Stephanie Meloni

OPINION

DOD combat commands need situational awareness

The DOD’s Combat Commands (COCOMs) present unique sales challenges and opportunities to the COTS community. They can be complex both in their funding processes and in how they integrate and operate with the rest of the Services and the DOD.

The COCOMs’ technology needs boil down to one thing: achieving situational awareness. Cybersecurity will always be an underlying need, but the Commands need to know what’s happening on their networks, they need access to data across multiple disparate infrastructures, and they need to make meaningful use of that data. A number of solutions that COTS vendors offer can help the COCOMs in accomplishing this mission.

Let’s look at opportunities within the functional COCOMs – Special Operations Command (SOCOM), Transportation Command (TRANSCOM), and Strategic Command (STRATCOM, specifically the Cyber Command, or CYBERCOM). We’ll focus on IT trends and drivers, and relevant programs each of these organizations handles.

Special Operations Command (SOCOM)

SOCOM’s FY16 budget request is $286M, including minor year-over-year increases for both Steady State (Op Ex) and DME (Cap Ex) funding. The increase in funds for FY16 will largely be utilized to improve their networking capabilities. Warfighters need to be able to set up networking capabilities quickly, and these SOCOM investments will allow them to stay connected to their home bases and other warfighters to achieve situational awareness. Often times, warfighters work in degraded and/or contested environments.

So in addition to needing connectivity, mobility, and network administration solutions, they also require accompanying network security, threat awareness, and cybersecurity capabilities.

Here are a few key initiatives for SOCOM to keep in mind:

SCAMPI. SCAMPI is a major initiative that serves as the information highway between respective Special Forces stakeholders. SOCOM relies on this to stay connected and communicate; and they are currently focusing on overhauling and reducing their networking footprint via network consolidation.  Additionally, increased funding in FY16 will be used to purchase solutions which will help with unified communications, network security, network monitoring, and reporting.

HQC4I. This program funds the sustainment of SOCOM’s networks. Increased requests for FY16 funds represent a need to build communications capabilities, improve network bandwidth, and implement technical refreshes. HQC4I leverages the Special Operations Forces IT Enterprise Contracts (SITEC) contract. SITEC uses this $1B vehicle to purchase IT service management, enterprise network services, data center services, and application management. There will be a new round of SITEC RFPs in the summer of 2016.

Transportation Command (TRANSCOM)

TRANSCOM’s FY16 IT budget request represents a 10% decrease from FY15 enacted levels. TRANSCOM is tasked with providing global distribution capabilities to DOD, so they have to deal with planning and management as personnel and cargo are moved around – resulting in massive amounts of data that needs to be managed.

TRANSCOM experiences the same challenges as SOCOM, but with logistics data instead of intelligence data. Along with data protection, TRANSCOM needs data analysis capabilities to save on operations costs. Helping them achieve efficiencies (from maintaining equipment through the lifecycle, to identifying new routes or ways to move people and equipment) will save them money.

Below are two programs funded by TRANSCOM:

IGC. The Integrated Data Environment – Global Transportation Network Convergence (IGC) program relies on COTS technologies to achieve visibility into logistical data. The program integrates information from the DOD distribution and supply chain. IGC shares data between TRANSCOM and the Defense Logistics Agency, providing in-transit visibility and tracking of TRANSCOM’s assets. Some of the program’s ongoing initiatives in the next year will include migrating away from legacy systems and integrating data with other DOD systems. IGC relies heavily on COTS products for database management and integration, storage, and data warehousing and protection.

GDSS. GDSS (Global Decision Support System) is the TRANSCOM system that provides command and control capabilities to the planning and management of airlift missions. Because GDSS supports airlift missions, the Air Force serves as the executive agent for TRANSCOM and manages the program. They will be integrating data and applications for optimal mission planning, as well as storing, sharing, and protecting that data. The system needs to manage various levels of access for these different users with different needs, so identity and access management has a play here.

Cyber Command (CYBERCOM)

For now, CYBERCOM is a sub-unified command reporting to STRATCOM. It has a unique and complicated budgeting process, with funding coming out of the DOD IT Cyber budget. In terms of IT spending, CYBERCOM is looking at a 7% decrease in funding from FY15 enacted levels. But at $463M, that’s still a lot of addressable money.

Returning to the theme of situational awareness, CYBERCOM needs the ability to know what is happening in cyberspace. They’re aiming to build a common operating picture for cyber activities, which will provide better synchronization of network defense activities. CYBERCOM also wants more information sharing on cyber threats between the Services and key partners.

DISA NetOps. CYBERCOM doesn’t have any of its own IT programs, but the DISA NetOps contributes to CYBERCOM operations funding. It’s managed out of DISA’s Operations Directorate, and provides network command and control for DISA’s Theater Network Operations Centers. It’s also being used to fund CYBERCOM information assurance and defensive cyber operations activities. The funding from this investment will be leveraged to achieve full operational capability for the Joint Forces Headquarters DOD Information Networks (JFHQ-DoDIN).

Situational Awareness Needs, by Command

The COCOMs all operate differently, are funded differently, and manage their programs differently – so it may seem difficult to tie together their technology needs. But if you look at the technologies that the functional COCOMs need to purchase, they really filter down to helping them attain situational awareness.
At SOCOM, remember networking and connectivity will drive their situational awareness in the battlefield, and all other solutions they require will tie into that. TRANSCOM will be more focused on logistics data and protecting it in their supply chain. At CYBERCOM (in addition to the obvious need for cyber capabilities), establishing a cyber common operating picture is going to be key to all of their offensive and defensive activities.

Vendors need to keep all of these top priorities in mind as they meet with customers to help fit products into existing requirements, and need to tailor messaging around solutions to help the COCOMs achieve visibility into their operations. Government customers will want to hear how technologies and solutions will help the functional COCOMs with their ultimate goal of achieving situational awareness for warfighters in the battlefield.



About the Author

Stephanie Meloni is a manager in the Market Intelligence Team of immixGroup, an Arrow company, which helps technology companies do business with the government. She can be reached at Stephanie_Meloni@immixgroup.com or connect with her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/stephaniemeloni.

Reader Comments

Mon, Jul 13, 2015 Ken Szmed DC

I'm sure some if not many would disagree with me, but the Combatant Commanders (CCDRs), most notably the Geographic or Regional CCDRs, are not "designed" (intended) to command and control troops - to operationally C2 forces. They are resource providers and enablers for fielded forces. They establish JTFs and subunified commands which are manned and organized to C2 forces conducting contingency and/or crisis operations. The "Functional" CCDRs are different animals; you are right in focusing on them as they require extensive SA in the conduct of their mission to support and enable those fielded forces that are assigned or allocated to a geographical CCDR that are actually conducting operations. OF course SOCOM is a bit of it's own case altogether. This all notwithstanding, geographic CCDRs could certainly do with much better SA in the conduct of their theater security cooperation efforts - the steady-state, phase zero activities they are directed and responsible to conduct. There is great opportunity in this if one can get their arms - and mind, around the myriad JSPS processes and the various geographic CCDRs.

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