General Dynamics to continue Marine ops work

Originally published Dec. 17 at 12:39 p.m.; updated Dec. 31 at 11:11 a.m.

(UPDATED) General Dynamics Corp. has agreed to provide six portable combat operations centers to upper-level Marine Corps commands under a $38 million modification of an existing contract.

Since 2002, when the contract was initially awarded, the Marines have ordered 220 combat operations centers for regimental- and battalion-level units. So far, 145 centers have been delivered at a cost of $464 million, said Kevin Chapman, program manager with the company's Arizona-based C4 Systems unit, which is performing the work.

The contract addition is intended to bring the combat operations centers' capabilities to the division level, the next link in the Marine Expeditionary Forces chain of command, said Bill Johnson-Miles, a spokesman for the Marine Corps Systems Command. The new operations centers also address the needs of Marine air wing and logistics commands, he said.

Combat operations centers help Marine units stay connected on the battlefield. The centers use standardized equipment and operating systems, and are designed to be moved quickly from one location to the next. Under the contract, General Dynamics also provides the tents, trailers, radios and power generators to house and operate the centers; equipment.

The centers ordered for the higher-echelon commands will be designed to meet the command-and-control needs of larger units. Each will feature networked workstations and servers to support tactical data systems and other mission-critical software, as well as voice, data and voice-over-Internet protocol communications.

During the five years that General Dynamics has been working on the operations centers, the Marine Corps has used lessons learned in Iraq and during training exercises to suggested changes to the system, Johnson-Miles said. That "feedback has allowed the Marine Corps to continuously evolve the command operations centers to meet our needs," he said.

As an example, he cited the initial deployment of the command operations centers to Iraq. General Dynamics designed the centers to be housed in tents that the contractor provided as part of the design, but some commanders wanted to put them in buildings instead.

To meet the request, the contractor and the Marine Corps worked together to design and field a cable kit so that the command centers could be set up properly inside a structure instead of a tent when necessary. The adaptation "has provided commanders with increased flexibility," Johnson-Miles said.

Key subcontractors on the project are QinetiQ North America of McLean and Applied Companies of Valencia, Calif. The number of employees working on the project depends on the type of work being performed at a given time and fluctuates from between 20 to 50, Chapman said.

General Dynamics C4 Systems of Scottsdale, Ariz., is a unit of General Dynamics of Falls Church, Va. The parent company ranks No. 7 on Washington Technology's 2007 Top 100 list of the largest federal government prime contractors.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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