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Fires Knowledge Network (FKN).

The Field Artillery School, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, has developed a Fires Knowledge Network (FKN) that will put the entire school, its experts and publications--plus information on FA units and organizations--at the fingertips of every Soldier. FKN will be accessible through Army Knowledge Online (AKO) by the end of the year and be an interactive "one-stop shop" for Soldiers, allowing two-way communications within the fire support community and the Army.

FKN is the first of its kind as a branch website behind AKO. The pilot was launched in spring of 2003 but has not been accessible Army-wide.

The concept was born in October 2002 from a need to provide a way for Soldiers to ask questions and access manuals; white papers; tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs); lesson plans; and other data centrally from one location. The schoolhouse and its leaders designed FKN to be a complete collaboration tool for Soldiers.

That idea grew into one online location consolidating an official FA data repository, tools for asking questions or providing feedback, and the ability to build communities of practice (CoPs) around staff organizations, units and their missions. CoPs are individual sites or communities that allow organizations to post information, ask questions, host discussions and conduct surveys and are fully interactive online with each other.

Individual FA units or organizations will be able to establish a CoP on the FKN and control it. Administrators can limit who has access to the CoP, although most CoPs will be open to anyone with access to AKO. No special webmaster skills are needed to manage the CoP. The average computer user has the skills.

Combined with new features in the redesigned AKO portal, FKN users will be able to target information to a specific audience. For example, users will be able to send a message to all Soldiers who hold the 13B Cannoneer Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), directing them to information relative to that MOS.

Communities will be able to build groups based on Soldiers' location, rank, MOS and unit affiliation. The groups then can be centered on specific professional jobs or missions. The goal is to target information and build communities that will help Soldiers and units become more effective warfighters.

FKN already is helping Soldiers in Iraq. Senior FA targeting technicians created a CoP for unit members in the Army, the USMC and civilian contractors. This community is private and only invited members can gain access. Within the CoP, Soldiers and experts discuss For Official Use Only (FOUO) TTPs in Iraq. The CoP is resolving TA technical problems for units in Iraq, using the experts at the schoolhouse. The information then is passed electronically to other units preparing to deploy and instructors at the school for future courses.

FKN is not cleared for classified data, but the ability to limit who participates allows for the free exchange of ideas and information up to classified information.

AKO plans to implement an additional FKN platform on the secure internet protocol network (SIPRNET), also by year's end. Once that security measure is in place, developers and commanders in the field will be able to exploit the platform more fully to support the Global War on Terrorism.

Other Army branches as well as other services eventually will have the opportunity to build a knowledge network around their domains, which will allow combined arms and joint interactive information exchanges.

When AKO launches FKN, it will post a notice on the main AKO page telling users how to access the Fires Knowledge Network.

SFC(R) Eddie C. Henderson

Chief, Knowledge Management Br, DOTD, FA School, Fort Sill, OK
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Author:Henderson, Eddie C.
Publication:FA Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2004
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