USA — Army asks industry to support warfighter requirements

BALTIMORE — What Sol­diers need to be suc­cess­ful on the bat­tle­field and how the tech­nol­o­gy should be devel­oped were ques­tions the Army and indus­try met to talk about dur­ing Pan­el Ses­sion One at the Team C4ISR Sym­po­sium in Bal­ti­more recent­ly.

  Maj. Gen. Nick Justice (right), commanding general of U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, addresses industry representatives during a panel session during the Team C4ISR Symposium at the Baltimore Convention Center Aug. 25.
Maj. Gen. Nick Jus­tice (right), com­mand­ing gen­er­al of U.S. Army Research, Devel­op­ment and Engi­neer­ing Com­mand, address­es indus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives dur­ing a pan­el ses­sion dur­ing the Team C4ISR Sym­po­sium at the Bal­ti­more Con­ven­tion Cen­ter Aug. 25.
Pho­to cred­it Con­rad John­son (RDECOM Pub­lic Affairs)
Click to enlarge

Tech­nol­o­gy is chang­ing so fast, and the acqui­si­tion process tra­di­tion­al­ly has been so slow, the top­ic rais­es more chal­lenges than solu­tions at present. 

The Army C4ISR con­cept, or “Com­mand, Con­trol, Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Com­put­ers, Intel­li­gence, Sur­veil­lance and Recon­nais­sance,” sup­ports Sol­diers fight­ing every day, upgrad­ing and mod­ern­iz­ing exist­ing sys­tems, incor­po­rat­ing new tech­nolo­gies, and ensur­ing the oper­a­tional readi­ness of these sys­tems that both pro­tect our warfight­ers and give them a tech­no­log­i­cal advan­tage over the enemy. 

Dur­ing the three-day annu­al sym­po­sium, Army lead­er­ship appealed to industry. 

“We don’t want to buy infra­struc­ture that will hold us back,” said Maj. Gen. Nick Jus­tice, U.S. Army Research, Devel­op­ment and Engi­neer­ing Com­mand com­mand­ing gen­er­al, to the crowd of 300–400 sym­po­sium atten­dees. “We need an infra­struc­ture that we can mod­ern­ize in incre­ments to stay abreast of changes in technology.” 

Jus­tice, who par­tic­i­pat­ed on the warfight­er require­ments pan­el with oth­er Army lead­er­ship experts, rein­forced mes­sages that the lat­est tech­nol­o­gy, for technology’s sake, does not nec­es­sar­i­ly increase the warfighter’s capa­bil­i­ty. In fact, the plat­form and train­ing require­ments that come with new tech­nol­o­gy can be a hindrance. 

“We need to do more with­out more,” said Lt. Gen. Bill Phillips, mil­i­tary deputy to the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of the Army for Acqui­si­tion, Logis­tics and Tech­nol­o­gy, and the senior rank­ing Army offi­cer at the sym­po­sium this morn­ing. Phillips is refer­ring to the Office of the Sec­re­tary of Defense Effi­cien­cies Ini­tia­tive he is sup­port­ing that will ensure weapons and oth­er infra­struc­ture sys­tems are clear­ly need­ed, rel­e­vant today and tomor­row, effi­cient, effec­tive, afford­able and executable. 

“ ‘Bet­ter’ is the ene­my of good enough,” Phillips said. “Reach­ing for the stars caus­es us to fail in meet­ing our cur­rent requirements.” 

On the top of the list of sys­tems the warfight­er needs is a more exten­sive com­mu­ni­ca­tions network. 

The Army Enter­prise Archi­tec­ture of the net­work is the domain of Maj. Gen. Mark Bow­man, direc­tor of Archi­tec­ture, Oper­a­tions, Net­works and Space at the Office of the Chief Infor­ma­tion Officer/G6. Bow­man also was the mod­er­a­tor of the pan­el session. 

Bow­man said mod­u­lar­i­ty is foun­da­tion­al to mod­ern­iz­ing the com­mu­ni­ca­tions net­work, but “apply­ing the approach is the challenge.” 

Devel­op­ing, test­ing and field­ing new mod­ules are a focus for the Army right now, and it is look­ing ahead not only for itself, but also for the oth­er services. 

“We’re work­ing toward one net­work, one team,” said Bow­man. To get this done, the mil­i­tary ser­vices are look­ing togeth­er at estab­lish­ing com­mon require­ments and stan­dards, which he sees as the biggest chal­lenge to meet­ing the warfight­er need for a more exten­sive com­mu­ni­ca­tions network. 

Jus­tice also expressed his thoughts in response to the ques­tion about what the Army’s biggest chal­lenge is in meet­ing warfight­er require­ments. In his view this is the speed of imple­ment­ing new tech­nol­o­gy and get­ting it into the warfighter’s hands. 

“We’re focus­ing on the wrong thing,” he said. What is impor­tant to him is not that warfight­ers have the lat­est tech­nol­o­gy, but that they have the capa­bil­i­ty they need to do their jobs. It’s not rea­son­able, he says, with the speed at which tech­nol­o­gy is chang­ing today to expect the Army to be “clair­voy­ant” in pro­ject­ing what will be avail­able in the future in order to plan for it now. 

“We need to be less risk averse,” said Jus­tice regard­ing test­ing the much need­ed warfight­er Infor­ma­tion Net­work — Tac­ti­cal capa­bil­i­ty, with applause from the indus­try audi­ence. “Let’s try it and get it out there.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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