Defense continues push to create single systems platform

Defense continues push to create single systems platform

BY DAWN S. ONLEY | GCN STAFF

A warfighter in Bosnia learned the hard way that each PC in a shipment to U.S. command centers relied on separate software to perform different functions.

He operated as a 'human systems interoperator integrator,' rolling his swivel chair from one PC to another'set up on rows and rows of tables'to view data ranging from logistics and intelligence to navigation, communications and air defense.

With the Defense Information Infrastructure's Common Operating Environment, the warfighter could access all that data on one computer. DII COE is an open, client-server environment.

Clients access DII COE through standard application programming interfaces or routines throughout an application program that carries out lower-level operating system tasks.

Using systems built around DII COE, the soldier could find out where military forces are deployed, track personnel and supplies, detect military targets, download maps and access up-to-date weather reports. Under the Defense Information Systems Agency program that promotes interoperability among applications for command, control, communications, computers and intelligence, the warfighter can become an information warrior at the click of a mouse.

'The goal is to have an integrated view of the battlefield,' said Jackie Lawrence, vice president and technical director for the Logicon command, control, communications, computer intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance systems integration operating unit.

It's been nearly two years since DISA awarded Logicon Inc., a Northrop Grumman company in Herndon, Va., a $47.5 million, three-year contract to develop and maintain software, and provide other technical support for DII COE.

Contract may recompete

But DISA has been working on the COE concept for far longer, nearly a decade. A DISA representative said the agency hasn't decided whether it will recompete the Logicon contract, which expires next March.

Lawrence and Alan Leckenby, vice president and general manager of Logicon's international research institute, recently held a briefing on the status and challenges of implementing DII COE, which is the mandatory foundation for all Defense Department command and control systems.

Logicon's role is to develop the common operational picture components for the kernel, a DISA official said. The picture is the 'primary command and control component software within the COE and has been adopted for use by all of the services' primary command and control systems,' the official said.

There are still functional legacy systems within DOD that do not have integrated capabilities, Lawrence said. But he touted the success of the Joint Chiefs of Staff's Global Command and Control System and the core Global Combat Support System as indicators the DII COE effort has made significant progress.

Logicon helped integrate the systems, both of which use the DII COE kernel.

The current version of DII COE uses 60 percent to 70 percent off-the-shelf products.

DISA wants to achieve interoperability through a combination of approaches:

• Selecting commercial products that meet currently accepted industry standard interfaces and protocols

• Maintaining backward compatibility between releases

• Reusing common software developed to meet industry standards.

At the briefing, Leckenby demonstrated some of what a warfighter would see with an integrated system: joint mapping, management tracking and communications with external systems and sensors.

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