command and control

July 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman
U.S. Navy personnel use an experimental mockup of a submarine situational awareness system based on Google Earth. Navy officials aim to begin deploying the geospatial information system on Virginia-class submarines next year.

The U.S. Navy submarine force is moving to use a commercial geospatial information product to provide an integrated data picture to its crew members. The undersea fleet is striving to implement Google Earth as a common geospatial foundation across all systems aboard its submarines.

The new geospatial display system will allow sailors onboard submarines to view water depth, sonar contacts, distance from land, operational areas and forward-course tracks. Not only would all this information be displayed visually, but the same operational picture also would be visible to anyone at a console throughout the boat.

July 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
Army vehicles are required to carry jammers to counter improvised explosive devices. Researchers seek technological solutions to prevent the devices from interfering with friendly force communications and use spectrum more efficiently.

The complexities of the U.S. Army’s networks and spectrum allocation processes interfere with the need to reassign units to different tasks, creating major delays and presenting serious challenges. To solve the issue, researchers intend to deliver a wide range of technologies, including automated spectrum planning and allocation tools and smarter radios, that will use spectrum more efficiently, network more effectively and provide commanders the flexibility to reorganize as needed.

May 16, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Representatives from the U.S. Army and Air Force, along with 17 NATO nations and three partner nations, will participate in a joint reconnaissance trial at Orland Air Station in Norway May 19-28 to test and evaluate intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) concepts and technologies. The Unified Vision 2014 (UV14) trial will be NATO’s largest-ever ISR trial and will be used as a major stepping stone to provide NATO warfighters with an enhanced set of ISR capabilities.

May 1, 2014
By Lt. Col. Jan Norris, USA, 
and Whitney Katz
The full Joint Airborne Command and Control/Command Post (JACC/CP) system, which consists of four pallets with seats and work stations for as many as 16 users, sits in the cargo hold of a C-17 with soldiers deploying to a distant operation. Unlike the C-130, both ground troops (paratroopers) and battle staff can occupy the aircraft simultaneously with the JACC/CP.

The ability to communicate en route directly with ground elements during an airborne theater insertion has taken a giant leap forward with a communications system boarding a C-17 Globemaster III. A long-distance deployment across the vast Asia-Pacific region has opened the door to en route command and control over secure or unsecure links.

June 1, 2014
By Rita Boland
Virginia National Guard soldiers from the Fairfax-based Data Processing Unit respond to a simulated cyber attack during a cyberdefense exercise.

Cybersecurity remains a priority for the U.S. Defense Department, with officials protecting resources for it in the face of overall budget constraints. Guidance from the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 directs a mission analysis of cybercapabilities not only in the active military, but also across partners, to help forces maintain their edge in protecting the nation.

May 1, 2014
By Lt. Gen. Daniel P. Bolger, USA (Ret.)

As a group, generals tend to be relentlessly positive. The pre-eminent U.S. soldier of recent years, Gen. Colin Powell, USA (Ret.), likes to remind us that, “Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.” War and military operations are hard enough, but gloom and defeatism only make things harder. In combat, a morale edge sure helps. It is not by accident that Medal of Honor recipient Audie Murphy’s outfit, the U.S. Army’s famous 15th Infantry Regiment, has as its motto, “Can Do.”

May 1, 2014
BY Rita Boland
Brig. Gen. John Baker, USA, J-6, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), addresses his staff at a ceremony honoring Col. Edward Cobb, (decesased) USA, former J-6 of the precursor to CENTCOM.

Technologies including voice over Internet protocol, high-definition video and satellite communications altered the battlefield during years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but as combat operations draw to a close, different challenges are emerging. Technical, fiscal and personnel changes all are shifting, forcing decision makers to reevaluate activities.

May 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
Air operations centers, like the 612th air and space operations center at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, are the command and control centers for planning, executing and assessing joint air operations.

A critical U.S. Air Force program designed to refurbish the service’s operations centers around the world likely will begin by upgrading the first site next year. The potential $504 million effort will automate services, improve interoperability, speed decision making, enhance cybersecurity and lower costs.

Air operations centers are the command and control centers for planning, executing and assessing joint air operations during a contingency or conflict. They support joint force air component commanders in planning and executing missions.

May 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
Alerted by the Global ASNT system, aircrews rush to their B-52H Stratofortresses during a training exercise at Minot Air Force Base in November.

U.S. Air Force officials are working to replace by 2019 aging command and control terminals that are part of the U.S. Air Force’s nuclear bomber mission. The new terminals will communicate with advanced satellite constellations and also will add capabilities not in current systems.

May 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman
A  U.S. Navy sailor monitors communications aboard an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. The Defense Department’s JIE builds on communications and networking advances within the individual services.

The Defense Department drive toward its Joint Information Environment is picking up speed as it progresses toward its goal of assimilating military networks across the warfighting realm. Individual services are developing solutions, some of which are targeted for their own requirements, that are being applied to the overarching goal of linking the entire defense environment.

Early successes in Europe have advanced Joint Information Environment (JIE) efforts elsewhere, including the continental United States. Some activities have been accelerated as a result of lessons learned, and they have been implemented ahead of schedule in regions not slated to receive them for months or even years.

April 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
The sensor data subsystem of the Common Aviation Command and Control System, which is being evaluated and tested by MCTSSA personnel, will fuse sensor input from a variety of sensors and weapon systems, including unmanned aerial vehicles and the F35B Joint Strike Fighter.

A tactical technology support organization that has been serving the U.S. Marines for decades is beginning to find a role in the cyber domain. The group offers a broad range of services, including test and evaluation, engineering and network integration. It also supports users across the Defense Department, U.S. government and allies.

April 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
The U.S. Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory works with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency on the Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node program, which seeks to develop an unmanned aircraft capable of launching from a small ship.

To address a changing mission amid broader challenges, the U.S. Marines are implementing the service’s future warfighting strategy this year through training, war gaming and experimentation. The strategy calls for forces to be dispersed over wide areas and will require technologies that enhance warfighters’ effectiveness over greater distances.

April 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman
Three soldiers from different forces are equipped with the Integrated Soldier System (ISS) that links the i-Aware TM-NVG night vision system with the SpearNet radio. Combining night vision with radio communications allows warfighters to send real-time battlefield imagery back to their headquarters as well as receive other situational awareness imagery and information from their commands.

Warfighters on foot equipped with night vision systems now can give their commanders a real-time glimpse of what they’re seeing in the field. A new system that combines a portable radio with night vision goggles allows the optical imagery to be captured and sent across the same radio channels used for voice and data communications.

Each piece of hardware—the portable radio and the night vision system—is in service with the armed forces of several countries around the world. Engineers basically combined the two functions to produce a single system that allows commanders to remotely view a night scene from the warfighter’s eye view accompanied with geolocation information.

March 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Sapelo and Royal Netherlands Navy Offshore Patrol Vessel HNLMS Holland search Caribbean Sea waters for bales of contraband. SeaWatch is the Coast Guard’s next-generation command and control system for cutters.

By the end of this fiscal year, the next-generation command and control system for much of the cutter fleet should be installed on the U.S. Coast Guard’s 270-foot cutter class, and the system is now being considered for inclusion on 225-foot and 110-foot vessels. The system, called SeaWatch, combines navigational and tactical, optical surveillance and communications into one situational awareness picture; provides commonality across the fleet; and replaces an aging system that has outlived its usefulness.

March 1, 2014
By Henry S. Kenyon

Europe’s defense markets have been contracting for the past decade because of the continent’s financial crisis and national priorities shifting away from military spending. But while fewer tanks and fighter jets are being acquired, money is being spent on modernizing computers and communications equipment—a trend that will continue into the foreseeable future, according to an industry analyst.

February 12, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

West 2014 Online Show Daily, Day 1

Quote of the Day:

“If Batman had a ship, it would look like the Zumwalt-class destroyer.”—Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., USN, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

The budget reductions that will be a fact of military life for the foreseeable future promise to impel dramatic changes in force structure and military operations. Ongoing needs such as high technology and overseas commitments offer the possibility of being both challenges and solutions, as planners endeavor to plan around a smaller but, hopefully, more capable force.

February 1, 2014
By Rita Boland
U.S. sailors on the bridge of the USS Ramage monitor a Spanish frigate as it departs Souda Bay during their scheduled deployment supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.

The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff has updated its maritime joint command and control guidance, reflecting changing practices across the fleet. Although the rewrite is part of regularly scheduled reviews, the timing is apt for world conditions. U.S. attention is moving east to a far more watery environment than the one the country has focused on for the last dozen or more years, and contentions among nations for waterway control continue to mount in areas such as the East China Sea.

February 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
An H-60S helicopter conducts deck landing qualifications on USS Milius destroyer off the coast of Guam. Milius was the first ship to begin installing CANES and will serve as the operational testing platform for the next-generation afloat network.

U.S. Navy officials expect to award a full-deployment contract for a new shipboard network this spring, and they plan to install the system on nine ships this year. The network provides commonality across the fleet, replacing multiple aging networks, improving interoperability and driving down costs.

February 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers
The USCGC Waesche, the second of the National Security Cutter class, was outfitted in 2013 with a suite of technologies procured under the Coast Guard’s C4ISR project.

When the U.S. Coast Guard fields its newest cutter next year, the ship will be equipped with an information technology package that offers common tools and capabilities among the cutter and aviation fleets. The technology suite will improve interoperability across the service and with other agencies, and it enhances situational awareness while providing flexibility for future upgrades.

December 3, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The United States must weigh its command and control (C2) capabilities before it embarks on a military plan instead of the other way around, according to the vice commander, U.S. Pacific Air Forces. Lt. Gen. Stanley T. Kresge, USAF, told the opening luncheon audience in TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii, that vulnerabilities have increased the importance of C2 in planning and execution.

“Oldthink in the U.S. military—which is how we do things today—is, you figure out your military plan, and then you sprinkle your command and control on it,” the general offered. “Instead, you have to understand your limitations in C2 in step one—not what we do today.”

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