New collaborative environment synchronized Warfighter support

PEO C3T settles in at new home in Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.
By Leslie Roop and Amy Walker

With boots on the ground at its new location, the Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications–Tactical (PEO C3T) is collaborating in a new environment designed to enhance its support to the Warfighter and ability to better resolve issues in theater.

“As we synchronize efforts with our partners on post, our proximity will become closer, which will enhance our ability to support Warfighters located in vast regions across the globe,” said Brig. Gen. N. Lee S. Price, PEO for C3T.

With a force of more than 1,900 active duty military, civilian and on-site contractors supporting 41 key acquisition programs, PEO C3T has successfully transitioned to its new home at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), Md. During this complex process, the PEO has provided uninterrupted, transparent support to deployed, deploying and returning forces. By Sept. 15 of this year, it projects that more than 1,000 employees will be transferred from outlying locations including Fort Monmouth, N.J. and Fort Belvoir, Va., with the remainder of the workforce to be made up of new hires.

The relocation to APG will not be business as usual. The C4ISR Materiel Enterprise has been reorganized in a revolutionary mission-related domain structure that will greatly improve collaboration and efficiency. These domain structures are built around missions versus organizations, so the concept has placed personnel working on similar projects in the same locations. The Command, Control, Communications Network Transport (C2/CNT) domain, which is the primary mission of PEO C3T, is also its central location. All of the organizations supporting this mission – PEO C3T as well as other C4ISR Materiel Enterprise elements – have been consolidated into two buildings, instead of each organization and smaller sub-organization residing in their own buildings. Research and development, and contracting communities will reside in the same space as PEO C3T engineers. 

“Co-location allows them to rapidly share ideas and lessons-learned, while efficiently executing processes to increase the delivery of products to the Warfighter,” Price said.

As it builds partnerships with corporations outside APG's gates, PEO C3T will also synchronize efforts with its testing, logistics, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and research and development partners on post.

The main intent for the move and the creation of this collaborative environment was to achieve faster, more coordinated and cost-effective support to the Warfighter, said Stan Niemiec, PEO C3T’s product director for Base Realignment and Closure (PD BRAC).   

“We have the opportunity now to speak with one voice, a more coordinated voice,” Niemiec said. “We are going to be in daily contact with each other and as a result that should increase synchronized responses to the Warfighter.” 

Nearing its return to normal operations after several years of split-operations, PEO C3T will continue its dedicated support to theater in a more close-knit environment. The PEO’s components that were relocated to APG were consolidated into four large administrative buildings, a drastic change from the 30 smaller buildings it inhabited at Fort Monmouth. 

“Being co-located with the project and product manager (PM/PdM) organizations facilitates situational awareness, coordination and issue resolution,” said Joe Hollenbeck, PEO C3T’s Readiness Management Division director. “In particular, this co-location allows us to synchronize efforts in a manner that strengthens our collective ability in providing the right support at the right time and place to the Warfighter.” 

“A more collaborative work environment and close physical proximity closes gaps in information, knowledge and -- most importantly -- trust,” said Cecilia Burrus, deputy for PD BRAC. “There are more opportunities for personnel across the project manager offices to interact face-to-face with each other.” 

To better facilitate solutions for acquisition and rapid responses to requirements from the field, the staff now works in multiple small and large conference rooms, open meeting areas and common workspaces. They collaborate in close proximity with senior management and sister organizations to better support troops in the field.  

“We’ve been combined into a smaller footprint, which puts people closer to their compatriots, while organizational structures are closer to their missions,” Niemiec said.  “The closer proximity – as well as the experience of moving together as an organizational unit – has and will continue to provide many opportunities for cross-PM/PD collaboration within the PEO.”  

The experience of moving as a unit has uniquely bonded the workforce, with new opportunities to share lessons-learned and to explore new ways of working together, Burrus said. Raising the colors of PEO C3T in its new location has also created opportunities for more efficient processes and courses of action. 

 “A geographic shift in the workplace can affect a paradigm shift in mindset,” Burrus said. “The physical move provides for a new beginning.”

When the PMs were distributed across the 30 different buildings of Fort Monmouth’s main post and outlying Charles Wood area, there was a natural tendency to operate in a stovepiped manner -- as isolated work units, Niemiec said. While these units could focus on their customer individually, there were fewer opportunities to share knowledge and information between them.  

“Sharing information and resources enables more synchronized warfighter support,” Burrus said. “It breaks down barriers and creates opportunities to provide more capable solutions.”

By better tapping resources and knowledge, the PEO can also operate more efficiently. Redundant offices, personnel and capabilities are eliminated, reducing the overall cost of PEO C3T operations. 

“Coming together in our new location has been a terrific opportunity to review and streamline our business processes,” Price said. “We have already built efficiencies into our organization that will have a lasting impact long after this transition is complete.  By centralizing our operations, we will bolster both our internal interactions and our partnerships across the DOD and industry.”

The organization is also leveraging economies of scale that couldn’t be tapped into when spread across Forts Monmouth and Belvoir. Support functions like graphics were established in the individual PMs even though there was a headquarters-level graphics unit. PEO C3T will now be better able to share resources and distribute the workload more evenly. 

Consolidating administrative buildings down to just four, and its multiple storage facilities into one major storage facility, also reduces the cost of air conditioning, heat, electricity and many other support costs, Niemiec said. 

PEO C3T planned and executed the transition as it would in the support of any military operation, placing the main focus on the Soldier in the field. While coordinating with the other members of the C4ISR Materiel Enterprise community and the Army Corps of Engineers on how the new campus would take shape, PEO C3T moved to its new location and set up temporary work environments before the space was ready to inhabit. But as the organization transitions to normal operations, daily efforts are no longer temporary fixes but permanent solutions. PEO C3T is home and settled and continues to serve the Warfighter without having skipped a beat. 

“Aberdeen Proving Ground is the point of convergence for PEO C3T’s effort to develop, field, sustain and support networked battle command solutions for the Warfighter of today and tomorrow,” Price said. “The relocation will allow us to vigorously pursue our goals, from delivering the network to austere regions around the globe to empowering the company commander and dismounted Soldier with the right information to make critical decisions. Here, with our C4ISR partners, we are setting the stage for innovators of the next generation."

About the Authors

Leslie Roop is a government civilian who supports the Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T). Amy Walker is a staff writer for Symbolic Systems, Inc. supporting the Army’s Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T). This report was commissioned by the Content Solutions unit, an independent editorial arm of 1105 Government Information Group. Specific topics are chosen in response to interest from the vendor community; however, sponsors are not guaranteed content contribution or review of content before publication. For more information about 1105 Government Information Group Content Solutions, please email us at [email protected]