Email this Article Email   

CHIPS Articles: C4I Deliveries on Demand

C4I Deliveries on Demand
By Rita Boland, Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence - April-June 2019
The Navy’s Shore and Expeditionary Program Office (PMW 790) is about to do the first field tests on a new project that, if successful, will enable expeditionary maritime-operations-center (MOC) capabilities. If it works as planned, commanders will see their command and control (C2) needs met closer to the front lines, and Sailors will spend less time troubleshooting or doing administrative procedures and more time on their missions.

Known as the Adaptive Force Package, this pilot represents the crawl phase of the crawl-walk-run process leading to what is known as the Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) Arsenal. The project aims to deliver C4I-as-a-service, much like the concepts of software-as-a-service or platform-as-a-service. System experts will load all the C4I applications that commanders need onto a small-form-factor device (think carry-on suitcase) that will be carried aboard and connected into ships’ network infrastructure and communications paths or deployed at austere locations. The results will be a forward-deployed MOC with C2, intelligence and fires capabilities.

“This is the next step in moving MOCs closer to the action,” said Kevin Washburn, the expeditionary principal assistant program manager in PMW 790. “This started in a building at 3rd Fleet headquarters in San Diego. Last year, we were able to move it to a tent in Hawaii as part of a different expeditionary program. Now with the Adaptive Force Package, we’re giving the MOC commanders the same access to systems and technologies on a ship of opportunity.”

PMW 790 is part of the Program Executive Office (PEO) C4I, which delivers threat-based C4I and space system capabilities that enable the fleet to compete, deter and win.

The pilot for the Adaptive Force Package will take place in summer 2019 during the Pacific Sentry phase 19-3. During the exercise, 3rd Fleet will use the package on an LPD, having C4I delivered as a service, just in time, for the first time. Though the pilot for the Adaptive Force Package is a MOC configuration, the full instantiation of the C4I Arsenal could be for multiple types of expeditionary missions, bringing necessary capabilities to ships or expeditionary locations that most need it. The Adaptive Force Package is not intended for deployment to ships already equipped with the latest afloat technology — i.e., those with the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) — that already have the necessary C4I systems for C2 missions.

Hardware in the program will be commercial and agnostic. As long as it can load the necessary system apps and execute the virtualized network functions, it could be used. Decisions on hardware will be made based on what can accelerate delivery to the fleet at the best cost.

The new construct has multiple benefits beyond making the MOC expeditionary. It also means the latest and greatest version of necessary systems are provided to deployed forces, because the system can be delivered later than in traditional processes. The loaded software will be customized for mission by the user, giving forward forces the specific capabilities they need for a mission (for example, a fires mission).

Additionally, once the C4I Arsenal phase of the program is complete, fleet users simply return the Adaptive Force Package system back to the arsenal after a mission. That way, Sailors and Marines can focus on operating the system, minimizing the burden of loading or updating software, patching or other information-technology administration concerns. And if a component breaks or something different is needed, a new loaded form factor can be delivered to the ship or site with the updated hardware or software, allowing fleet users to simply “swap out the boxes.”

“Adaptive Force Package and the C4I Arsenal will completely disrupt the way we acquire and deploy expeditionary C4I,” said Capt. Kyle “Chet” Turco, program manager, PMW 790. “We’re putting mission specific capabilities where the warfighter needs it while taking unnecessary administrative burden off our operators.

“We’re also getting after larger Navy goals and strategies,” Turco continued. “In his Design for Maritime Security 2.0, the CNO [Chief of Naval Operations] says 2nd Fleet and 3rd Fleet need to become expeditionary. The C4I Arsenal helps make that happen with 3rd Fleet being our first use case.”

During Pacific Sentry, the Adaptive Force Package will provide 85 MOC workstations for U.S. and Australian forces. PMW 790 personnel will take the good and bad lessons learned from their experiences to evaluate the next steps on the way to full development of the C4I Arsenal.

Future changes will include integration with a cloud environment, and ships or expeditionary users can simply pull down the apps they need, much like smartphones do with cellular networks. PMW 790 is working with other Information Warfare programs such as Compile to Combat in 24 Hours (C2C24) that are designed to make delivering C4I services to warfighters faster.

“Our long-range plan is to be able to provide C4I as a service just in time,” Washburn said. “We have to be able to use existing network and communications infrastructure if it is available or bring that infrastructure as part of the Adaptive Force Package if needed."

Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (PEO C4I) provides integrated communication and information technology systems that enable information warfare and command and control of maritime forces. PEO C4I acquires, fields and supports C4I systems which extend across Navy, joint and coalition platforms. More information can be found at http://www.public.navy.mil/spawar/PEOC4I/Pages/default.aspx

Related CHIPS Articles
Related DON CIO News
Related DON CIO Policy

CHIPS is an official U.S. Navy website sponsored by the Department of the Navy (DON) Chief Information Officer, the Department of Defense Enterprise Software Initiative (ESI) and the DON's ESI Software Product Manager Team at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific.

Online ISSN 2154-1779; Print ISSN 1047-9988
Hyperlink Disclaimer