PEO C3T Program Review & Vision Guide

New Battle Command Strategy Increases Collaboration

By COL David Moore

During fall 2009, Project Manager Battle Command (PM BC) launched the development of the Battle Command Collapse strategy, which will shift the Army’s family of uniquely distinct tactical functional applications with unique data storing and sharing mechanisms and collapse these systems towards a consolidated software product line. The strategy will establish a common architecture for current battle command and control systems and future capabilities to significantly enhance the ability of commanders and staff to effectively conduct collaborative mission planning and execution across a range of operations and the spectrum of conflict. 

PM BC develops, deploys, and sustains integrated battle command software capabilities to the Army and joint forces.  PM BC supports the current fight by ensuring units are efficiently fielded, effectively trained, and professionally supported. Successful implementation requires a disciplined and responsive development process that focuses on both near-term deliveries to current software baselines and longer-term development that sets conditions for enhanced warfighter effectiveness. Providing rapid delivery of capability to the field through software development allows constant interaction with the user base to maintain operational relevancy. These interactions have been vital to help identify and provide solutions to current challenges.

PM BC has many primary systems in its portfolio that support the warfighter including Command Post of the Future (CPOF), Maneuver Control System (MCS), Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS), Joint Automated Deep Operations Coordination System (JADOCS), Battle Command Sustainment and Support System (BCS3), and Global Command and Control System-Army (GCCS-A). These systems are supported by a common software effort to reduce redundant development across product lines.

Each of these programs are performing well in the field, providing operationally relevant capability. A major shortfall of the current family of systems approach is that while we can engineer distinct data to be sharable with other systems, this method is not helping the commander and staff collaborate any better. Staff officers remain isolated, largely due to the systems with which they operate. Interoperability and collaboration is typically achieved when soldiers manually extract data from one system and physically re-enter this data into another system. This method degrades collective operational effectiveness and immediately frustrates users.  Soldiers need to fight the fight, not fight systems.

PM BC is addressing these deficiencies by initially collapsing the logistics, fires, and airspace product lines onto the CPOF application. This application represents the Army’s gold standard for human-centered collaboration and provides the core capability the commander and staff needs in the field. CPOF will provide the best channel for the systems to increase commander and staffs’ effectiveness.   Based on the evolution of CPOF from an application to a broader development framework, future collaborative capabilities will be developed and deployed in this environment.

Some key benefits of this approach include:
* A singular battle command product line with a common, government-owned and managed foundation architecture;

*A unified approach to data handling and infrastructure procurement;

*Significantly enhanced commander and staff ability to effectively conduct collaborative mission planning and execution across the full spectrum of military operations; and

*Focus subordinate PM’s on specific warfighting functional development in an effort to eliminate redundant, costly infrastructure.
While CPOF is the main effort to pursue a common battle command workstation environment, PM BC is also establishing a common web services framework. This effort recognizes two key facts. First, not all battle command data needs to be in the collaborative environment. If, for example, all data converged into one solution, the CPOF capability would be rapidly crushed under its own weight.

Second, there is a similar spread of web service mapping environments that is stove-piping solutions as each PM picks his own web viewer to present functions. PM BC must provide a common target for a web services visualization environment to gain control of this emerging disconnect. By doing so, PM BC will gain a much greater control of the enterprise information architecture and data standards for capabilities that are migrating towards a services-oriented environment.

Finally we must collapse our infrastructure. Many PMs are delivering redundant back office capability to common formations. As a result, the Army pays unnecessary licensing costs, procures suboptimal hardware solutions, and increases the sustaining burden for our soldiers.  PM BC is involved in analysis to recommend solutions to this domain.

Currently, two key challenges to success exist. First, the strategy must be executed quickly. Traditional acquisition processes must not be a barrier to speed of delivery and must work as quickly and effectively as possible to ensure the strategy’s success. An integral part of this approach is the smart evolution of the components of the battle command framework previously mentioned. If implemented properly, these foundations will motivate the software development community interested in innovative battle command solutions to begin and end in the Battle Command development environment. By doing so, solutions will have the opportunity to leverage a software development process featuring worldwide scalability, an established supporting infrastructure and a highly competent field support representative base.

PM BC’s intent is to deliver this capability to the field with our first instance of collapse in October 2010 and continue iterative delivery to warfighters on an annual basis until systems achieve complete collapse. 

The second key challenge is the social aspect of how the government acquisition community and our contractor partners deliver this future. The condition PM BC seeks to create is one where the strengths of its vendors are not marginalized because of governmental barriers to effective collaboration and open competition. Adopting a commercial competitive model, characterized by rapid innovation and short cycle times that quickly deliver innovation to the field is how PM BC programs will remain relevant to the warfighter. Maintaining the status quo does not work for the warfighters. Success lies with teaming an aggressive approach to software development.

Significant positive strives have been made to enhance product interoperability to directly increase commander and staff operational effectiveness. The focus of the BC Collapse strategy on infrastructure reduction and robust collaborative solutions complemented by the development of a web services framework will place Army software development on a path to successfully supporting the warfighter in highly variable and uncertain operational environments. By breaking down system designs that have stove-piped the Army’s warfighting functions, and by employing a human-centered, collaborative approach we will support the way the commander and staff desire to interact.