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NEWS | May 12, 2020

PM Close Combat Squad provides Guardsmen Situational Awareness in fight against COVID-19

By Courtesy Story PEO Soldier

As the world battles and responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier’s Project Manager-Close Combat Squad (PM CCS) with support from Combat Capabilities Development Command C5ISR Center’s Team Awareness Kit Project Center rapidly deployed an innovative situational awareness (SA) tool to Army National Guard (ARNG) Soldiers on the frontlines of this unconventional battlefield.

Within 20 days, PM CCS’s Product Manager Ground Soldier Systems (PdM GSS), in conjunction with the COVID-19 Rapid Equipping Team, delivered the Crisis Response SA/Understanding (SU) Team Awareness Leader Kit (CRSSTALK) capability to ARNG Soldiers. As of the end of April, it has been fielded to guard units across 15 states.

PdM GSS delivered hardware and Web-Based/Live Virtual Training to allow hundreds of National Guard Soldiers to effectively use the equipment to enhance situational awareness and facilitate communication.

CRSSTALK is a combination of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and PEO Soldier provided End User Devices (EUD) according to Maj. Ken Elgort, Assistant Program Manager for GSS future initiatives.

“The CRSSTALK capability empowers the lowest echelon user with a shared common operating picture (COP) using basic tools like position data, chat tools, and shared overlays on current smartphone/laptop technology,” said Elgort. “It leverages Team Awareness Kit (TAK) proven to be useful in past disaster and domestic response situations.”

CRSSTALK is a suite of integrated software applications across multiple platforms (smartphones, servers, computers, etc.) that provides unified communication and map-based situational awareness for crisis responders, both within the Department of Defense and at the federal and state levels of government.

Massachusetts National Guard Sgt. Maj. Gary Mauk described how PdM GSS stepped up to the challenge.

"The PdM GSS CRSSTALK project has done an amazing job in just a few short weeks of completely building an infrastructure from scratch, which is necessary to support a potential nationwide deployment of TAK capabilities,” said Mauk. ”Additionally, it’s clear to me that the benefits of TAK and the CRSSTALK project have the potential to significantly improve the way the National Guard accomplishes domestic operations in the future.”