18 Feb 05. The need for advanced Command Post technology was highlighted during the AUSA winter meeting with a briefing from Northrop Grumman and Brigadier General Philip Coker, Director, Capabilities Developments, Futures Centre HQ, TRADOC.
“For those of you who have fought battles in the dark, under fire in cold wet weather, the lay-out of one’s command post can make all the difference to the success or failure of a battle,” Coker said, “Many of us have entered CP’s and tripped over wires and machines thus blanking-out current force positions and manoeuvres. In addition, Commanders and Liaison Officers moving between forces will often come across different CP layout and systems. We believe that to achieve essential force performance in battle, all Command Posts must be built on a common platform and operating environment. Not only should the systems be common and centrally linked the Command Post itself should have no internal support posts which may exclude the commander’s vision of the developing battle. In addition we must ensure that these Command Posts are also available in aerial platforms whilst the Commander is visiting his forward echelons and in mechanised systems for advancing mechanised troops.” BATTLESPACE covered the Advanced Command Post on the move developed specifically for OIF.
The U.S. Army recognised the urgent need for new Command Post technology and in August selected Northrop Grumman Corporation as prime contractor for the Command
Post Platform (CPP) Development and Integration Program. Valued at up to $400m over the next five years, the award includes an initial $26m contract for the design and construction of 10 prototype command posts.
Lt. General. Wallace of V Corps said, “Operation OIF underlined the urgent need for new command post technology. It was a disaster during OIF, give me a common set of sensors and the ability to plan collectively. In the past we spent 4-6 hours in the command post, now it can be as little as 10 minutes or even on the move.”
As prime contractor, Northrop Grumman will develop and field Army command posts, where commanders direct operations and control forces. CPP provides common command centers with advanced command-and-control hardware and technology to give commanders improved control over their digital forces using Force XXI FBCB2 and other Army battlefield command systems. It will also allow soldiers and officers to move between echelons without having to retrain command-post operations.
“Northrop Grumman is committed to the effective and timely transformation of the U.S. Army,” said Otto Günter of Northrop Grumman during AUSA, “This award validates how Northrop Grumman can leverage the deep, broad capabilities and knowledge resident in its sectors to bring truly transformational systems to military operations. Our strong partnership with the Army in developing and fielding battle command-and-control systems such as FBCB2 and Blue Force Tracking will be instrumental in assuring success of the CPP program.”
Following the initial 18 month contract award, the Army will execute follow-on options to develop command posts for Stryker Brigade Combat Teams 5 and 6, which will become the first units equipped with the operational test units. Full-rate production options, which begin in 2006 and continue through 2010, will equip the remaining Army units.
The current contract requires 10 active Divisions in 10 years and 10 Brigades with 26 shelters per Division and 9-11 foe separate Brigades. The first equipped Division will be 1st Cavalry Division prior to deployment to Iraq in October. This requirement could grow to as much as $1.4bn as the U.S. Army moves to equip command posts at the Battalion and lower level. Extra money for CPP has been requested in a Defense Budget supplemental. In addition the Marine Corps is discussing the need for new systems and U.S. Allies. “The UK has developed some good ideas for new co