All across the defense spectrum, C3I is gaining attention and getting better — and the demands on it are growing accordingly.
This nation’s command control communications and intelligence (C3I) is coming on strong from its also-ran status of the 1970s. It no longer takes a back seat to weapons, which need C3I as never before.
As the top-priority beneficiaries of the Reagan Administration’s long-range Strategic Modernization Program, strategic C3I systems are being upgraded, hardened, and dispersed more widely. They are also becoming more numerous and more mobile.
Consequently, such systems are shaping up as much better able to survive a nuclear strike, and to keep on operating, than they were even at the beginning of this decade — when they were vulnerable indeed.
Tactical C3I also shows improvement, thanks in large part to greater C3I teamwork — in programs and in applications — among the military services.
On both the strategic and tactical fronts, C3I has a long way to go, however, before military and civilian command authorities can take total comfort in its potential for making winners out of US forces and weapons in wartime.
There are many problems, and solving them is very tricky and expensive. C3I innovations and improvements account for nearly $36 billion in the FY '85 Defense budget. Congress has been kind to the Pentagon's C3I funding request in recent year. Given the current defense budget crunch, however, the lawmakers' largesse may be coming to an end.
Progress and Problems
Defense-wide progress and problems in C3I were made abundantly clear at the April 26-27 Air Force Association National Symposium on "Electronics and the Air Force— C3I Developments and Their Impact on Military Plans and Operations," held at Wakefield, Mass.
Even though the Symposium's military and civilian speakers ranged widely and variously among C3I and other topics, one common theme emerged.
It was this: For all the recent progress, C3I is becoming ever tougher to put into shape. In the strategic and tactical arenas, the demands on US C3I are growing so fast that improvements are hard-pressed to keep pace.
For example, strategic C3I is now being called upon not only to ensure that the US can deter and detect a nuclear strike, and retaliate with sustained effectiveness over several months of warfare, but also to become the central nervous system of an emerging and highly demanding nonnuclear defensive strategic posture as well.
As a result, C3I planners and designers have come smack up against an additional unprecedented, enormously difficult task. They must devise the C3I architecture for the multitiered defense against ballistic missiles that is the goal of the Administration's Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) program. And that's not all.
The Defense Department is putting together another program called Strategic Defense Architecture (SDA) 2000. Its ambitious goal is to integrate space defense, ballistic missile defense, and air defense. Such a broad integration will utterly depend on C3I and will demand a great deal of it and from it.
At the AFA Symposium, Dr. Donald C. Lathan, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for C3I, explained the rationale for the SDA 2000 program:
"It makes no sense to try and build some sort of ballistic missile defense [but] leave yourself wide open without any air defense against Soviet attack by cruise missiles and/or bombers."
Ditto for Soviet attack by anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons in space.
Dr. Latham's topic at the AFA Symposium, which attracted an audience of several hundred, was " C3I Progress to Date: Prospects for the Future."
The Symposium also featured several other speakers who dealt with tactical C3I ramifications that are germane not just to USAF but to all the services.
Harold Kitson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for C3I, discussed "Navy C3I," with special emphasis on progress and problems in Navy-Air Force interaction and interoperability.
Casting "a jaundiced eye at our C3I equipment," Army Lt. Gen. Robert C. Kingston, Commander in Chief, US Central Command, told of his unique and demanding C3I requirements when he spoke on the "Genesis of the US Central Command: Protecting US Interests in an Arc of Crisis."
USAF Lt. Gen. James R. Brickel, Deputy Commander in Chief of US Readiness Command and Vice Director of the US Joint Deployment Agency (JDA), discussed "Joint Deployment Systems: Joint C3I Systems" in the context of REDCOM's and JDA's wartime mobilization mission.
Staggering Complexity, Little Time
Dr. Latham described the prospective C3I battle-management role in SDI as embodying "a very complex set of functions" that would have to be done in a twinkling.
"We are trying to look," he said, "at how we would activate a defense that is going to have to be almost automatic, in a very dynamic situation … with thousands of objects in the air at any one time. We'd somehow have to do a tactical assessment over very long ranges against very complex threats. We would have to have the capability to modify our tactics in real time.
"Kill assessment is going to be difficult; you have to know what all your subsystems are doing—and [you have to] be able to stand the system down. Those are just a few of the key things."
The Deputy Under Secretary called the IFF (Identification, Friend or Foe) problem inherent in an SDI system "really staggering." Dr. Latham described the difficulty of the C3I tactical warning assessment problem with regard to missile launches, even now, as follows:
"Typically, there are 500 missile launches a year [by] the Soviet Union, ourselves, and others that we have to observe and assess." Moreover, "Just very recently, the Soviets launched a large number of ICBMs and SLBMs in a very short period out of operational silos, so our assessment problem is very real."
In the complicating context of SDI, Dr. Latham continues, "If you're going to do boost-phase kill, it's got to be activated within two to three minutes after the boosters leave the ground, and you'd better make sure it isn't a friendly launch. So you've got to have high-capacity communications and ADP [automated data processing] in space that will operate under very stressful conditions."
Dr. Latham described the exercising and testing of an SDI system as "an enormous challenge—a one-on-one test is going to be meaningless: how do we conduct a many-on-many test?"
He depicted the major battle-management functions of a multi-tiered defense against ballistic missile as involving:
¾ A system battle manager to consolidate the attack and kill-assessment information and intelligence, provide the overall defense strategy, exercise the doctrine of weapons release, monitor all the subsystems, and reconfigure the system as necessary.
¾ A boost-phase defense battle manager to watch the attack as it develops in that phase, coordinate and conduct the engagement of defensive weapons, and pass on battle information for the next phase.
¾ A midcourse-phase defense battle manager to assess the attack, receive and disseminate “launch and engagement authority,” conduct “the midcourse battle,” and pass on battle information for the next phase.
¾ A terminal-phase battle manager to assess the attack, receive and disseminate “sensor-activate and engagement authority,” conduct the terminal battle against RVs plummeting into the atmosphere, and pass information to the system battle manager.
DoD has budgeted $99 million for work on missile-defense battle-management C3 and systems analysis in FY ’85, Dr. Latham said, adding, “We are looking at such things as ‘smart’ algorithms, fault-tolerant computers, communications networks that we haven’t ever invented before, and some way to build a test facility to evaluate some of these things.”
The “Must” List
In the systems analysis area, the SDI C3I planners are “looking at responses to threats” and “trying to develop an overarching system and operational concept for integrating all of this — and that will go on for years and years,” the Deputy Under Secretary declared.
Dr. Latham continued: “What we need is a system that could have five to ten years of operation without maintenance, hardened memories and logic, 100-MIPS processors in space, and large construction sets that are essentially failure-free.” He also ticked off such additional “SDI needs” as totally dependable software programs, millimeter-wave and laser space communications, multimode space, air, and terrestrial communications networks, and completely reliable interfaces between human operators and space-based weapons.
All this, DoD’s top man for C3I emphasized, adds up to “a tremendous technology challenge, and the, on top of that, it’s an incredible systems challenge.”
Dr. Latham also made the point that nearly all proven C3 technology and demonstrated systems capability (“demonstrated, or at least worked on heavily”) for ballistic missile defense now lie almost solely in the singular arena of terminal defense.
“We’ve got some reasonably we-developed systems concepts for terminal defense,” he said. “We know how to do things a la the [once-planned] Safeguard [A B M system], if we wanted to do it again.”
Otherwise, Dr. Latham made clear, the Pentagon is starting from scratch on C3I for SDI. “Very little has been done on midcourse, and certainly nothing on boost-phase,” he said.
This is why the development of C3I technologies for boost-phase and midcourse target surveillance, acquisition, tracking, and kill assessment (SATKA) is attracting major attention in the $26 billion, five-year SDI program.
“First of all,” said Dr. Latham, “we need a threat data base. For example, what does a Russian post-boost vehicle look like? So we’re going to have to work at post-boost imaging, with a multispectral approach. We’re going to have to develop IR [infrared] sensors with millions of detectors in them, and coolers to cool them.”
Also on the SDI C3I technologists’ lengthy lists of “must” projects are, for example, IR detectors for midcourse defense and airborne optical and radar imagers for terminal defense, the Deputy Under Secretary said.
In the development of a multilayered defense against ballistic missiles, C3I — not weapons — will set the pace. “The C3I battle-management systems analysis area is probably going to dominate how the [SDI] weapons and all of that come out, and we’re going to try to drive the program from the top down with C3I and battle-management work,” Dr. Latham declared.
The Soviet Challenge
The backdrop for the Deputy Under Secretary’s discourse on the tough technological and systems challenges of the SDI program was his sobering assessment of the Soviet threat that the program is being designed to meet. In general, he said, the Soviets “are outspending us and outproducing us, and will continue to do so” in terms of military systems and forces. Dr. Latham was joined in this assessment at the AFA Symposium by USAF Col. Donald “Desi” Arnaiz, Tactical Air Command’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence.
Both agreed that the Soviet Union clearly has an established and growing first-strike capability. Dr. Latham emphasized, in that vein, that US C3I is under the “very heavy burden” of making sure that the National Command Authorities (NCA) recognize a legitimate threat warning and a first strike when they see one, can assess its magnitude and damage, have the sustained means of ordering and orchestrating retaliation, and can carry on a nuclear engagement for some time following initial launch. Thus it is “very important” that the NCA “maintain contact with our strategic reserves,” such as nuclear submarines, Dr. Latham said.
Above all, he declared, the US strategic C3 system “must ensure that the NCA can stay connected not only to the forces but to the civil structure” and “must be perceived to be convincingly capable of responding to enemy aggression.”
The US seems to be playing catch-up in C3I. “The Soviets,” Dr. Latham said, “have gone to a great deal of trouble to provide a survivable and endurable C3I. They exercise their system all the time. They jam themselves, with realistic jamming, at the tactical and strategic levels.”
Moreover, he said, the Soviets “have retained manual Morse and HF [high frequency] as their backbone communications. The Soviet Union is littered with varied antennas and with aboveground HF antennas. It is clearly their way to communicate if all else fails.
“They are doing a very good job in communications and operational security, and they are very good at what I call electronic combat.”
Strategic C3 Requirements
The Defense Department’s C3I chief summed up his “personal view” of US strategic C3I requirements:
¾ “Absolute control of nuclear weapons, from storage sites to whatever systems the nuclear weapons are going to be deployed on, under all conditions.
¾ Making sure that “there’s no way anyone can come in and decapitate the NCA; that is, disconnect the NCA from the force commanders so that we couldn’t launch the force or [so that] it would be severely degraded.”
¾ “No cheap shots succeed — high-altitude EMP [electromagnetic pulse] or a few cruise missiles coming in, hitting a few command centers, and disconnecting the system.”
¾ “We want to be sure that the system is perceived to underwrite deterrence, and that it is sufficiently complicated [so] that he [the would-be attacker] can’t think through his campaign and win the war, in come way, in his own mind.”
¾ “Six months’ worth of endurance. We have under way a very extensive set of work — in its third year now — called the Nuclear Weapons Master Plan that is addressing all these issues.”
Improvements of the C3I system since 1981 have indeed been impressive. As Gen. Bennie L. Davis, Commander in Chief of Strategic Air Command, told Air Force Magazine early this year, “We have made more progress over the last three years C3 than we have in the last twenty-five years — but we have not yet arrived.” Concurring, Dr. Latham claims that DoD and the services now “have a firm analytical grasp of the relationship between the doctrine and policies necessary for strategic deterrence and the C3I capabilities to carry these out.” Moreover, he says, “We are making good progress in developing and upgrading our C3I systems.”
Progress in C3
As examples of such progress, Dr. Latham recounted the following in his AFA Symposium address:
¾ A good start on the very-low-frequency (VLF) Ground Wave Emergency Network (GWEN) system as “an overlay to the US telephone system” for linking the NCA with NORAD, SAC, all strategic bomber and ICBM wings, and the PAVE PAWS coastal radars that watch for incoming submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
Sixty GWEN towers have been installed, with many yet to come. DoD plans to deploy 200 to 300 GWEN nodes, and may wind up with even more.
At the AFA Symposium, Dr. Latham was asked whether the fixed-position GWEN sites would be able to survive Soviet ICBM targeting. He responded that “The whole idea is to proliferate enough nodes so that the Soviets would have to use several hundred warheads to take them out. GWEN is a packet-switch network, so if a node is taken out between two points, you can route around that destroyed or damaged node to some other set of nodes…
“Typically, the GWEN sites are going to be in remote areas. [An attacker] either would have to have a sabotage team go to each of these nodes, or target each one of them with an RV. And I don’t think that the Soviets, even with the number of warheads they have, would waste RVs on every GWEN node.
“We’ve done calculations on how many nodes they’d have to take out in order to cut the network — cut it, for example, north to south, so that we’d be denied communications [across the cut] from, say, the Washington area to, say, SAC. And it’s a lot of RVs…
“We will probably put GWEN up into Canada and probably out into the Alaska area so that we can connect up to our air defense forces.”
¾ In the “command and decision” area of C3I, fixed command centers have been upgraded by such means as better power systems and hardening against EMP. Four E-4 airborne command post aircraft also have been hardened. And a mobile command center program is under way for SAC and other nuclear commanders.
¾ VLF receivers are being installed on bombers and airborne tankers.
¾ Methods of communicating with ballistic missile submarines are being upgraded and expanded. The Navy is intent on developing a long-range, long-loitering aircraft to supplant its C-130 Take Charge and Move Out (TACAMO) platform now used for this purpose. An “extremely low frequency (ELF) antenna grid is under construction in upper Michigan as an expansion, in effect, of such a grid already emplaced in Wisconsin for ELF testing.
“Test receivers have been deployed [on submarines], and the tests have been very successful,” Dr. Latham told the Symposium audience. “We expect IOC in 1985 and full operational capability in 1987 on all submarines, including the SSNs [nuclear-powered attack submarines].”
¾ The Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) is being sharpened up with digital technology and by other means, and the computers and networks of the World-Wide Military Command and Control System (WWMCCS) are being made more capable and more secure.
¾ For C3 reconstitution or augmentation under duress, DoD is considering such innovations as “barrage balloons or quickly erectable towers” for LF and VLF communications, Dr. Latham said.
¾ Submarine-launched ballistic-missile-coverage gaps to the southeast and southwest of the US will be closed by additional PAVE PAWS phased-array radars and over-the-horizon backscatter (OTH-B) radars to warn of attack from the east, west, and south. PAVE PAWS radars on the east and west coasts now keep watch over the more northerly approaches to the North American mainland.
¾ Improvements of the satellite early warning systems are afoot to increase performance and survivability. Nuclear-detection sensors are being integrated into the Navstar Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation satellites. This Integrated Operational Nuclear Detection System (IONDS) will be fully operational — with eighteen GPS satellites in orbit — in 1988.
Early Warning and Communications
Moreover, the Pentagon is in the process of procuring four new Defense Support Program (DSP) early warning satellites. The focal-plane, scanning infrared sensors of these satellites will utilize 6,000 detectors. The satellites will be “additionally hardened” against attack, and will have “crosslink capability,” Dr. Latham told his attentive AFA Symposium audience.
The Deputy Under Secretary also said that six mobile ground terminals will be purchased “for readouts of the information” from the new DSP satellites, “so if our fixed sites go away in wartime, we would still have SDP data.” Such mobile vans “will be based in the southwest part of the United States.” Dr. Latham said.
DoD is also working up a new advanced-warning satellite concept “to replace DSP someday,” Dr. Latham said, adding: “It is being viewed as part of the tactical warning attack assessment system and the Strategic Defense Initiative system.” DoD requests for industry proposals of such a concept are expected to be issued in relatively short order.
¾ As to space communications, the first of the third-generation super-high-frequency (SHF) Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS III) satellites is now operational, along with three precursorial DSCS II satellites. Four other DSCSII satellites are orbiting as spares. The second DSCSIII satellite and another DSCS II satellite are scheduled for launching this year.
¾ In the ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) regime, four Fleet Satellite Communications (FLTSATCOM) satellites are operational, and four new LEASAT satellites are in store for additional UHG coverage. The first of the LEASATs is scheduled for launching this month (July).
“I see us as having UHF forever,” Dr. Latham said. “It’s relatively inexpensive. But we will transition strategic users off UHF to Milstar when it comes into the force in the 1990s. So the strategic UHF AFSATCOM [Air Force Satellite Communications] channels on FLTSATCOM and other [satellite] hosts will gradually go away as we turn to Milstar.”
In the extremely-high-frequency (EHF) Milstar (Military Strategic and Tactical Relay) system, DoD is “trying to build a very survivable, very capable satellite system like we’ve never had before, with adequate bandwidths so we can get high jam-resistance,” Dr. Latham said.
By placing Milstar terminals on a wide variety and great numbers of mobile platforms, such as submarines and land vehicles, and by “taking a number of initiatives to make [the satellites] very survivable,” they system “will be here even under the worst set of circumstances, we believe,” Dr. Latham said.
“We are building Milstar with a mobile operational capability so that we can do all the telemetry and command and control and all the network configuring of the satellites from fully mobile platforms, be they aircraft, ships, or ground-mobile command centers,” The Deputy Under Secretary explained.
Consisting of a constellation of satellites in circular orbits at low and high inclinations, the Milstar system is being planned for full operational deployment in the late 1980s. The system will feature crosslinks, frequency hoping, time shuffling, and other techniques and will be hardened against nuclear and laser attack. It is designed to provide highly survivable, two-way secure voice and data communications, but is often referred to, in Pentagon circles, as much more than that — as a “multipurpose” system of extremely high classification. Dr. Latham has referred to it as “a technological bearcat.”
In fact, Milstar’s capability will be tested long before the system’s deployment. At the AFA Symposium, Dr. Latham said that two upcoming FLTSATCOM satellites will embody “the first sets of a Milstar-capable system,” thus “allowing us to do end-to-end testing with the small packages on those two satellites as early as 1986.”
For USAF, Milstar means that its bombers, airborne command posts, tankers, and early warning aircraft will be assured of staying constantly in touch with each other and with ground and sea command centers anywhere in the world in wartime. All Milstar circuits will also be hardened and shielded against EMP that would ensure from nuclear detonations.
Elaborating on his exceptionally well-received presentation at the AFA Symposium, Dr. Latham later harked back to the C3I situation, as it existed when the Administration undertook its Strategic Modernization Program in 1981:
“We found C3I systems in place that were intended to control strategic weapons but [that] were more vulnerable — less survivable and enduring — than we deemed is absolutely required.
“In addition, many of our tactical systems simply could not be depended upon to operate in the face of enemy electronic countermeasures, or even, in some cases, through the dense electronic environment caused by friendly systems.
“To compound the problem, we were giving the enemy’s C3I capability a free ride by not investing sufficient resources in our own ECM systems or in countermeasures. Each of these areas has been addressed as a matter of priority — as have some of the underlying management issues.”
Protecting the Sea Lines
In Harold Kitson’s AFA Symposium presentation, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for C3I described how the fast-growing Soviet threat to US sea lines of communication — much of it from long-range Soviet Naval Aviation (SNA) Backfire bombers armed with standoff cruise missiles — has necessitated shoulder-to-shoulder Air Force-Navy operations in protection of those sea lines.
The latest in a series of joint-service Memoranda of Agreement in this regard was signed by Gen. Charles A. Gabriel, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, and Adm. James D. Watkins, Chief of Naval Operations, on September 9, 1982. Titled “Joint USN/USAF Efforts to Enhance USAF Contribution to Maritime Operations,” it sets forth the following specific initiatives:
¾ Increased integration of Air Force and Naval forces in tactical training exercises, including maneuvers sponsored by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
¾ Heightened cooperation in interoperable command control and communications equipment and procedures.
¾ Greater cooperation in improving tactical weapons effectiveness, which depends in large measure on the ability of both services’ interceptor, attack, and airborne warning and control aircraft to communicate with one another.
In his annual report to Congress this year, Navy Secretary John F. Lehman, jr., reported: “We are particularly proud of the progress that has been made in the last three years in integrating the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps forces in joint exercises.”
Secretary Lehman continued, “Air Force AWACS, fighter, attack, and tanker participation in Naval exercises is now routine and extremely effective. Similarly, Navy and Marine air support of the land battle is proving of unique value and flexibility in every theater.”
At the AFA Symposium, Mr. Kitson repeated Secretary Lehman’s comment and expressed his agreement. He noted, however, that joint-service maritime exercises have had some major problems and that much needs to be done by way of attaining satisfactory C3 interoperability.
Describing the geographical range of a typical Navy interception of approaching bombers, Mr. Kitson said that the F-14 Tomcats would range out and fan out form their aircraft carriers so far as to cover an area that is the equivalent of one-third of the continental US.
“The Air Force cannot just pop over the horizon and play in this type of a scenario,” Mr. Kitson asserted. “They need to train with us.”
Two joint exercises — Northern Wedding ’82 and FLEETEX 1-83 — provided the retrospective settings for Mr. Kitson’s discussion of the value and problems of USAF-USN joint operations.
Northern Wedding ’82 was a large-scale North Atlantic exercise in defense of Norway. It included strike operations, antisubmarine warfare (ASW), anti-air warfare (AAW), and amphibious operations.
“The major C3 lesson from this exercise was that the AWACS aircraft could successfully participate in a joint maritime warfare scenario,” Mr. Kitson said. He also said, however, that “the first use of AWACS in a maritime exercise of this magnitude served to point out some areas which needed to be addressed, such as providing common AAW reporting procedures, training requirements, and a Navy liaison officer to the E-3A [AWACS] aircrew.”
FLEETEX 1-83 was a Northern Pacific operation for integrating Air Force units into Naval battle-force theater-level operations. In it, Navy E-C Hawkeyes practiced at controlling USAF F-15 Combat Air Patrols (CAPs), and AWACS aircraft did the same with the Navy’s F-14 CAPs. A heavy cruiser also controlled Air Force CAP and vectoring intercepts.
The results were heartening but far from perfect. “The exercise pointed out the value and the added dimension that the E-3A provides in our outer air-defensive zones,” Mr. Kitson said. But it also showed “the need for better training of both Navy and Air Force personnel in joint carrier battle-force operations,” he added.
Mr. Kitson said that most C3I problems encountered in joint exercises have to do with Air Force unfamiliarity with standard Navy operating procedures. This, he said, can be resolved through better planning and liaison and by more exercises.
The Compatibility Problem
“What cannot be resolved, however,” he said, “are hardware and software incompatibilities — systems developed independently of each other and without a common systems-engineered architecture.
“This is where we need to take a hard look. It makes no sense for one service to develop, for example, a multimillion-dollar anti-jam [AJ] voice link that is incompatible with the existing AJ voice system being developed by the other service. Unique service requirements notwithstanding, we just can’t satisfy everybody’s pet rock. The future must — by necessity — rest with interoperable systems, and we… need to view the real-world operational requirements beyond our parochial interests.”
In this vein, Mr. Kitson alluded to the controversy between the Navy and the Air Force over the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS) for anti-jam, interoperable data and voice communications. Because of fundamental differences in their tactical combat requirements, Air Force fighters rely heavily on voice communications for dogfighting and offensive scenarios; Navy fighters, on data communications for quick vectoring and long-range weapons release — in a very intensive jamming environment — against bombers coming in over the oceans.
Consequently, the communications links of the Air Force JTIDS is oriented to voice; that of the Navy JTIDS, to data. The Air Force now proposes to go beyond JTIDS in developing the Enhanced JTIDS, called EJS that will emphasize voice communications even more. USAF is also resisting the incorporation of the message standard called TADIL-J (Tactical Data Information Link-Joint) that the Navy insists upon for JTIDS.
At the AFA Symposium, Mr. Kitson pressed the Navy’s point. The incorporation of TADIL-J, he said, will be necessary for the Navy “to fully capitalize on JTIDS.” Without TADIL-J, “we lose a significant portion of the inherent capability of JTIDS.”
He continued, “In order for our JTIDS terminals to be interoperable with Air Force JTIDS terminals, we must both communicate on a common message standard. TADIL-J is the agreed-to common standard. Since the Air Force and NATO have deployed JTIDS before TADIL-J has been developed, they have been forced to use an interim JTIDS message standard [IJMS].”
Mr. Kitson’s unrelenting bottom line: “Until both Navy and Air Force terminals are converted to TADIL-J, we will not be interoperable with the Air Force AWACS terminals, nor with NATO AWACS. This problem needs to be worked by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the JCS. We, the Navy, are firmly committed to proceeding with TADIL-J.”
USAF Cool to JTIDS
The Air Force clearly has misgivings not only about a distributive communications link that would favor data but also about JTIDS with or without such a link.
Gen. W. L. Creech, Commander in Chief of USAF’s Tactical Air Command, claims that JTIDS just does not meet USAF needs for high anti-jam voice communications near the forward edge of the battle area.
DoD is irritated with the Air Force for having cooled on JTIDS and for giving much higher priority to the EJS anti-jam voice radio system that, despite its nomenclature, would not be compatible with JTIDS.
As a result, DoD directed USAF to modify its EJS design to make it interoperable with JTIDS. In this, DoD also hopes to influence the Air Force to step up its deployment of JTIDS terminals, which up to now have been programmed for installation in only two wings of F-15s and in no F-16s at all.
In his AFA Symposium address, Mr. Kitson also cautioned the Air Force and the Navy against developing incompatible IFF systems and techniques. He said that his admonition also applies to NATO air forces. IFF interoperability, he said, “is essential if we are to operate in the same areas without shooting each other down.”
There is also the danger, Mr. Kitson pointed out, that Air Force and Navy will diverge in their developments of new electronic countermeasures. “Our electronic warfare approaches must be coordinated so that we do not jam each other’s receivers,” he declared.
In developing a new, highly automated communications link for its EA-6B Prowler EW aircraft, the Navy expects to “learn a great deal from the Air Force Compass Call experience, which should make our planning much easier,” Mr. Kitson said. Moreover, he said, the Navy is benefiting from USAF’s over-the-horizon radar program in developing its own lower-powered, relocatable version, called ROTHR.
“While the prime purpose of the ROTHR is to provide information to our battle forces, some of this same data will be of use to the Air Force,” he said. “We are, therefore, working closely with them to ensure that data that we obtain can be communicated to Air Force sites, and tied into the data that they received from their OTH-Rs.”
Finally, Mr. Kitson referred to the Space Based Radar (SBR) program that is “to provide badly needed, wide-area surveillance for the [Navy] battle force as well as warning data for the Air Force” as a victim of funding cuts “which are as much due to the lack of the Air Force and the Navy being able to agree on program management as to anything else.” Because it is “a costly program in any of is versions,” it will go nowhere unless it is “well supported” by both of the services, Mr. Kitson declared.
The Challenge for Central Command
At the AFA Symposium, US Central Command’s General Kingston described the C3I and logistics enormities inherent in the execution of USCENTCOM’s combined-arms mission.
For example, the General said his command’s area of responsibility — primarily Southwest Asia — is larger than the continental US, and “the distances present considerable obstacles to both movement and communications.”
From north to south, USCENTCOM’s territory stretches a distance equivalent to that between Tehran and London. From the US East Coast to the Persian Gulf, the distance is 7,000 miles — a fourteen-hour flight on an air-refueled, nonstop C-5 airlifter. The sea line of communication through the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal is 8,100 nautical miles; around the Cape of Good Hope, 12,000 nautical miles.
Moreover, General Kingston noted, the region “is characterized by isolated surface lines of communications and limited terminals for air and sea movement,” and has “just two-thirds of the paved road mileage found in Florida,” where — at MacDill AFB — USCENTCOM is headquartered.
General Kingston drew comparisons with the US European and Pacific Commands. Both, he noted, have substantial US forces and C3 systems in place. Both also have “extensive logistics infrastructures” and support agreements with their host nations and treaty partners. On all such counts, asserted General Kingston, USCENTCOM “has none.”
“In short,” he added, “if we had to send a combat force into the Central Command area, we would start from almost zero in terms of combat power and support structure in the region. So my challenge is to be capable of moving a sizable force to the region quickly; to access, process, use, and disseminate information from national strategic and tactical sources; to exercise effective command and control over these forces as they bed down across a large geographical area; and to sustain the force logistically.”
All this, the General said, would involve heavy use of a variety of tactical and strategic communications. He described the situation as follows:
“USCENTCOM must maintain strategic communications upward, necessary linkages laterally, and tactical communications downward. At my headquarters, I have access to AUTODIN, AUTOVON, AUTOSEVOCOM, WWMCCS inter-computer network, command telephone, mobile radio, PAGES networks, VHF satellite, and point-to-point ring-down communications to my components.
“In transit to the region, I have UHF satellite capability aboard my EC-135Y command and control aircraft, which provides secure voice capability [with] AUTOSEROOM interface capabilities through my command center.”
“Current communications capabilities in the area of responsibility are limited to VHF satellite, embassy record communication, and embassy telephone communications.”
Once his headquarters is deployed, Genera Kingston said, it would be completely dependent on space assets for its strategic communications. “Strategic service in the area is extremely limited,” he declared. “The Defense Communications System (DCS) backbone [of my strategic communications) cannot be directly accessed except by satellite.”
Once it is set up on the ground in its combat arena, USCENTCOM’s headquarters would require multi-channel access to a DCS super-high-frequency satellite, to a UHF satellite for secure intratheater voice communications, to HF radio nets for secure record traffic, and to AUTOVON access via DCS.
Compounding his C3 problem, said General Kingston: “The limited HF links must transmit beyond optimum distances to reach DCS entry points. HF communications are easily jammed, and are subject to frequent atmospheric interruption.”
Desperate Need for Modern C3
General Kingston left an impression of a nearly desperate need for better C3 equipment. He described most of it as “old, of limited reliability, and still in short supply.”
Moreover, with the exception of some modern, commercial, long-line telephone systems in Saudi Arabia and a few other nations, “little of the telephone communications system in the region is of military value,” the General declared.
What he needs, he said, is new tactical C3 equipment that is compact, can be transported by C-130s, and is ground-mobile. It must also be able to stand up under extreme conditions of heat, unstable power sources, and continuous penetration by dirt, dust, and sand. Such equipment must be versatile, the USCENTCOM Commander made clear. It must process a high volume of voice and data. It must also transfer — quickly and reliably — high-quality imagery, map overlays, and digital data from reconnaissance sensors, he said, adding, “This will require circuits for computers to talk to computers, and for high quality, secure voice to pass urgent traffic on a nearly real-time basis.”
And then General Kingston sounded an alarm.
“I am concerned,” the General declared, “that our old equipment just won’t stand the test. USCENTCOM’s goal is a responsive, interoperable system or network of systems that works from the ground up. New C3I developments must be able to contribute to the overall mission of commanding and controlling my forces.”
Conveying pride in the quality, training, and leadership of the combined-arms units at his disposal, General Kingston expressed optimism that his command “will soon have the [C3I] equipment that we require,” providing “there is sufficient budgetary support from the Congress.”
There had better be such support he made plain, because the Soviets — given their military buildup, including “a large and capable Navy” — “can dominate the Eurasian landmass today, endanger our vital lines of communications, and threaten our national interests if they so choose,” General Kingston warned.
The Joint Deployment System
Far-flung, complex C3 is also the hallmark of the US Readiness Command and the US Joint Deployment Agency, both of which — like USCENTCOM — are headquartered at MacDill AFB, Fla. Their progress and vicissitudes were described at the AFA Symposium by USAF Lt.. Gen. James R. Brickel, Vice Commander in Chief of USREDCOM and Vice Director of JDA.
As an arm of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, JDA was created in 1979 to integrate DoD’s three Transportation Operating Agencies (TOAs) — Military Airlift Command, Military Sealift Command, and Military Traffic Management Command — into a single transportation system called the Joint Deployment System (JDS).
The need for JDS was an urgent one. In 1978, Nifty Nugget, a DoD command-post mobilization exercise for war in Europe, had demonstrated beyond all doubt that the US was simply incapable of such mobilization. There wasn’t anywhere near enough airlift or sealift, and what there was didn’t get to Europe with the warfighting wherewithal in time. C3 confusion characterized the whole affair.
Now, as General Brickel made clear, things look better. The JDA has a grip on its mission of “planning, coordinating, and monitoring deployments, redeployments, and movements of mobilized forces and materiel necessary to meet military objectives.
“We are in reasonable shape,” the General told his audience. “We are very well satisfied with where we are at the moment, but we still face big challenges…. We are now moving into the operational phase [of mobilization deployment], dealing with such things as training.”
As a result of improvements in C3 software in the WWMCCS system for CINCs worldwide and in the increasing comprehensiveness and accuracy of the WWMCCS data base, the JDA is now confident of its ability to plan crisply for quick deployments of Stateside troops and materiel to wherever they are initially needed, General Brickel said.
Changing such plans in midstream, in keeping with fluctuations of combat requirements within or among theaters of operation, is quite another matter, he said.
“What we can’t do well is alter the flows once they’ve begun,” the General declared. Major reasons for this, he added, are the lingering shortfalls of airlift and sealift capacities, together with C3 inadequacies that are being addressed.
“In the deployment world, the two biggest problems are availability of lift and C3,” he asserted. In keeping with this, he added, “We are a strong supporter of the C-17 program for the Military Airlift Command.”
Among many mobilization- C3 innovations that JDA has introduced in the last five years, a highly important one is its Rapid Deployment Modeling Capability. As General Brickel explained it:
“We are dealing with multiple divisions, and we must be able to sustain them in the Arctic, in jungles, or deserts, and plan for it quickly. If they are going to Southwest Asia, a critical need would be water, so they would need water-drilling and pipeline equipment. They would not need [that] if they were going to Europe.
“So we must have a standardized way of interchanging plans for deployments, and we must be able to alter those plans very rapidly — in a crisis-action process. What we do is change [computerized] deployment models, using our standardized, interchangeable force modules.”
Moreover, the USREDCOM-JDA apparatus comes up against such rapid-deployment questions as, said General Brickel, “Do you plan for air defense or air assault first? How much water will you need? What are you initial and final arrival dates? The whole purpose is to be able to look at all the ‘what ifs,’” he said. “In the past, this has not been done.”
From Push to Pull
General Brickel was asked whether the JDA can stop a large-scale deployment once it has begun.
“Yes,” he replied, “we have done so in command-post exercises when another part of the world takes priority. We can stop the lift flow, but it’s difficult. It’s like taking a freight train, slowing it down, and starting it in another direction.”
The process of sustaining airlift and sealift raises the problem of transition, at some point, from “push to pull,” General Brickel said. At the beginning of a deployment, airlift and sealift to a given overseas commander are predicated on what the JDA has already programmed for him to get. But after combat has begun, they must be “iteratively” adjusted to the commander’s changing needs as he sees them, the General explained.
Precisely planned and executed deployments have “tremendous payoff in terms of high weapons effectiveness and reliability,” General Brickel declared. “They allow the combat commanders to carry out their jobs with many fewer tons of munitions.”
Daily Report: The day's top news on the US Air Force, airpower, and national security issues.
Daily Report: Read the day's top news on the US Air Force, airpower, and national security issues.
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