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Sustainment Technologies for BCT Modernization

As the Army undertakes a brigade combat team modernization program, new technologies can improve sustainment of both the current and future forces.

Sustainment technologies managed by the Program Executive Office (PEO) Integration under the Army’s Brigade Combat Team Modernization (BCTM) Plan offer great potential benefits to the sustainment community and the Soldier. These new technologies can provide situational awareness of logistics from the enterprise level (such as the Army Materiel Command, the Department of Defense [DOD] Global Information Grid, and industry) to the warfighter level.

The Army established PEO Integration in October 2009 following the Secretary of Defense’s decision to cancel the Future Combat Systems (FCS) program. The Secretary instructed the Army to transition to a modernization program consisting of a number of integrated acquisition programs. PEO Integration manages acquisition programs that support BCTM.

BCTM offers two main challenges to sustainers. One is to insert into current force platforms new sustainment technologies that can assess the readiness of those platforms and the infantry brigade combat team (IBCT) by transmitting embedded sensor data throughout the IBCT and back to the enterprise. The other is to align new sustainment technologies with the ongoing development of the Army’s Common Logistics Operating Environment (CLOE) architecture so that the current force and BCTM can work smoothly with the Army’s logistics enterprise.

Condition Based Maintenance Plus

DOD Instruction 4151.22, Condition Based Maintenance Plus (CBM+) for Materiel Maintenance, defines CBM+ as “the primary reliability driver in the total life-cycle systems management (TLCSM) supportability strategy of the Department of Defense.”

The capabilities required to implement this instruction include enhanced diagnostics and prognostics, failure trend tracking, electronic maintenance aids, serialized item management, automatic identification technology, and interactive maintenance training. Program managers are required to optimize operational readiness through affordable, integrated, embedded diagnostics and prognostics.

BCTM Sustainment Technologies

The main BCTM sustainment technologies are the Platform Soldier-Mission Readiness System (PS−MRS), Logistics Decision Support System (LDSS), and Logistics Data Management Service (LDMS). The PS−MRS provides diagnostic and prognostic capabilities through the Vehicle Embedded PS−MRS (VE−PS−MRS) and the PS−MRS Decision Accuracy Validation System (PDAVS), respectively
LDSS provides maintenance management functionality within the IBCT. It supports the overall sustainment concept for BCTM by providing logistics operation planning and execution capabilities.

LDMS provides the status and location of national-level assets of BCTM spares and repair parts to product support integrators and enables a guaranteed level of performance and system capability. Its capabilities equate to performance-based logistics (PBL).

Sustainment technologies will provide critical logistics data in two areas defined by the warfighter as crucial for BCTM. One is running estimates of mileage, hours of operation, fuel consumption, health status of platforms, and critical consumables (fuel, battery, coolant, and potentially oil). These data must be delivered in near-real time.

The other area is data on sustainment tasks. The technologies provide all of the data a crew chief operator needs to perform maintenance. These data must be delivered in less than 15 minutes to ensure that operating tempo is maintained. The data will allow the operator to open up a job request through LDSS, close out a job, order parts, receive parts, update the digital logbook, and host the Interactive Electronic Technical Manual (IETM) on the handheld controller. The IETM allows the warfighter to read the platform’s technical manual for repair and diagnostics.

Current Force Sustainment Capabilities

The current force has these capabilities:

  • Manual troubleshooting and built-in tests.
  • Manual data entry of parts orders, which is subject to human error.
  • Use of the Commodity Command Standard System and Standard Army Maintenance System. These are enhanced software that use automated, 1960s-era 80-column card data formats. They are slowly being replaced by the Logistics Modernization Program and the Global Command Support System-Army, which are enterprise resource planning systems.
  • A manual process for entering repair parts requested into logistics Standard Army Management Information Systems.
  • Manual entry of logistics status report joint variable-message-format messages into the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) system.

Compared to the capabilities of the proposed BCTM sustainment technologies, current force systems face the following deficiencies:

  • Frequent downtime, resulting in lower operational readiness rates.
  • Increased costs for spares.
  • Antiquated automation, resulting in high error rates and higher costs to populate the logistics pipeline.
  • Extended delay time for executing administrative logistics tasks.
  • Manual entry of data, resulting in added downtime and reduced operational readiness.

Technologies for the CLOE Architecture

System design without logistics in mind is not sustainable over the system’s life cycle. Readiness assessment and the transfer of sustainment data within the theater of operations to the DOD enterprise can be realized with the products being developed by BCTM and the architecture developed by CLOE.

CLOE’s architecture, a design for CBM+, is named the Army Integrated Logistics Architecture (AILA). AILA is the tool used to establish the operational views, technical standards, and intersystem relationships that will govern the design and implementation of Army logistics information processes during the transition from the current to the future force.

BCTM sustainment technologies will provide the capabilities to realize the AILA architecture for PEO Integration. BCTM sustainment technology products PS−MRS (for diagnostics and prognostics), IETM (for interactive digital technical manuals), LDSS (for planning sustainment resupply), and LDMS (for achieving PBL) are naturally linked to AILA.

Current Force Upgrade

The PS−MRS can be used to determine the health status of current force platforms. That can be done by connecting the Network Integration Kit (NIK) to the diagnostic data ports already present on current force platforms. The cost of integrating PS−MRS technology should be minimal since the diagnostic data ports already exist on the current force platforms.

To use the full capabilities of PS−MRS and LDSS to generate a common operating picture (COP) for logistics in increment 2 of BCTM, NIK can be integrated with the current force platforms. This will permit the health condition of the network node (the Integrated Computer System) and the health status of the platform to be reported to the IBCT.

Current force platforms use FBCB2 in radio communications to other platforms. A way to extend logistics data beyond FBCB2 for the warfighter would be to communicate logistics data through the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers communication protocol (IEEE 802.xxy) inserted onto the NIK. This design consideration is already fielded with the use of the IEEE 802.xxy protocol used by the Combat Service Support Automated Information Systems Interface that interfaces with the very small aperture terminal.

Information Assurance

BCTM sustainment technologies must meet the challenge of information assurance (IA) compliance. The PS−MRS interacts with data at the platform level, but the LDSS rolls these platform data up to provide readiness status and capability. Hence, the LDSS is classified while PS−MRS data are not classified.

In the network world, the LDSS transfers its information using the Secure Internet Protocol Router Network and the PS−MRS transfers its information via the Non-Secure Internet Protocol Router Network (NIPRNET). In order for the PS−MRS, with tactical unclassified information (TUI), to communicate with the LDSS, with secret information, a cross-domain solution has to be developed to allow the classified and TUI products to communicate with each other within each platform’s NIK.

The PS−MRS data residing on the TUI enclave on the NIK currently do not have a networked path up to the logistics assets within the IBCT. This is due to a mismatch of security enclaves. A controlled interface (CI) between TUI and NIPRNET needs to be defined to accommodate the necessary protections. The CI may be located in the enterprise. The benefit of an enterprise location is that it allows for the management of a single CI rather than the management of multiple embedded CIs on the battlefield.

Another benefit of using a singular CI is that the verification of a singular CI in sanctuary may be less expensive than having to verify the IA for multiple embedded CIs across the platforms.

The Department of the Army G−4 and CBM+ requirements can be realized with PEO Integration’s BCTM sustainment technologies. These BCTM sustainment technologies (PS−MRS, LDSS, and LDMS), coupled to the AILA architecture, will achieve the requirements of CBM+, the desires of the Army G−4, and the advantages of a common logistics data set. Current force platforms can be upgraded to PEO Integration sustainment technologies by using the existing diagnostic ports on the platform. Once integrated, logistics data can be disseminated across the IBCT and into the logistics enterprise, providing the commanders a common operational picture for logistics.

With BCTM sustainment technologies, Army commanders and logisticians will have logistics situational awareness and logistics theater planning through automation. The commander and logistician will receive resupply plans while they address the adversary, allowing the operating tempo of the battle to be continuous. With BCTM sustainment technologies, the logistics footprint will be reduced because commanders and logisticians will know the location of all assets in the theater and can use automation to efficiently resupply and repair weapons for the warfighter.

Thomas Hosmer is the lead sustainment architect for logistics products at the Program Executive Office Integration.

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