Engineers Seek New Edge for Warfighters
By Christen N. McCluney
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity
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.”