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RCAS Upgrades Bring New Capabilities to Support the Army Reserve and National Guard

By Pete Van Schagen, RCAS Public Affairs

RCAS’ Mobile Distance Learning Classroom (MDLC) in Wellesley, Mass.

After two years of development and testing, the Army has released a new version of the Reserve Component Automation Systems (RCAS) program, which provides IT services to the Army National Guard (ARNG) and U.S. Army Reserve (USAR) components.

A 25-year-old acquisition program currently under the U.S. Army Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS), RCAS supplies both hardware and software for more than 100,000 full-time military staff supporting the nation’s citizen-Soldiers.

The primary objective of the new version is to evolve RCAS to keep up with the latest in information technology. The new release also provides an updated look to all of the RCAS applications, as well as giving users a secure, modern platform.

The system is comprised of 19 applications for the day-to-day operations of the ARNG and USAR, including mobilization, safety recording, personnel actions and force authorizations, and the network components supporting the backbone host for the applications. Benefits include improved decision-making and better information management through increased accessibility, flexibility and knowledge-sharing that the system provides. This stable, reliable and responsive architecture supports the USAR’s needs and improves mission effectiveness, interoperability and operational readiness of IT systems, as well as enhanced visibility of unit availability and readiness to the Army Forces Command.

Mr. Ralph Ocasio, RCAS project director, explained the latest upgrades: “Just recently, we undertook a huge modernization effort, and the result was RCAS 7.0, which we started deploying in May. We will hit all 50 states and three territories and the District of Columbia for the National Guard and three sites for the Army Reserve. The modernization includes updating our integrated database, moving to Oracle 11gR2.”

All applications were modernized as far as the code base, standardizing within a Microsoft .NET 4.0 framework. In addition, RCAS upgraded infrastructure, deploying new storage area network devices to all ARNG states and territories and the USAR.  Ocasio continued, “We also took advantage while we were in there to secure the system to ensure that we minimized our vulnerabilities, and closed a couple that existed,” he continued. “We’ve run different scans across the code base and mitigated any findings. What we’re deploying to the field today is a much more secure and modern system that is able to scale up as we move into the future.”

In addition to the details of completing and delivering RCAS 7.0, RCAS has been hard at work supporting the infrastructure refresh for both the ARNG and the USAR. The last increment of this equipment and system modernization is now complete and RCAS has processed the acquisition and delivery of over 29,000 pieces of mission critical equipment across the U.S. and its territories.

RCAS has also delivered, on behalf of the ARNG G3 Training Division, 17 Mobile Distributed Learning Classrooms (MDLC) to replace the aging brick and mortar facilities. And finally, RCAS has refurbished in excess of 80 USAR facilities, and in the process, provided current state of the art information technology capabilities.

Looking ahead, Ocasio hopes to continue changes that will make the system more responsive to evolving needs, following the concept of agile software sustainment being explored by a variety of Army organizations. “One of the big challenges has been sustaining and deploying software pieces fast,” he explained. “We’re getting requirements, analyzing and breaking them down, doing the development, checking it, and then finally deploying. It was a time-consuming, inefficient process.

RCAS is introducing a new approach that facilitates faster software deployment and sustainment.  A more agile methodology that brings together the project office, stakeholders and developers will ensure that we are building and deploying software at a much quicker rate and while it is still relevant.” The entire PD team will continue to support ARNG and USAR Soldiers with the highest quality of service they have come to expect from RCAS.

Posted July 10, 2013