'Light fighter' communications

Command-and-control exercises vector future communications

by Hank Alau and MAJ Fran Trentley

FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii � 516th Signal Brigade/U.S. Army Pacific G-6 staff augmented 25th Infantry Division (Light) and participated in U.S. commander-in-chief Pacific-directed command-and-control exercises Nov. 2, 2000, and Feb. 26-March 1, 2001.

The first C2X�s focus was on communications and computers, which support C2. This exercise would be the vector on how the Army will operate in the Pacific as an Army force supporting the CINCPAC�s "core" joint-mission-forces missions. This exercise would also serve as the command, control, communications, computers and intelligence benchmark for future operations.

The exercise would validate some of the Training and Doctrine Command C4I team�s assessments of USARPAC�s shortfalls in providing a division-level ARFOR to a joint task force under the JMF construct. It would "push the envelope" of C4I operational support.

This first of six scheduled C2Xs was months in the making. It involved forward-thinking, innovation and a "can do" spirit on behalf of Team Signal soldiers planning future USARPAC missions.

Early challenges and solutions

USARPAC briefed the 3d Fleet commander in February 2000 on its minimal C4I surveillance-and-reconnaissance capabilities and interoperability supporting a JTF. In March 2000, USARPAC completed testing of the Global Command and Control System-Army. These two events were key to the future of C2 planning and execution within USARPAC.

While the first identified a problem, the second provided the solution. GCCS-A would become the foundation of C2 capability in USARPAC. The goal was simple: "everything from one box" � the same look, feel and applications in garrison or deployed, no matter where the soldier went; to train as we intend to fight.

The second decision was modification of Army doctrine, pushing the GCCS-A terminal down to division level as a C2 system. GCCS-A was designed for corps levels and above, while the Army�s tactical C2 system still in development would be the division C2 system.

In May 2000, Team Signal�s GCCS Division was investigating ways of graphically displaying the common operating picture and other GCCS-A applications for a deployed ARFOR. The final solution was using wide-screen "SmartBoard" systems in combination with lightweight projectors tied to GCCS-A terminals. This provided the ARFOR commander improved battlefield awareness, and dynamically supported both COP input to the combined JTF and common-tactical-picture monitoring.

While all this internal effort to correct USARPAC�s C4ISR shortfalls were being made, other external events were occurring. The USARPAC C4ISR shortfall had been identified to TRADOC for mitigation. The CINCPAC had defined the concept and core missions for JMFs. He also levied the objective deployability requirement of 36 hours with prior notification for a JMF.

In June 2000, the CINCPAC convened the first of a series of meetings to determine the character and required capabilities of a JMF. One of this initial meeting�s recommendations was that there be a series of six C2 exercises through Fiscal Year 2003 to establish a baseline of U.S. Pacific Command�s C2 communications connectivity. These exercises would incrementally exercise each C4ISR element using service tactical-communications systems and C2 systems.

First C2X provides baseline

The first of these exercises occurred Nov. 2, 2000, and would exercise the communications structure from Tier 1 (USPACOM) to Tier 2 (the JTF) through Tier 3 (the JTF�s component commands � for example, ARFOR, Navy force).

There were three major challenges to USARPAC and 25th Infantry Division (Light) Signal personnel. They had two weeks to set up for the exercise. The JTF headquarters was afloat, located aboard the USS Blue Ridge. The exercise would last six hours and have 36 separate events, ranging from receipt of intelligence summaries and imagery to dynamic maintenance of unit locations in the JTF COP.

C2 exercise November 2000 MAJ Fran Trentley, chief of Global Command and Control System Division (far right with mobile telephone) and other Team Signal soldiers test new deployable C2 equipment during November 2000's C2 exercise.

The results: of the 36 events, the Army accomplished 16 events using tactical assets and eight using garrison assets. The remaining 12 messaging events couldn�t be accomplished but were successfully resolved during follow-on exercises.

During the after-action-review videoteleconference, it was apparent that the ARFOR, given its shortfalls, was the most successful service in meeting the C2X objectives.

The exercise provided a documented baseline of USARPAC�s C4ISR capabilities and shortfalls. It validated TRADOC�s C4ISR assessment as well as using GCCS-A at ARFOR level as a division-level asset in a JTF scenario. Using GCCS-A at 25th Infantry Division (Light) proved a viable option until the fielding of the maneuver-control system and the rest of the ATCCS suite.

Most importantly, this was a short-notice exercise, with less than two weeks� preparation time.

Second C2X garners kudos

The second C2X was conducted Feb. 26-March 1. It focused on five areas:

Establishing the COP;
Using collaborative tools;
Using the secure Internet protocol routed network;
Establishing and using websites; and
Testing and using voice reporting.

There were 45 exercise events to evaluate these five generic areas. Of the 45 events, the Army was successful in more than 90 percent of them.

"This exercise was a great success for the Army and allowed us a few bragging rights," said MAJ Fran Trentley, chief of the GCCS Division. "It was the first time the ARFOR injected tactical-enemy-force tracks into a JTF COP. It was also the first tactical demonstration of the operational Defense Message System to Automatic Digital Network and AUTODIN-to-DMS capability.

"The deployable GCCS-A C2 suite enabled 25th Infantry Division (Light) to demonstrate capabilities that accomplish all a JMF�s joint-information-exchange requirements. We�ve now demonstrated the capability and are focused on improving responsiveness and reliability," Trentley said.

COL Randolph Strong, brigade commander/G-6, was pleased with the results of both C2Xs.

"The successes are a credit to the professionalism, dedication and can-do spirit of our Team Signal soldiers," said Strong. "They used their initiative and pushed the limited technology available beyond the specified limits to provide the ARFOR commander with the information required to execute the mission. These information warriors are eager for the next opportunity to demonstrate lessons-learned in providing C4I to the Pacific warfighters."

Mr. Alau and MAJ Trentley are assigned to 516th Signal Brigade.

Acronym QuickScan
ARFOR � Army forces
ATCCS � Army tactical command-and-control system
AUTODIN � Automatic Digital Network
C2 � command and control
C2X � command-and-control exercise
C4I � command, control, communications, computers and intelligence
C4ISR � command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance
CINCPAC � commander-in-chief Pacific
COP � common operating picture
DMS � Defense Message System
GCCS-A � Global Command and Control System-Army
JMF � joint mission forces
JTF � joint task force
TRADOC � Training and Doctrine Command
USARPAC � U.S. Army Pacific
USPACOM � U.S. Pacific Command

dividing rule

Back issues on-line | "Most requested" articles | Article search | Subscriptions | Writer's guide

Army Communicator is part of Regimental Division, a division of Office Chief of Signal.

This is an offical U.S. Army Site |

04/04/12

This is an offical U.S. Army Site |