PEO C3T Program Review & Vision Guide

In Afghanistan: Colonel Helps Share CPOF Across the Coalition  

By Josh Davidson, Symbolic Systems, Inc., supporting PEO C3T

Across the Coalition, casualties might occur when commanders can’t communicate across boundaries to clear fires and inform others of restricted operation zones. Disjointed movements across the battlefield will arise when one nation is unaware of the other’s actions.

In order to increase situational awareness, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces Afghanistan, has required each coalition nation to share information on the Afghanistan Mission Network. It consists of the NATO ISAF Secret Network as the core along with network extensions from each participating nation. This network allows for the unrestricted sharing of data among the separate networks that currently exist within each coalition nation.

PEO C3T is working to bring the Command Post of the Future (CPOF) to the ISAF Secret network. CPOF allows commanders to see a common operating picture and to collaborate in real-time. 

On Dec. 2, Col. Steven Drake arrived in Afghanistan to help bring the Command Post of the Future (CPOF) to the ISAF Secret network. CPOF allows commanders to see a common operating picture and to collaborate in real-time.

Drake replaced Lt. Col. Kevin Leonard as the Project Manager, Battle Command liaison officer in the area of responsibility. One key step to using CPOF in Afghanistan
was attaining North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) accreditations. The NATO-run ISAF Joint Command required its own test of CPOF to ensure it would not disrupt NATO’s network, Drake said. A test run on the local network was also required to ensure its bandwidth capacity would not cause problems with the other residing systems.

Recently, many product and project managers from the Army’s Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T) have deployed to theater to obtain and respond to firsthand warfighter feedback, examine coalition command and control for increased efficiencies, and assess and enhance the architectures U.S. forces are using. The leaders and support staff have also built IT infrastructures for units as they arrive in theater and supported the fielding of capability upgrades.

PM Battle Command (PM BC) and support staff from the PEO C3T, to which PM BC is assigned, successfully attained accreditation for CPOF and set up a help desk for user questions.

After Drake arrived, McChrystal announced his directive to collapse the capabilities of each of the nations supporting the Afghanistan mission into one network architecture. The Afghanistan Mission Network with ISAF Secret as its core was created to promote collaborative exchange of information and enhance mission execution, Drake said.

“It essentially is the network architecture that the CPOF will be riding on as a core system,” Drake said. "Each regional command will use CPOF to accomplish collaboration and synchronize of efforts."

Each nation expects to establish a unique extension to the ISAF secret network, and each is developing its extensions and linking it to the ISAF Secret network, Drake said.

The Centrix ISAF network is the US’s extension to the ISAF Secret network as part of the overall Afghanistan Mission Network.

“We will be able to communicate and pass information seamlessly across this network from the national extensions back into ISAF secret, the core of the network architecture,” he said.

This CX-I network must reach back to the U.S., so units can train on it prior to their deployment. Each Combat Training Center in the U.S. will have an extension of Centrix ISAF from Afghanistan, Drake said.

From the CTC, units can also set up their hard drives to allow their applications to run on the Centrix ISAF. This way, they will not need their drives expunged and reused or to procure new ones, prior to arriving in theater.

“If you can do all of that in the rear and actually train on this network, then when you deploy none of that has to happen,” Drake said. “You are all ready to go and you can hit the ground running.”