USA — Engineers Seek New Edge for Warfighters

WASHINGTON, Aug. 27, 2010 — Engi­neers at the U.S. Army Research, Devel­op­ment and Engi­neer­ing Command’s Com­mu­ni­ca­tions-Elec­tron­ics Cen­ter at Fort Mon­mouth, N.J., are design­ing hand­held solu­tions that will give troops in the bat­tle­field a strate­gic edge.

“Today’s warfight­ers are fac­ing an ever-chang­ing, ever-adapt­ing, ever-evolv­ing ene­my, and we need to be able to adapt … as fast or faster than the ene­my,” said Michael P. Antho­ny, chief of the CERDEC com­mand and con­trol directorate’s advanced appli­ca­tions branch, dur­ing a “DoD Live” blog­gers round­table yes­ter­day.

The Defense Department’s 5000.2 Defense Acqui­si­tion Man­age­ment Sys­tem, an acqui­si­tion and life-cycle man­age­ment process, “[does] not nec­es­sar­i­ly enable this, at least for soft­ware,” Antho­ny said.

To rem­e­dy this deficit, CERDEC offi­cials are devel­op­ing “edge-enabled” sys­tems that will allow warfight­ers to col­lect and trans­mit infor­ma­tion with­out inter­rup­tion, and with­out access­ing a com­put­er ter­mi­nal.

The sys­tem will be cus­tomiz­able, Antho­ny said, so that each user may have a unique expe­ri­ence suit­ed to indi­vid­ual needs. It also will be able to be enriched with third-par­ty appli­ca­tions. Over­all, he said, the Com­mand Post of the Future soft­ware sys­tem will give com­man­ders bet­ter live over­sight of con­di­tions on the bat­tle­field.

“This is a big shift in the way the Army adds new capa­bil­i­ties into field­ed sys­tems, one which I believe will pro­vide an increased oper­a­tional effec­tive­ness for our warfight­ers,” Antho­ny said.

He added that CERDEC’s space and ter­res­tri­al com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­torate is address­ing secu­ri­ty issues relat­ed to shar­ing infor­ma­tion over wire­less chan­nels. Research ini­tia­tives include teth­er­ing a mil­i­tary radio to a smart device to give a warfight­er a secure con­nec­tion and find­ing ways to give sol­diers secure access to mil­i­tary net­works using com­mer­cial lines.

CERDEC also is part­ner­ing with orga­ni­za­tions includ­ing the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Apps for the Army ini­tia­tive. Antho­ny said he per­ceives an accel­er­a­tion of progress through the com­plex field­ing process for this advanced soft­ware sys­tem.

“When you get the pow­er of the com­mu­ni­ty behind an ini­tia­tive, at some point you reach a tip­ping point,” he said, “and I believe we’re not too far away from this.”

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

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