by CPT Matt Armstrong and LTC Lori Sussman
This article discusses the G-6 Signal planner�s role in the division course-of-action development process, wargaming process and battle-tracking and reporting process. The G-6 planner must learn and apply these processes to the overall pursuit of an endstate, which includes not only the division�s operations plan but also creation of the Signal execution matrix and the overall division communications-support plan.
It�s important to understand the roles and responsibilities of other division-staff members to coordinate properly. The G-6 planner must be clear as to the planner�s role vs. the Signal battalion S-3�s role during the military decision-making process. In this way, the G-6 planner ensures the division commander has seamless voice and data communications through all combat-operations phases.
To conduct the planning process to standard, the G-6 planner must execute the preparatory phase of MDMP first by accurately creating and applying the use of Signal operational graphics and overlays in conjunction with the division�s graphics. These final products will aid not only the G-6 planner in providing the overall division communications-support plan, but they also will provide a useful tool for the Signal battalion S-3 to use during the battle for current battle-tracking and future operations.
|The first priority for the G-6 Signal planner is to obtain the correct map sheets of the current operations area and apply current division graphics to them. These map sheets will preferably be 1:50,000, and the graphics will reflect the most current division tactical information � including tactical assembly areas, Paladin assembly areas, engagement areas, main and alternate supply routes, forward-edge-of-battle areas, target-reference points, no-fire zones, templated enemy locations and likely enemy avenues of approach. On the graphics, the G-6 planner will identify all key terrain that will aid in installing key Signal assets, as well as other key terrain such as flight landing strips, river-crossing points and areas where Signal support isn�t feasible.||
Military decision-making process
When the mapboard and graphics have been correctly set up with the most current and accurate information, the G-6 planner must then plot the current locations of all key division assets. These assets include (but aren�t limited to) Multiple-Launch Rocket System locations, Q-36/37 Firefinder locations, Avenger missile locations, TRQ (a signal-intelligence-gathering piece of equipment used by military intelligence) locations, forward ammunition-resupply points/battalion-support areas/cache locations, attack-helicopter locations and airstrip locations. In addition to these key areas of concern, the G-6 planner will plot the locations of the three division command posts: the division tactical, division main and division rear CPs. If possible, the G-6 planner will also add the brigade and separate-battalion CPs as well. In this way, the planner can determine if there are enough mobile-subscriber equipment and frequency-modulation assets to connect all three division CPs to each other, and for the division CPs to connect to the major subordinate commands the division is controlling.
Plotting this data and preparing the map and graphics falls on the shoulders of the G-6 planning noncommissioned officer. The planning NCO is also responsible for constantly maintaining situation awareness about the entire battle and must continually update the deputy G-6 and other G-6 planners. The G-6 planner, however, will ultimately be responsible for ensuring the map�s and data�s accuracy, as well as their timely updating throughout the course of the battle or operation.
With all initial preparations complete, and after the division warning order/operations order has been received, the G-6 planner is now armed to properly execute his estimate of the situation. This involves carefully and meticulously analyzing higher-up�s warno/opord and extracting pertinent information that will aid the planner in making a precise picture of the battlefield and how best to support the maneuver elements. During mission analysis, the planner will identify specified and implied tasks, and determine from those the essential-tasks constraints. At the same time, the planner must also identify key planning assumptions and facts, as well as key terrain, and begin to formulate requests for information necessary to continue the planning process. All this extracted information will be fed back the division G-3 planners.
During this phase, the G-6 planner must also coordinate with the Signal battalion S-3 and unit S-6s to get a clear picture of assets on hand. A fundamental question that�s continually asked is, �How do the roles of the G-6 differ from the roles of the division Signal battalion?� The G-6 planner is part of the MDMP process and determines the feasibility, acceptability and suitability of a given COA as it pertains to Signal. The planner must know doctrinal distances and understand how to deploy assets to make those determinations.
However, actual network planning and implementation is the Signal battalion�s role. The Signal battalion S-3 provides a supporting MSE network architecture the Signal battalion commander briefs as part of the orders process. Before the handoff between the G-6 planner and the Signal battalion S-3, there�s the MDMP process, which helps both G-6 and S-3 derive a supporting Signal structure for division warplans.
With all requisite information in hand, the G-6 planner is now ready to begin the COA development and wargaming process. It�s crucial during this planning phase that there�s a clear dialogue between the G-6 planner and G-3 about what Signal brings to the fight. In other words, what could Signaleers provide the division in terms of equipment, soldiers and maintenance readiness to support division operations? This knowledge is critical to the warfighter�s flexibility in a particular COA.
After mission analysis, the Signaleer must be prepared to provide guidance to the other division planners on which distinct COAs aren�t feasible based on mission, enemy, terrain, troops available-time as it applies to Signal. If a COA can�t be supported for any reason, that must be clearly enunciated as early as possible in the MDMP process to prevent developing an unsupportable COA.
If all COAs are feasible from the Signaleer�s perspective, the G-6 planner must then cross-talk with the Signal battalion S-3 to let the battalion know what the COAs are so it can begin its parallel-planning process. Once the Signal battalion S-3 confirms feasibility from its perspective, the G-6 planner is ready to take part in the COA analysis, better known as the wargaming phase. The end-product from this phase is a feasible MSE and FM communication strategy supporting the division maneuver COAs.
During the COA and wargaming processes, the G-6 planner must pay careful attention to the particular Signal architecture supporting the three division CPs to ensure they can be dual-homed. Another critical concern to the G-6 planner is the ongoing struggle between the need to occupy terrain conducive to building the network while providing force protection to our Signal forces at the same time. Ultimately, the need for force protection will always win out because a soldier must survive to provide communications. Therefore, the planner must initially coordinate for base clustering while keeping a keen eye out for suboptimal terrain where the enemy is unlikely to look for our assets but where we can still support the network.
A base cluster is a collection of critical division assets that aren�t necessarily colocated but do provide mutual support to each other. The base cluster creates not only mutually supported positions on the battlefield, but it also provides force protection to key division assets and aids in defending against and defeating bypassed units or special-operations forces roaming the AO. Clustering in suboptimal terrain is also an effective protection strategy for your cluster of units that need high ground to support the division. Suboptimal terrain is simply terrain which isn�t likely to be identified by the enemy as key terrain and therefore not templated by his artillery, but at the same time it will provide the minimal requirements to install, operate and maintain division communications systems.
It�s up to the G-6 planner to find and coordinate these sites with other key division assets needing placement on high ground. Keep in mind that movement on the battlefield will severely restricted. Movement and terrain occupation will always have to be coordinated with the provost marshal and division transportation officer as well as with the brigade that owns that terrain. It�s important to try to move Signal assets with other friendly units on the battlefield for force protection. The G-6 planner will make that initial coordination with other planners.
Bottom line: base clustering, suboptimal terrain and integrated movement slows the pace of movement, and often the shots will be marginal or there will be problems with dual-homing. However, Signal assets will be available throughout the battle�s course. The Signal battalion commander /assistant chief of staff G-6 will address those risk or concern areas during the confirmation brief and backbrief processes.
During COA development and wargaming with the division�s planning staff, it�s up to the G-6 planner to articulate and coordinate all Signal-asset movements on the battlefield as well as to or around the division CPs. The G-6 planner must also communicate effectively about the Signal plan to the other division planners on a level that everyone can understand. This isn�t the time or place to be bashful. This is the perfect time to coordinate movements and locations and to find out the anticipated placements of other key division assets through cross-talk with division planners.
Staff cross-talk during the MDMP process is critical. Signal planners coordinate with the forward-logistics-element planner to develop initial no-fire zones and free-fire zones. Also, the G-6 planner gets the location of key artillery assets, including MLRS and Q36/37 Firefinder. This information�s purpose is to give the Signal battalion options on colocating with those radars or artillery systems to enhance protection for Signal assets as well as start a good base cluster.
From G-3 Air, the G-6 planner gets the location of key airstrips, FARPS and key aviation assets as well as lift assets. The G-6 planner also uses this information to colocate in protected areas. The information also allows him to set conditions for airlifting Signal assets and starts the coordination process for aerial FM retransmission. A good G-6 planner will also coordinate with the air-defense-artillery element for Signal protection and to get the status of routes and mobility corridors.
Coordination also extends to the G-4 planner to get Signal priority of repair, movement and reconstitution. The G-4 planner also has information on decontamination, refueling, cache and FLE sites. The division�s air-defense-artillery officer provides information about ADA support locations critical to smart base clustering. Again, colocating with Avenger systems on high ground enhances Signal protection tremendously.
The DTO and PMO will have MSR/ASR information. The G-1 provides priority for replacements in the division. Finally, the G-2 will provide critical information on the enemy�s capabilities � including weapons systems, artillery, weather effects, enemy SOF capabilities and templated enemy locations.
One begins to see the big picture as the G-6 planner gathers this critical information on the division�s AO and areas of concern. After all this staff cross-talk, it becomes the G-6 planner�s responsibility to ensure the information is disseminated to the Signal battalion S-3 so it can plan the best possible network.
When the COAs have been developed, the G-6 planner must decide how best to support each COA during the wargaming process. The G-6 planner must speak for all division communications assets and make sure each operations phase has the necessary and required Signal support for the maneuver units. As Signaleers, it�s our goal to provide cascading FM and MSE coverage about five to 10 kilometers in front of maneuver units.
It becomes possible for the G-6 planner to conceptually develop the scheme of communication support necessary for each COA through proper staff cross-talk and asset analysis. By taking careful, detailed notes during the wargaming process, it�s possible for the G-6 planner to construct an initial execution matrix for Signal support the Signal battalion S-3 can use to develop the Signal network. By backward planning and implementing a reverse battlefield-operating-systems analysis, it becomes possible to build the matrix with much detail on possible placement of FM, radio-access units and node centers. By using a few planning rules of thumb, the matrix almost builds itself based on the operational flow.
The G-6 planner uses the respective planning ranges of the RAU, NC and FM retrans to develop movement strategies and suggest which unit should get tactical control of Signal assets for movement. It�s also helpful to keep in mind that the DTAC will displace about every 12-18 hours and the DMAIN will displace every 24-48 hours. In this way, the G-6 planner can test feasibility, acceptability and suitability of each maneuver COA as well as suggest decision points for the Signal battalion commander and ACofS G-6.
After the wargame, the G-6 planner constructs a detailed execution matrix consisting of the three division CPs, the MSC/separate-battalion locations, coverage provided at various points in time and space on the battlefield, and the location and movements of key Signal assets on the battlefield. This includes NCs, small and large extension nodes, RAU, line-of-sight relays and FM retrans. This execution matrix becomes a powerful tool for the G-6 planner, unit S-6s and the Signal battalion S-3 shop. This tool will allow division Signal planners to exercise battle command for Signal.
Developing this matrix is a leader habit and discipline. It helps all division Signaleers understand the commanding general�s intent, then visualize and create an operations concept that incorporates a running estimate, takes weather and terrain into planning considerations, and allows everyone to see the enemy�s impact on Signal support.
During the COA comparison, the G-6 planner presents Signal-screening criteria and assesses COA supportability as well as summarizes the relative advantages and disadvantages of each COA. This is also an opportunity for the G-6 planner to educate the rest of the division staff. If G-3 planners understand fundamental issues that make communications more supportable, this will improve command-and-control planning during follow-on planning sessions. When you can, take the opportunity to discuss and explain how and why each COA achieves better or worse agility, initiative, depth, synchronization and/or deception by the way Signal can be implemented. This is a chance to talk Signal, but use the tactical lexicon vs. Signal jargon to maintain credibility and so you are fully understood.
When the division-level COA analysis and comparison is complete, the division staff briefs the CG on each COA and seeks a decision on which COA to implement. The staff then prepares the opord upon the CG�s decision. During this phase of the planning process, the G-6 planner must build/create Annex K. The G-6 planner will then have two useful tools to provide the Signal battalion for its part of the orders process after this phase of MDMP concludes. It becomes that much easier to talk the Signal plan during the division rehearsal/rock drill once these products are in hand.
Finally, part of the G-6 planner�s mission is to be able to provide timely and accurate information about Signal assets and how they affect the division commander�s running estimate. Also, it�s necessary to use a reverse BOS analysis to focus on where and how Signal assets may be attacked by the enemy. Once the G-6 has done this level of analysis, he will have a clear understanding of the operation and will be able to provide the command group an accurate battle-update brief. With the execution matrix in hand, this information is easy to provide and discuss in detail. In the CG�s battle-update brief, all significant events of the past 12 hours and next 24 hours � including Signal moves and Signal coverage � should be reported.
The G-6 planner plays a significant role in tying together all the division�s communications assets. He�s also a crucial link in disseminating critical information to and from the Signal battalion and to the division staff. With a firm understanding of everyone�s roles and responsibilities, as well as knowledge of systems and enemy threat, the G-6 planner makes sure the plan developed supports the warfighting commander�s objectives. The products the G-6 planner creates provide useful tools for all the division�s Signal elements to use while planning and providing Signal support to the division�s maneuver elements. These tools will allow Signaleers to exercise Signal battle command and provide powerful command, control, communications and computers support within the division.
CPT Armstrong is the G-6 radio officer at 2d Infantry Division, Camp Red Cloud, Korea. He�s a Signal Captains Career Course graduate and former Army infantry officer. His Signal assignments have also included Signal-company executive officer and S-4 of 82d Signal Battalion. He has earned the Ranger Tab and Expert Infantryman�s Badge.
LTC Sussman is battalion commander for 122d Signal Battalion, 2d Infantry Division. She is a Command and General Staff College and School for Advanced Military Studies graduate. Her Signal assignments include platoon leader, S-1 and Company C commander with 32d Signal Battalion; Presidential Communications Office/Automation Branch chief at the White House Communications Agency; C-/J-6 plans officer, U.S. Forces Korea; DG-6 and executive officer, 123d Signal Battalion, 3d Infantry Division; and action officer/executive officer to the J-6, Joint Staff, Washington, D.C.
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