Jody Hidalgo awarded with prestigious Army Joint Modernization Command Forge Hammer
In late 2023, Jody Hidalgo was at Fort Bliss, home of the U.S. Army’s tank division, supporting the Project Convergence Capstone 4 (PC C4) Risk Reduction Event 2 as part of her current role with Leidos — but she was also in for quite the surprise. Colonel Bert Shell, U.S. Army (Retired) and Jody's former supervisor at Program Executive Office Command Control Communications-Tactical (PEO-C3T), presented her with the Forge Hammer Award to recognize her 15 years supporting modernization priorities under the Joint Modernization Command (JMC).
As a symbol of JMC's mission to “Forge the Future," the Forge Hammer represents creating, shaping, and forging various materials into tools and implements of warfare. The Forge Hammer has been part of JMC's history since its inception, and it is rare for a contractor to receive it.
“As a contractor, you don't expect recognition, so getting the Forge Hammer was very significant for me," says Jody. Plus, Jody’s Hammer has special meaning to her. Unlike others, it has both the current JMC logo and the previous Brigade Modernization Command (BMC) logo, representing a tenure of support for emerging technology integration.
Jody's work modernizing combat systems
The PEO-C3T mission is to deliver a network that enables soldiers to communicate and dominate across all domains. In support of PEO-C3T, Jody served as the PC Applications and Systems Integrated Product Team (IPT) lead and the System of Systems integrator. She helped with the planning and execution of Continental U.S. (CONUS) and Outside Continental U.S. (OCONUS) Joint and Multinational exercises, tests, and experimentation events. Jody also helped develop data flows to identify possible interoperability issues.
Jody's work saw her integrating software for Integrated Computer Systems (ICS) on Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicles (MATV's), testing radios and systems in Chinook helicopters, and supporting tactical network integrations in Germany, Hawaii, and other CONUS bases. At times, Jody and her team worked 12- to 15-hour days, seven days a week, but they knew it was essential to the safety and success of our soldiers.
“Our leaders made sure we understood why our work was important. We needed to capture every single detail and any issues related to the systems we integrated. The last thing we wanted was for the Army to field a radio or system that a soldier had to restart while in conflict," Jody says.
Colonel Patrick Landry, US Army (Retired) and former Chief of Staff of the 10th Mountain Division, was one of Jody's managers. He shared real-life experiences of people he'd fought with who'd been lost in war — people like Sergeant First Class Jared Monti who was decorated with the Medal of Honor posthumously after being killed in action while trying three times to save a fallen soldier. If his unit’s radio communication hadn't failed, he and his fellow warfighters may have gotten life-saving support in time.
“That made it personal," says Jody, whose husband, now a U.S. Border Patrol agent, served in the Army along with many other family members while she supported PEO-C3T. Jody and her team worked tirelessly to strengthen the Army's network and solve equipment interoperability issues before battlefield deployment. They achieved their objectives through the continuous integration of new technologies.
Jody's work developing technologies for warfighters that protect their lives and power their success
In 2022, Jody took a new position with Leidos as a solution architect supporting Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) solutions. In this role, she continues to help modernize military technologies that shorten the time between sensing and response. The difference is that her work now supports every branch of the Armed Forces, and she doesn't just test and troubleshoot — she gets involved in developing and designing new systems.
“Jody joined our team in March and has been instrumental in helping us prepare for future exercises with the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Joint Forces," says Charles Ott, a fellow solution architect and her current manager. “The JMC awarded her the Forge Hammer in appreciation for all her hard work and in support of her transition to a new career path at Leidos. We're lucky to have her deep experience."
After 15 years of helping with integration and testing, Jody was grateful for the experience but also ready to get out of her comfort zone and take the next step in her career.
“When I read the job opening, it looked great, but it was the fact that I'd be working at Leidos that first caught my eye," Jody says. Leidos, she says, is one of the most innovative and interesting system integrators she'd seen that supports both global enterprise IT programs as well as tactical, mission-centric IT. She felt that taking a role with Leidos would maintain her sense of stability while giving her the opportunity to bring her own ideas to the table, provide more exposure to different types of work, and support a wider base of customers.
“Now I'm learning more about the Air Force, Navy, and Marines," she says of her work supporting Leidos’ Edge to Cloud (E2C) implementation in Project Convergence, the Army’s cJADC2 initiative, and in the System of Systems Technology Integration Toolchain for Heterogeneous Electronic Systems (STITCHES), an Air Force interoperability initiative. E2C is a key multi-domain operations (MDO) solution that deploys a cloud stack from the enterprise to the edge and uses microservices to connect, enhance, adapt, and fix legacy applications.
“At the end of the day, we develop, test, and integrate new technologies that may save somebody's life. That's the bottom line," Jody says.