units at the Combined Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., and Fort Polk, La., the Army said.

Similarly, field support personnel and project managers can use the portal to access fielding schedules and contact information for the hundreds of units that participate in the USF process at the same time.

Beyond USF, the portal and its associated modules support a number of Army exercises, including the ongoing Network Integration Evaluations, the Army said.

The incident reporting module (IRM), linked within the SIF portal, serves as the online standard trouble ticket/issue reporting, tracking and problem-resolution capability for all C4ISR systems, the service said. When soldiers or field support personnel run into an issue while training or deployed, an incident ticket is created within the IRM and linked to C4ISR subject-matter experts.

The SIF IRM team worked directly with the Army's System of Systems Integration Directorate Integrated Process Team to create a customized, tailored IRM console for the NIEs. This module features an 11-item incident reporting form for soldiers to quickly fill in the relevant information for a support ticket, while continuing their evaluations in the field. 

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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