Edward Swanson

WIN-T increments stretch the comms range

Col. Edward Swanson is the project manager for Army PEO C3T’s Warfighter Information Network-Tactical program, a position he took in early August. His two main deputies are Lt. Col. Robert Collins and Lt. Col. Gregory Coile. Collins is product manager for the program’s increments 2 and 3, which address an initial on-the-move capability and an aerial tier to stretch range, respectively. Coile is product manager for Satcom, with responsibility for the secure communications program, among others.

The three were interviewed together by Defense Systems Editor-in-Chief Barry Rosenberg.

DS: Col. Swanson, you’re the new guy and have taken over a high-profile program. What would you say are the things that have jumped to the top of your to-do list?

Swanson: I’ll break it down into top five priorities. No. 1 is support to our deployed forces. We do that through supporting urgent operational needs. It comes with two flavors. One of them is the Joint Urgent Operational Needs Statement. The other is the Operational Needs Statement. These are urgent needs that get submitted for material solutions. One is joint, as the name implies. The other is something often submitted uniquely to the Army.

No. 2 would be support for the next group of units and forces that are getting ready and trained up and equipped to go into theater to support the next rotation. That’s synchronized with the Army’s force generation process, ARFORGEN.

No. 3 would be resetting the redeploying forces so their equipment is back in a full mission-capable status. That’s often not the case when they come back because of wear and tear while they’ve been deployed for nine or 12 months.

No. 4 would be the IOT&E for Inc 2. That’s the Army’s future tactical network, and that’s in May of 2012. We’re hoping to get a full-rate production decision in September of [2012].

And the final one is better business practices and looking for efficiencies. That’s a continuous process and something we do every day.

DS: Let’s focus in on Increment 2. What’s happened since the program achieved Milestone C and entered low-rate initial production earlier this year?

Collins: A lot of what’s been going on since then is ramping up the production line and completing all of the necessary production qualification testings. We’ve completed those testings at the contractor’s plant in Taunton, [General Dynamics C4 Systems’ facilities in Massachusetts], to verify that the component meets build-to specifications.

We’ve also completed production qualification testing here at Aberdeen to put those piece parts together and assemble the architecture, then conduct the different scenarios and load the network to assess how it meets its operational requirements, not just technical specifications. In fact, this was the largest-scale scope test that was ever conducted here at Aberdeen.

We’ve also been doing logistics demos where we took production items, trained soldiers on the equipment, and then evaluated their ability to do fault isolations and network trouble-shooting. And we’ve had members of Fort Gordon and the Signal Center of Excellence going page by page through all the training manuals on all the various pieces of equipment, verifying how the material will be presented, trained and documented.

So we’re ramping up the production line and doing the necessary testing in preparation, as Col. Swanson said, for the IOT&E that’s going to happen in May of 2012.

DS: Command and control on the move will be one of the major elements of this fall’s 12.1 Network Integration Exercise at Fort Bliss, Texas, and White Sands Missile Range, N.M. What is WIN-T’s role in that?

Collins: C2 one the move is both the battle command application and the supporting network. So these work together in tandem, and we’re working closely with the battle command community to be able to have that. What Increment 2 provides is the transport component and ensuing NetOps, and the ability of that network to react to those battle command apps and prioritize traffic, whether it would be FBCB2 or CPOF or TIGR or the other elements that are part of the 2nd Brigade/1st Armored Division architecture.

Swanson: The 2/1 AD brigade commander operates on an M-ATV variant of the MRAP family. So that M-ATV from a comms perspective gets a WIN-T kit, which we call a point of presence. We’ve got both satellite on the move, and a terrestrial high-band networking radio. Also on that vehicle is this battle command applications. They’ve got CPOF on that terminal as well as FBCB2 so that mission command application can operate over the WIN-T Increment 2 on-the-move network capability.

In 12.1 we’re going to have 13 of those vehicles that can conduct mission command while on the move.

DS: Let’s move over the satcom part of WIN-T, the part that’s not related to the on-the-move efforts but includes very-small-aperture terminals, such as the SIPR/NIPR access point terminals. Secure comms is one of your major programs, and you just received the first Advanced Extremely High Frequency Secure Mobile Anti-jam Reliable Tactical Terminal. Tell me about that.

Coile: We are fielding our first Advanced EHF satellite terminals that give our current satellite SMART-T terminals an eightfold increase in throughput capability. This is our protecting comms capability. We fielded that at Fort Bliss and Fort Lewis, and we have an intense schedule the next couple of years to upgrade all those terminals to Advanced EHF satellite constellation.

DS: What are you seeing out in the commercial world of satcom that you want to apply to military needs?

Coile: We’re seeing a lot of good stuff from our industry partners. They’re taking commercial off-the-shelf modems and routers and switches, and they’ve worked very well in theater as far as enduring the hardships of the sand and dust and so forth. They’ve worked with us over the years to get their standards up to that level.

And now they’re looking at developing a smaller form, fit and function for us so that we can be lighter and have less draw on our power resources in theater. They’re also looking at the ability to have a modem agnostic box so that one modem box could load different versions of software to be able to work on different networks.

About the Author

Barry Rosenberg is editor-in-chief of Defense Systems. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryDefense.

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