As mobility continues to increase in government, the Army is following suit: Mission command is going mobile. Tactical vehicles — the main link between headquarters and its dismounted soldiers — will be equipped with the latest situational awareness and messaging technology.
In fiscal year 2014, the Army is planning to field Joint Battle Command-Platform, which provides friendly-force tracking, mounted mission command and situational awareness capabilities. JBC-P will be the first version of the Mounted Computing Environment, one of six computing environments that compose new established standards enabling rapid development of secure and interoperable applications, known as Army’s Common Operating Environment.
“If you compare the mobile, handheld computing environment to an iPhone and compare the stationary command post computing environment to a desktop computer, MCE — with JBC-P being the core capability — is the iPad,” said Lt. Col. Michael Olmstead, product manager for JBC-P. “You might not necessarily need the same app for the handheld that you need for the command post, but just like the commercial model, they would be compatible and interoperable.”
JBC-P laid the foundation for the MCE, which allows soldiers to access new apps and tools necessary for their work, such as Tactical Ground Reporting. The framework is user friendly and operates seamlessly with devices dismounted soldiers use, including the Nett Warrior devices that deliver blue-force tracking and situational awareness information.
“The ability to upload everything that was significant after a patrol, and to know that anybody on that network can see what I uploaded, is a great asset,” said Staff Sgt. Scott Harrison, who’s with the task analysis branch of the Maneuver Center of Excellence Directorate of Training and Doctrine.
The Nett Warrior device has been an incredibly useful asset to dismounted soldiers; it allows dismounted leaders to see their locations, their soldiers’ locations and locations of known enemies moving on a map.
“The overall goal of the MCE is to bring together the diverse mission command systems that are on the platforms today, reducing redundant software services and shrinking the command and control hardware footprint,” Nancy Jones-Bonbrest, PEO C3T, said in a release on the Army site. “To do this, PM JBC-P is capitalizing on the current FBCB2/BFT hardware that is integrated on more than 120,000 platforms.”
A contract issued by PM JBC-P would develop a common hardware for mounted platforms, known as the Mounted Family of Computer Systems. The new capability would bring “interoperability through standardized tactical computers that are scalable and tailorable to the mission and vehicle” as well as reduce weight, size and power demands.