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US 1st Army trains on new software suite that enhances warfighting capability

A nascent computer software program and its associated server hardware are providing a user-friendly way for Soldiers to hone their Warfighting function skills. For US 1st Army, it will also mean a way to make the deployment process for Reserve Component units a smoother one. Additionally, it will provide a valuable tool to First Army in the event of a Large-Scale Mobilization Operation. Warren Marlow reports.
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1st Army Soldiers and civilians familiarize themselves with the Command Post Computing Environment system during training at First Army headquarters on Rock Island Arsenal, Ill. (Picture source: U.S. Army/Master Sgt. Daniel Symonds)

1st Army Soldiers and civilians learned about the program, called the Command Post Computing Environment — also called CPCE — during training conducted at 1st Army headquarters the final week of January.

Luther Thomas, First Army G3 Operations deputy, said : “CPCE will provide a secure platform from which the 1st Army Staff can produce a Common Operation Picture in order to provide the First Army Command the sufficient time and information to make decision with regards to LSMO”.

One of the students, Lt. Col. Joe Myers, serves as First Army chief of current operations. He related how the CPCE will benefit First Army and its partnered Reserve Component units. “It is a very tactically efficient system. If you’re looking at tracking where a unit is and what its unit-specific requirements are, it’s very good for that,” he said. “First Army will mainly use it for the orders process and the tracking of information requirements, requests for information, and as a system to track readiness and movement of personnel along the deployment timeline.”

Jesse Farris, a senior consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton, served as instructor for the training. He explained that the CPCE “provides server hardware that hosts a comprehensive suite of software applications and services upon which warfighting functions can be converged and future applications can be built.”

Farris described the CPCE as an improvement on its predecessor, the Command Post of the Future, or CPOF. “CPOF was a lot heavier, took longer to move it, and was harder to set up,” Farris explained. “CPCE is 800 pounds lighter, comes in three boxes instead of nine, is easy to break down, easy to set up and easy to learn. You can learn most of this in four hours. CPOF took a three-day class”.

Besides those advantages, the system also helps Soldiers work through various issues that arise during training events. “It facilitates planning, it shows them how to do warning orders FRAGOs, and Op Orders,” Farris said. “It has templates for everything, and goes through the Military Decision Making Process and has all the steps and has all the tools in there to build it. It has running estimates, it has the execution matrix, all the doctrine, battle drills, and battle rhythm. None of that was in CPOF”. In addition, Farris continued, CPCE “gives the commander the common operational picture and all the external feeds and data that would come in”.

It will also assist First Army in its role of preparing Reserve Component units for deployment. “For 1st Army, we’re doing the Warfighting functions such as mission command, intelligence, sustainment and protection. We’re tailoring everything for their mission”, Farris said.

This will pay off, Myers said, when First Army works with “units that go from home station to mobilize and then to a training base, and onto a forward location. CPCE is used in training exercises, Warfighters, and can also be used in the deployment of personnel from CONUS.”

Maj. Jeff Porter, who serves in the G3 Training and Exercise Branch as a simulation operations officer, also went through the training. He said the system has uses for Soldiers in a variety of military occupational specialties.

“CPCE is part of the mission command integration systems that we use throughout the Army,” he explained. “It uses things that the G2 would use or the G4 or the G1, all these different systems. Field artillery would use them to help give the best picture using the Common Operating Picture to the colonel or general, whoever’s in charge, to be able to make sure that not only are their troops safe and make sure they’re in the right space, but also where the enemy could possibly be.”

First Army will employ the CPCE during Pershing Strike, one of many exercises the system will be used in moving forward. “It’s the wave of the future,” Porter said. “It will benefit our troops on the ground and the commander who has to make those decisions that may be life or death”.


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