Military


Command Post of the Future [CPOF]

DARPA's Command Post of the Future [CPOF] is a software capability hosted on a computer system that currently provides collaboration and visualization for Army Division and Brigade commanders and staff. The CPOF software provides a collaborative operating environment, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), a highly intuitive, graphical user interface (GUI) and enhanced briefing capabilities. CPOF allows commanders from battalion level and higher to feed real-time situational awareness into the system and have that information available in text and graphic representation immediately by fellow commanders and operations officers at all levels. Inside the CPOF system network, operators can visualize the Commander's intent and COP as well as manipulate tactical data in a collaborative manner alone or with other operators. The system is a valuable planning and management tool. The system allows commanders to access real-time situational intelligence. It eliminates the need for a physical TOC by providing a rich enough virtual TOC through collaboration in a distributed operational environment.

This program created a system with radical new capabilities for improving decision making by operational commanders, providing dynamic tailored visualization and deep collaboration tools for improved situation awareness and course-of-action development and dissemination. The program introduced a radical new concept for future command environments, namely, the elimination of the fixed command post that will be replaced by battle command on the move. Introduction of the tools developed under this program allowed future command structures to be mobile and distributed, thus enabling reduction of staff sizes and allowing commanders to operate effectively while on the move.

CPOF provided the technology to both reduce the time required for decisions to be made in the field, and improve the quality of those decisions by leveraging deep collaboration, liquid information, and thought visualization throughout the collaborative environment. Thought visualization occurs when knowledge and understanding is transferred from one individual to another without the need of traditional explanation. CPOF seeks to leverage thought visualization by creating a collaborative workspace in which information propagates in such a way to reduce or eliminate the need for traditional explanation of actions. Liquid Information allows the data itself to be separate from the viewing space. This enables the commander to put that data into a number of different displays. In this way, the data becomes modular in that it can be moved and viewed in a number of different ways, depending on the display chosen. Deep collaboration in CPOF has been shown to markedly increase situational awareness in multiple studies.

The tools allow users of the system to unobtrusively view other's workspace, copy and track information requirements and begin parallel planning without having to request information. CPOF provides a robust 3-D visualization tool that allows users to collaboratively animate future plans and then seamlessly turn plans into execution tasks.

On July 23, 1999 BBN Technologies, Cambridge, Mass., was awarded an $8,500,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with a cost-plus-fixed-fee pricing arrangement for system integration work on the Command Post of the Future (CPOF) program. The goal of the CPOF program is to double the speed and quality of command decisions by developing the technology to create an adaptive, decision-centered visualization environment for the future commander and his immediate staff. Work will be performed in Cambridge, Mass., and is expected to be completed July 2003. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured through a broad agency announcement published in the Commerce Business Daily. In response to that announcement, 122 proposals were received, 82 were selectable and 19 were funded, including this award. Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, San Diego, Calif., is the contracting activity (N66001-99-D-8615).

On September 17, 1999 Global InfoTek, Inc., Vienna, Va., was awarded a $5,041,263 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to provide for design, development, test, evaluation, and demonstration support for the Command Post of the Future program. Expected contract completion date is Jan. 20, 2003. Solicitation issue date was April 24, 1998. Negotiation completion date was Sept. 15, 1999. Air Force Research Laboratory, Rome, N.Y., is the contracting activity (F30602-99-C-0263).

In October 1999 the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate awarded a $5,041,263 contract to Global InfoTek, Inc. (GITI) of Vienna, Va., for design, development, test, evaluation, and demonstration support for the Command Post of the Future program. The 40-month contract was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of Arlington, Va. The CPOF program goal is to develop advanced technology to create an adaptive, decision-centered, visualization environment for the future commander. The objective of the GITI agreement is to provide a framework and to integrate the individual technology development efforts into coherent Command Post of the Future concepts and systems for evaluation in the continuous series of decision experiments based on a cognitive system engineering model. In terms of architectures, GITI's approach was to allow emerging technologies to drive the technical architecture and emerging standards, while recognizing that an operational architecture and a system architecture are necessary in order to execute a meaningful CPOF experiment and demonstration.

Michael Blackstone, of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Contracts Management Office, reorganized the many CPOF performers and contracts into a single team with a prime contractor and key subcontractors to better support important mission requirements. Mr. Blackstone completed the many contracts in record time and enabled the new CPOF team to accelerate research to support US Joint Forces in Iraq.

Soldiers of the Army's 1st Cavalry Division put transformational technology to work in their day-to-day operations in Baghdad in 2004. The unit was the first to employ the "Command Post of the Future" in an operational environment. The division was responsible for operations in and around Baghdad. Division Commander Maj. Gen. Peter Chiarelli brought the system with him when he became division commander in July 2003. Before that, Chiarelli had been responsible for the Army Operations Center in the Pentagon when the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks occurred. He had seen demonstrations of the new command-post system by officials from the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency and immediately saw its value in operational situations, Hammond explained.

The unit's staff trained extensively on the new command-post system in the pre-deployment period. They were the first ones to take on the challenge, and there was some risk involved, to take this into an operational theater. During a 16 June 2004 visit to the division's headquarters, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz sat in on a briefing to the division headquarters staff, through the new command-post system, from the unit's five brigade commanders at their various locations throughout the city. As each brigade commander briefed, the other commanders and division staff were able to access the same map overlays instantly and listen in on the briefing. The 1st Cav employed the system at the brigade level. However, it can be used effectively down to the battalion level.

In August 2004 the Army awarded a 20-month, $33M contract to expand on the capabilities found in the system in OIF. The contract was to provide an improved system solution to the 3rd Infantry Division and software support to OIF, with $20M of the effort in software development alone. The tasks include: scale the system to support Corps to Battalion level operations; operate across multiple modes of communication; and integrate with existing C2 Systems.

Command Post of the Future subsequently deployed with multiple Army Divisions in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF). The Army's early operational assessment conducted in OIF (FEB 05) determined CPOF improved situational awareness, decreased time required for decision making, and increased clarity in information Command Post of the Future was reassigned to DARPA's ATO on March 17, 2005.

Dr. Anthony J. Tether, director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced the winners of the 2005 DARPA Awards for Excellence at DARPATech 2005, DARPA's 24th Systems and Technology Symposium, in Anaheim, Calif in August 2005. The Award for Sustained Excellence by a Performer was also presented to the Command Post of the Future (CPOF) Front-Line Team: ISX Corp. (Camarillo, Calif.); Global InfoTek Inc. (Reston, Va.); Oculus Info Inc. (Toronto, Ontario); SYS Technologies Inc. (San Diego, Calif.); and General Dynamics C4 Systems Viz (Pittsburgh, Pa.).

CPOF is scheduled to transition to the Army Program Executive Office Command, Control, and Communications Tactical (PEO C3T) in April 2006. Funding has been set aside by the Army - about $38M in RDT&E/Operations funding for FY04-FY06. CPOF within the Army has no ties to what is also being done in command and control with the FCS Program.

The mid-2005 version of CPOF was not sufficiently interoperable with Service and joint command and control systems. CPOF shortfalls are scheduled for resolution via functionality improvements throughout 2005-2006. CPOF does not employ MIL STD 2525B graphic control measures and symbols. Operational Graphics issues include limited CPOF interoperability with Digital Topographic Support System products. CPOF does not currently use standard National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) products without transformation into a CPOF compatible format. The current version of CPOF does not directly exchange Fire Support Coordination Measures (FSCM), Airspace Control Measures (ACM) and radar sensor data with AFATDS or ADOCS among other systems. CPOF developed interfaces to the current version of C2PC without the proffered help from the C2PC project office on the current/future versions of C2PC. CPOF incorporated pre-existing position location technology latencies that can become a significant issue in the close fight as to "who is where when". CPOF server maintenance and data back up procedures are areas of concern.

CPOF appears to provide capabilities not found in the Army such as VoIP, 3-D graphics, briefing tools, collaboration tools and support products. The introduction of enhanced tools has fostered user satisfaction. The army user did not look at the whole integrated capability but rather focused on the supporting new technologies. As of mid-2005 CPOF had yet to address mobility/ruggedness requirements as it has been in a stable environment. There was considerable investment needed to ensure COTS equipment can meet durability and transportation needs in an intense conflict environment.




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