PEO C3T Program Review & Vision Guide

USF: Phased Approach to Fielding the Army 

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

Throughout the world, Army Team C4SIR capabilities allow units to see, plan, communicate and coordinate the battle in an integrated fashion.

Through Unit Set Fielding (USF), the Army’s Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T) plays an integral role in fielding this equipment so it is synchronized with the training schedules, reset, and support of each.

Aligned with the Army Force Generation process, USF manages the planning and implementation of fielding and reset for all major tactical Army Team C4ISR capabilities. The U.S. Army and, specifically, the organizations affiliated with the Army’s CECOM Life Cycle Management Command (LCMC), simultaneously provide warfighters with everything they need, to perform their combat mission. This means providing Army Battle Command Systems, communications systems, power, network, and enablers, all at the same time.

“(USF) allows the fielding and reset community to lay out the logical sequence,” said Lt. Col. Michael Rodriguez, military deputy to the chief of the PEO C3T Readiness Management Division. “It allows us to maximize the limited amount of time that a soldier has for either learning how to use new equipment or to reset their equipment and get them ready for their deployment.”

At the end of the first quarter of fiscal year 2010, 48 percent of the active Army (110 of 229 units); 29 percent of its National Guard (45 of 154 units); 4 percent of its Reserves (3 of 70 units) and 19 percent of Multi-Component units (4 of 21) had completed USF. Beginning in March 2009, the fielding of Software Block 2 (SWB2) of Army Battle Command Systems (ABCS) 6.4 was initiated through the USF process during reset and initial fieldings. By the end of the first quarter of fiscal year 2010, 70 units from all components had fielded SWB2 through the USF process.

The process allows for better planning and prioritization of a unit’s time, as its fielding is coordinated before the system representatives from the project management (PM) offices arrive at their location, Rodriguez said. For instance, if a signal soldier in a command post needs training on various systems, coordinators can through USF prioritize based on his or her mission needs and ensure only the correct representative is sent to them, at the right time.

It has also supported training in a system-of-systems construct. So, a user first learns the basic, initial applications and systems, and then is trained to operate them in a collaborative environment in order to build an integrated common operating picture, Rodriguez said.

This standard of training means that as PEO C3T capabilities are developed into a system of systems, they are used as such. In the Army, a system of systems refers to one system that consists of many smaller capabilities for a singular end user.

Prior to USF, system representatives would support units based on their own availability. As a result, units were inundated with training and field requirements and issues occurred as the units also had to ready themselves for deployment, Rodriguez said.

Now, through USF, representatives from the PMs and the unit meet in coordinated and synchronized events, such as USF conferences, to integrate fielding and new equipment training in a logical and synchronized manner. With this, the process can be tied into the regular operational training requirements, he said.

“And that way we don’t become a burden to the unit as they prepare for their deployment, but rather a valued team member,” he said.

The five phases of USF and the operations they support are:

*Phase I (planning): During detailed fielding and new equipment training planning.

*Phase II (execution): During fielding and training operations.

*Phase III (reset, staging, onward movement and integration): While deploying or at an Army combat training center where units receive their training prior to deployment.

*Phase IV (deployment): For support of units when they are deployed.

*Phase V (reset): During the unit’s reset upon return from deployment.

USF’s phases were originally led completely by the PEO C3T. Today, PEO C3T leads the first three phases, and the CECOM Life Cycle Management Command (LCMC) leads the final two.

Aligned with ARFORGEN

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. Aligning itself into this process allows fielders to maintain contact with the unit throughout all five phases of USF and all three phases of the ARFORGEN Cycle.

By aligning itself with ARFORGEN through USF, PEO C3T can support each unit’s rotational readiness model, modularity requirements, ARFORGEN modernization strategy and Army equipping strategy. Modularity is a major restructuring of the entire Army, involving the creation of Brigade Combat Teams that will have a common design and will increase the pool of available units for deployment.

Since USF repeats after Phase V, as a unit moves through the ARFORGEN process it is easy to coordinate where the unit is in USF, said Mike Carter, associate CECOM  LCMC Logistics and Readiness Center (LRC) director for operations.

“The ARFORGEN cycle, if you deviate from it, will affect how a unit is prepared to deploy,” said Maj. Robert Collins, S6, for the 3rd Brigade/1st Cavalry Division.

At Fort Hood, Texas when interviewed in January, Collins prepared to turn in his unit’s equipment, with future training exercises and missions in mind.

USF allows soldiers like Collins to manage the past mission while preparing for the future. PEO C3T initiated the process in fiscal year 2005 as a system of systems approach to fielding. The process has allowed for the presentation of systems based on personnel availability and created a method of fielding where separate capabilities are provided to a unit in a sequenced fashion until a complete set is received.

The method was eventually incorporated by the Army Team C4ISR community, whose organizations use the process to field some of its equipment. Other organizations have also embraced USF, such as: Headquarters, Department of the Army G3/G6/G8; United States Army Training and Doctrine Command; Armed Forces Command; National Guard Bureau; Office of the Chief of Army Reserve; and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisitions, Logistics and Technology.

During bi-weekly USF Battle Update briefings, representatives from PEO C3T and the Army Team C4ISR community share USF phase-by-phase reports on the issues, suggesting improvements and solutions for the units currently taking part in the USF process. Participants, including the Army’s leadership, can access tracking, fielding and scheduling information through the Unit Set Fielding module of the PEO C3T’s Single Interface to the Field (SIF). Synchronization conferences are also held, where members of the USF team travel to unit \locations to explain and train Army Team C4ISR capabilities. Units are provided with a single representative for scheduling separate fielding facets at times that fit into the units’ training schedules.

The phased fielding process also augments soldier proficiency with digital capabilities, as soldiers can take critical steps to prioritize a training schedule early in the cycle, Collins said. In the long run, they will be able to train easier on the systems they use prior to deployment, with less dependency on over-the-shoulder training provided to them by field service representatives in theater, he said.