Communications Network Becomes Chartered Program


ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, MD -- As the second generation of the Army's tactical communications network backbone prepares to begin fielding in October, the third generation of the network also moves ahead, becoming a formally chartered program.

Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2 provides an initial on-the-move communications network down to the company level, while Increment 3 builds on previous increments, providing advanced capabilities including an air tier that will extend connectivity across the battlefield and improve network availability for "full" networking on-the-move.

"Today the Army and the OSD [Office of the Secretary of Defense] recognized the criticality of WIN-T Increment 3 as a formally charted ACAT [Acquisition Category] 1D program," said Lt. Col. Robert Collins, product manager (PdM) for WIN-T Increment 2, and outgoing PdM for WIN-T Increment 3. "It is certainly a rewarding and exciting time personally and professionally, and I look forward to many exciting times ahead."To commemorate the historic event, incoming PdM for WIN-T Increment 3, Lt. Col. Joseph W. Roberts, assumed the PdM WIN-T Increment 3 charter from Collins during a change of charter ceremony held at the Myer Auditorium in Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. on June 29. Collins will continue with his ongoing position as PdM for WIN-T Increment 2.

"Rob has been managing two ACAT 1D programs for the Department Of Defense over the last two years; normally programs that size would each be led by an O6 [colonel]," said Col. Ed Swanson, project manager (PM) for WIN-T, who hosted the ceremony. "He has done a phenomenal job."

Similar to a home Internet connection, WIN-T Increment 1 provides Soldiers with high-speed, high-capacity voice, data and video communications down to battalion level units "at-the-halt." WIN-T Increment 2 introduces networking radios; enhances Network Operations (NetOps) for network planning and monitoring; pushes capability to the company level and supports operations while "on-the-move." It is a vital piece of Capability Set 13 -- the first integrated group of network technologies that will be fielded to Army brigade combat teams starting in October 2012.

The capabilities of WIN-T Increment 2 were recently put to the test in harsh realistic operational environments during its three-week Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E), which wrapped up on schedule at the end of May. The test was conducted in conjunction with the Army's Network Integration Evaluation 12.2, the third in a series of semi-annual evaluations designed to rapidly integrate and mature the Army's tactical network. The bulk of the IOT&E was held at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), N.M.; however, to truly stress and test the network, WIN-T Increment 2 nodes were spread across 2,000 miles of the United States and the test involved more than 4,000 Soldiers and civilians.

"Rob recently completed a very large complex challenging test of the WIN-T Increment 2 program down at White Sands Missile Range, and now he is standing in the door ready to start fielding that capability, the Army's first on-the-move capability for their tactical network," Swanson said. "Well done."

The third generation of the network, WIN-T Increment 3, is still in the development phase, but it will continue the further development of "full" on-the-move networking capabilities. WIN-T Increment 3 is making advancements in NetOps, the communication officer's tool to command and control the network. It also continues developmental testing on the JC4ISR radio, which combines a number of WIN-T waveforms into one Software Defined Radio. The radio makes great strides in improving throughput range and capacity, while reducing size, weight and power requirements.

One of the premier components of WIN-T Increment 3 is the addition of an air tier layer to the WIN-T architecture to extend connectivity across the battlefield and improve network availability. PM WIN-T continues to develop and test a communication package to attach to an aerial platform that will offload network communications from satellite transponders to the aerial tier, enhancing the reliability of the network. With the addition of the air tier, the Soldier will then possess a three-tiered communication network (terrestrial, air and celestial) providing maximum flexibility and connectivity in support of full spectrum combat operations.

"This is a phenomenal program with a phenomenal team running it," said Roberts, incoming PdM for WIN-T Increment 3. "Rob has left some big shoes for me to fill."

In his previous position Roberts served as the Operations Officer for the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Procurement).

Currently on schedule for a fiscal year 2015 Milestone C decision, WIN-T Increment 3's limited user testing is scheduled for early 2015, with its operational test and fielding projected for the 2018 timeframe.

"What this combined team has done over the past several years has been nothing short of remarkable," Collins said to the PM WIN-T workforce during the ceremony. "All of you on the team should be proud of your accomplishments and what we have done in support of our nation and our Soldiers. The most rewarding part of my job has been getting to know and getting to work with each one of you -- the folks that make it happen."

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