The Army acquires its new tactical network tools

WASHINGTON – The Army Network Modernization Program Office has started sourcing its first iteration of new network tools, known as the Capability Set ’21.

The Command, Control and Communications of the Army Program Executive Office received mid-level acquisition clearance for the ’21 Capability Set in July this year, according to Paul Mehney, director of public communications. in the office. Four infantry brigade combat teams will receive the ’21 capability set equipment during exercise 2021.

PEO C3T will purchase the ’21 Capability Set to support the commissioning of the new tools to Stryker Infantry and Brigade Combat Teams from FY21 to FY23. The tools in Capability Set ’21 will serve as the basis for Capability Set ’23, which will focus on enhancing resilient communication capabilities in contested environments.

In April, the Army Network team completed its critical review of the ’21 Capability Set. During the review, he finalized decisions regarding the types and amounts of technology needed across brigades, such as the number of single-channel radios versus leader radios.

“Critical design was as much about making sure we ended up with a design we could afford to buy in the quantities promised as it was about exploring specific technical issues,” then-Maj said. General David Bassett, who led PEO C3T and is now a three-star general as director of the Defense Contract Management Agency.

For example, Bassett said, during the critical design review, the team believed they could have a smaller amount of leader radios, which are two-channel radios, and a larger amount of radios. single channel. The military eventually returned to the original quantities it envisioned and reduced the number of single-channel radios while increasing the number of leader radios.

On satellite communication terminals, the military had to grapple with the affordability of the number of terminals. Bassett said they ultimately landed on a “middle ground” of satellite communications terminals, and Gallagher said that would be “a lot” more than what the units have today.

The military experimented with some emerging technologies for Capability Set ’21, but decided to carry them over to Capability Set ’23 for reasons of affordability or lack of technical maturity.

“The answer is not that we never want them, but simply that we don’t have enough confidence in these capabilities and their affordability in that time frame to include them in our [Capability Set] ’21 baseline, ‘Bassett said.

When the Army’s cross-functional network team started working on the ’21 Capability Set a few years ago, they were looking for existing technologies that could address the network capacity gaps. In Capability Set 21, the military is looking for “smaller, lighter, faster” and “more options” capabilities on networked transport.

According to Col. Garth Winterle, project manager, the critical design review for Capability Set 21 has also changed from a 100% classified network to a secure but unclassified network at the battalion level and 75%. below, which will save money and time with security clearances. for tactical radio at PEO C3T.

The military also plans to go through a competitive procurement process for technology, Winterle told C4ISRNET in an interview in May.

Wherever “where there was replacement capacity where we know from market research that there are other suppliers, we will take the same type of competitive actions,” said Winterle.

Andrew Eversden covers all defense technologies for C4ISRNET. He previously reported on Federal IT and Cyber ​​Security for Federal Times and Fifth Domain, and worked as a Congressional Reporting Officer for the Texas Tribune. He was also an intern in Washington for the Durango Herald. Andrew graduated from the American University.

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