Openwings team flying high
- By George I. Seffers
- Aug 02, 2000
The team developing the Openwings command and control architecture for the
Army is ecstatic following the successful demonstration of the prototype
to the service's V Corps in Europe.
The Army Command and Control System is composed of several command and control
systems lashed together. But unlike an office network, Army networks on
the battlefield are torn down, moved and set up again about every three
hours, according to David Usechak, Army product manager for common software
in the program executive office for command, control and communications
The problem is exacerbated because "we have people joining or leaving a
network randomly, with no pre-planning," Usechak said. Furthermore, network
setup and operation is sometimes too complicated for the average soldier,
and the systems that make up the Command and Control System were not originally
designed to interface with one another.
To help solve those problems, Motorola Inc. and Sun Microsystems Inc. demonstrated
a prototype of the Openwings architecture July 28 to Army V Corps officials
during a week-long conference on digitization.
"We were trying to demonstrate this whole business of Openwings, a self-forming,
self-healing, network," Usechak said. "The demonstration pointed out the
robustness of this technology and how easy in one sense it is to take and
start plugging together various types of hardware and software and to make
"The amount of effort involved is greatly reduced, and you have some level
of confidence that when you plug these guys together, it's going to work,"
The V Corps demonstration included bringing Unix and Microsoft Corp. Windows
NT-based laptops into the network without prior planning or setup, and it
also included wireless communications between a laptop and the network.
Confident with their success, demonstrators threw in an exhibition of voice
data being passed via an IP network, Usechak said.
Although the demonstration will neither make nor break the fledgling effort,
Usechak said he hopes it will help persuade Army and other service officials
to provide funding for further development.
"For next year, we know the Army will provide some money to Motorola to
keep this work moving forward, but we don't know yet how much. We're hoping
for about $1 million," Usechak said. The service hopes to provide some units
with an initial capability of the open architecture within the next 20 months,