Project Manager's View

Giving the Army eyes and ears

Project Manager Night Vision is a 0-6 level PM within the Program Executive Officer- Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors (PEO-IEW&S). The mission of Night Vision is to develop, produce, field, network and sustain Army and Defense Department tactical reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition (RSTA) sensors and sensor systems in support of the warfighter. These sensors and sensor systems include infrared technology, acoustic technology and radar, both for manned and unmanned and unattended air and ground applications.

From my perspective, command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) has many players, of which PEO-IEW&S is a big part. As part of PEO-IEW&S, we provide the RSTA sensor and sensor system capabilities such as electro-optical and infrared, radar, and acoustic and seismic sensors that are used to conduct surveillance and reconnaissance operations and feed intelligence. We provide all of these things to the overall Team C4ISR mission.

With three project management offices and one product director organization, PM Night Vision/RSTA has 16 programs of record and many efforts that are termed quick reaction capabilities. QRCs provide a quick capability to the warfighter in direct support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

An example of a QRC that we are fielding is the Base Expeditionary Targeting and Surveillance Systems-Combined (BETSS-C). BETSS-C is a QRC that came about as an operational needs statement from the field, and it’s one of the major efforts right now that we are working on. PM Night Vision was given this mission to provide a flexible, movable and scalable expeditionary base defense system that would provide persistent ground targeting and surveillance with a standoff capability and that would also link to key battle command systems.

Phase I of BETSS-C focuses on getting these RSTA sensor systems fielded. Phase II focuses on networking these sensor systems for intra-theater RSTA capability. Thus, BETSS-C really encapsulates the mission of PM Night Vision.

I recently spent a month in the field deploying to both Iraq and Afghanistan and had the opportunity to see Night Vision/RSTA systems being used in the fight. All of my systems are being used in theater and are awesome force multipliers. Take the Long Range Advanced Scout Surveillance System (LRAS3) for example. It provides a wonderful standoff capability for the soldiers, because you can see so far. Now the scouts don’t have to get up close to the enemy, they can be sitting on a hill miles away and see what’s going on. And they are man-portable. In Iraq, I saw commanders doing creative things with them, such as mounting them on the top of buildings to provide RSTA capability.

That’s one of the “hooah” things about PM Night Vision/RSTA is that we are providing direct support to the warfight right now. It's an awesome PM program to be a part of, and the warfighter loves our systems. The only negative comment that I heard when I was in Iraq and Afghanistan was, "Why can’t we get more?" One thing about it, we at NV/RSTA are very happy that our systems are a great benefit to the warfighter as force multipliers. And, most important – they save lives. That's the important thing: They save lives.

About the Author

Sean Gallagher is senior contributing editor for Defense Systems.

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