US Army aiming for vehicle-based Common Operating Environment

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — On the dynam­ic and com­plex bat­tle­field, the Com­mon Oper­at­ing Envi­ron­ment will stream­line com­mu­ni­ca­tions between Sol­diers in vehi­cles and high­er head­quar­ters, cre­at­ing seam­less inter­op­er­abil­i­ty between the com­put­ers, sen­sors and appli­ca­tions they use.

Through an Army-wide effort to col­lapse capa­bil­i­ties and inte­grate them into vehi­cles, Sol­diers will com­mu­ni­cate more seam­less­ly with upper ech­e­lons.
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Devel­oped by the Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of the Army for Acqui­si­tion, Logis­tics and Tech­nol­o­gy, known as ASA (ALT), in Octo­ber 2010, the Com­mon Oper­at­ing Envi­ron­ment, or COE, is a set of com­put­ing tech­nolo­gies and stan­dards. They are designed to enable secure and inter­op­er­a­ble appli­ca­tions to be rapid­ly devel­oped and exe­cut­ed across a vari­ety of envi­ron­ments. The Mount­ed Com­put­ing Envi­ron­ment, or CE, is one of six com­put­ing envi­ron­ments that sup­port this goal. 

“Through this Army-wide effort to col­lapse capa­bil­i­ties and inte­grate them into vehi­cles, Sol­diers can com­mu­ni­cate more seam­less­ly with upper ech­e­lons,” said Peter Dugan, a sys­tems engi­neer with the Army’s Pro­gram Exec­u­tive Office for Com­mand, Con­trol and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions-Tac­ti­cal, known as PEO C3T

Dugan explained PEO C3T’s role in lead­ing the Mount­ed CE Nov. 10, dur­ing a pan­el at MILCOM 2011, an annu­al inter­na­tion­al con­fer­ence focused on mil­i­tary com­mu­ni­ca­tions and net­works held at the Bal­ti­more Con­ven­tion Cen­ter in Bal­ti­more, Md. 

The Mount­ed CE is a stan­dard in which sys­tems are set inside vehi­cles that have large amounts of pro­cess­ing pow­er, but con­tain much less band­width than a tac­ti­cal oper­a­tions cen­ter. “Its exis­tence,” Dugan said, “will be seam­less to the user.” 

“The end user should not be aware of the fact that there is a CE out there,” Dugan said. “The COE and the CE should allow devel­op­ers to quick­ly build their appli­ca­tions onto this envi­ron­ment, and then they just need a good capa­bil­i­ty with a com­mon map and com­mon infra­struc­ture,” he said. 

Dugan out­lined how the Mount­ed CE would bridge the com­put­ing divide. The appli­ca­tion includes three class­es of capa­bil­i­ties: the first involves trans­mit­ting small mes­sages con­nect­ed to a host; the sec­ond includes inte­grat­ing more func­tion­al­i­ty and shar­ing data at the local lev­el; and the third con­cerns adapt­ing to the new environment. 

Michael Antho­ny, chief of the Mis­sion Com­mand Divi­sion for the U.S. Army Com­mu­ni­ca­tions-Elec­tron­ics Research, Devel­op­ment, and Engi­neer­ing Cen­ter, or CERDEC, Com­mand and Con­trol Direc­torate, known as C2D, said employ­ing a com­mon set of stan­dards into a Com­mon Oper­at­ing Envi­ron­ment on the tac­ti­cal net­work would enable users to “copy and paste” infor­ma­tion across sep­a­rate tac­ti­cal applications. 

“Just like we do when we take a bul­let from a Microsoft Word doc­u­ment and paste it into a Pow­er­Point slide,” he said. 

Mon­i­ca Farah-Sta­ple­ton, sys­tems of sys­tems engi­neer for ASA (ALT), said COE stan­dards (like the Mount­ed CE) help the PEO com­mu­ni­ty inden­ti­fy the many busi­ness and cul­tur­al process­es that must occur to make an appli­ca­tion tech­ni­cal­ly fea­si­ble. These process­es, she said, are “crit­i­cal enablers.” 

“We have to take advan­tage of what­ev­er effi­cien­cies are avail­able to us,” she said. “So, we look at the Com­mon Oper­at­ing Envi­ron­ment as a forc­ing func­tion for an ele­ment of change across the PEO community.” 

The oth­er five envi­ron­ments include: dis­mount­ed hand­helds, sen­sors, real-time safe­ty crit­i­cal, Tac­ti­cal Oper­a­tions Cen­ters and Com­mand Posts, and the Data Cen­ter Cloud, a stan­dard that uses enter­prise ser­vices to pass data from a cen­tral­ized hub. 

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