Special Section / TAC COMMS / RUGGED ON MOVE
Digitizing the Force A U.S. Army project called Connecting Soldiers to Digital Applications is assessing the feasibility of leveraging emerging COTS cellular technologies to help soldiers access information across multiple domains. By Mike McCarthy, Director of Ops/PM Brigade Modernization Command
The Connecting Soldiers to Digital Applications (CSDA) project is about transforming how soldiers leverage rapidly evolving, game-changing technologies to become even more dominant both in battle and at home. In essence, the project is intended to fundamentally change how soldiers communicate and access information across a spectrum of domains and operational environments.
Domain-Centric Focus In an effort to accomplish the goals of the project, an approach was taken to allow for adjustments and refinements as the effort moved forward. The approach was organized to look at solutions across the operations, training, and administrative domains the Army functions within. To understand the potential of the technology, nothing could be looked at in isolation; it was evident from the very beginning that each domain was intertwined with the others. Instead of large long-term testing and evaluations, CSDA has leveraged small “Pilot Projects” as a means of looking at solutions in a rapid and low-cost manner. The projects continue to provide insights into various solutions across all domains and opportunities to conduct side-byside assessments of similar or competing technologies, allowing for cost-effective evaluations that serve as a basis for informing Army leadership of the value of the potential solutions without a significant financial investment. Critical to this effort is putting the solutions into the hands of soldiers early in the process and getting their direct and unfiltered feedback on the military utility of the solutions. By not tying the project to a fixed set of requirements but instead continuously looking at emerging solutions measured against a goal, CSDA ensures the solutions selected allow the Army to buy less more often and at the same time purchase the best and newest mobile solutions and technology it can afford.
14 | Armor & Mobility March 2013
The Guidance •F undamentally change how soldiers access information, training, and knowledge everywhere •C SDA must be an integral piece of the Campaign of Persistent Learning •F ind out if a single device can support administration and training, as well as operational, uses • Look for a systemic solution • Ensure device and operating system are agnostic • Conduct low-dollar-threshold actions and provide expertise to evaluate industry responses • Look to the Rapid Equipping Force model to quickly get technology into the hands of soldiers
The Goals •D efine best practices to provide our next-generation soldiers with emerging technologies and capabilities •D evelop approaches to create a persistent learning environment •E nable every soldier to access critical information in any setting •D evelop the means to update and disseminate relevant information at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods •S oldiers will select administrative, training, and tactical applications to accomplish their tasks •T ap into the modern soldier’s skill set to develop the vision and integration of smartphone technology
Multi-Network, Data Secure Since the inception of the CSDA project, information security and protection of data at rest, in process, and in transit have been a major concern. The Army CIO/G6, working with NETCOM, DISA, ARCYBER, and a host of other agencies, has led the CSDA efforts to create a safe and secure operating environment. The goal of this effort is to set the conditions for enabling the use of mobile devices on DoD controlled networks. Work continues to provide solutions that will enable users to eventually operate in multi-level security environments. The CSDA project has made significant progress in the use of mobile technologies in the training domain. Several schools and centers are currently conducting Pilot projects to move their curriculum from paper- and lecture-based formats to electronic
March 2013 issue of Armor & Mobility magazine, published by Tactical Defense Media