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DARPA at the Tactical Edge: TIGR & RAA

Todd Hack, a project manager with General Dynamics Mission Systems (which later acquired TIGR) worked on TIGR development stateside. “If anything took more than a few months, it never made Maeda happy,” he said.

Timeliness was key. The 1st Brigade Combat Team was redeploying to Iraq in late 2006 with Funk commanding and Michaelis as brigade S-3 (operations officer). TIGR would follow it in early 2007 in the form of a small DARPA developer and training team. Operator feedback moved quickly from Swink and others in theater to Maeda and Evans back at DARPA.

The other main TIGR selling point Swink emphasized was giving small units the ability to access and update maps, and use them in planning patrols.

“The thing about working with DARPA at the time was that they were very tightly connected to the warfighter, whether in the field at Fort Hood or in Iraq,” Michaelis said. “The programmers were sitting right next to the folks on the ground. We were providing capability from the bottom up rather than the top down. That was pretty revolutionary for the time.”

Revolutions always meet resistance, and TIGR was no different. In Washington, D.C., and Iraq, mid-level managers were uncomfortable with it.


Becoming an Indispensable Tool

“We had fights inside the Pentagon and inside the theater,” Michaelis acknowledged.

“We got big push-back,” Maeda agreed. “There were two big objections: One was that this was going to break the network; the other was that this was not an Army system – it was not officially derived from stated requirements.”

Concerns over the resources TIGR would require were valid, Swink admitted.

“The networks were just awful early on in Iraq and Afghanistan for any smaller base with 100 guys or less,” he said.

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Eric Tegler is a writer/broadcaster from Severna Park, Md. His work appears in a variety...