Army begins process to upgrade hardware, software for 400 operational units

The Army is just a few weeks into what’s likely to be one of the largest tactical IT upgrades in its recent history: updating the hardware and software used and carried by 400 deployable units across the active-duty Army, the National Guard and the Army Reserve.

By the time the project is finished in 2019, officials say they will have consolidated 12 different versions of hardware and software that are now fielded across the Army into a single, common baseline, making the service’s mission command systems simpler to use, easier to train on and significantly more cyber secure.

The version reduction project is an effort to correct a proliferation of various software and IT equipment that was gradually deployed to combat units in a non-standard way, mostly in response to urgent needs throughout the course of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Given the amount of time it takes this organization to fully field [mission command software] to the entire Army, we just couldn’t keep up with the amount of versions that were being demanded by the operational force,” Col. Troy Crosby, the project manager for mission command, said in an extensive interview for Federal News Radio’s On DoD.

Col. Troy Crosby, project manager for mission command

So, in 2016, Army Forces Command asked Crosby’s organization — part of the Army Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO-C3T) — to find ways to bring Army units to a common level of modernization and simplify future network modernization projects.

To complete the upgrades, the Army is using its standard “unit set fielding” process, a procedure in which equipment installations and training are all handled at one location. That process would normally take around five years to accomplish, considering the number of units involved, but the project management office plans to finish the job in just two years.

“The accelerated timeline is probably our biggest challenge,” said…

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