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On C4I Interoperability: New Challenges in 21st Century Warfare

  OCTOBER 21, 2003    

My name is Lieutenant General William S. Wallace, Commanding General for the Combined Arms Center, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), Fort Leavenworth , Kansas .  I appreciate the opportunity to testify on a very broad area of military capability labeled "Command and Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence" or what we mercifully call C4I interoperability in acronym.

As the commander of the Combined Arms Center , one of my focus areas is Battle Command (BC).  I am the TRADOC's proponent for BC.  Also, it was my privilege to command U.S. Soldiers in our nation's recent invasion of Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein's repressive regime.  Relying on that experience and my current role with BC, I will focus my testimony on "what worked" and "what did not work" in regards to the C4I interoperability in context of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).  

It's important that you understand that my perspective of OIF is quite different than those heard earlier this month from Admiral Giambastiani and Brigadier General Cone.  Their study focus was on the joint/operational level of OIF.  As V Corps Commander, my view was considerably more from the tactical level - the pointy end of the spear.  

Inherent at this tactical level is the prosecution of maneuver warfare; characterized by mobile, widely dispersed, high operational tempo, and simultaneous execution on a very fluid and non-linear battlefield.  More so than at the operational level of warfare, the tactical level requires C4I technologies that are untethered from fixed architectures.  The tactical level requires mobile command posts and communication networks that can support a corps in the attack.  Quite frankly, it is at the tactical level that we face our greatest C4I challenges to achieve the capabilities envisioned for the future force.  

It's also important that you know the painstaking efforts that V Corps and the Department of the Army (DA) undertook in preparation for OIF in regards to C4I.  In August 2002, the Army had a myriad of different automation architectures supporting command and control (C2).  They ran the gamut from digital screens to plywood boards covered with maps and acetate.  

In recent years Force XXI units, such as 4th ID, received the lion's share of C4I initiatives and were fully digitized.  Europe and specifically V Corps, was in the midst of our own C2 redesign to leverage digitization to enhance C2 capabilities.  Likewise, the XVIII Airborne Corps had employed its own unique automation solutions to enhance C2.  The rest of the Army, especially the Reserve, National Guard, and combat service support (CSS) force structures, had little or no digitized C2 capabilities.  

The force configuration necessary for decisive operations in Iraq allocated underneath V Corps was comprised of units representing diverse and sometimes incompatible C4I architectures.  In order to fight within a cohesive framework of C4I interoperability, the Army quickly prioritized efforts to patch, modify, and standardize the existing architectures of the deploying units.  

Led by U.S. Army TRADOC, an army of smart guys with resources descended upon us adapting the V Corps framework for managing our C2 redesign and C4I integration.  We had to get the assembled force on the same sheet of "C4I music" in terms of hardware, software, and tactics, techniques, and procedures.  We focused on developing solutions for Battle Command on the Move (BCOTM), Common Operational Picture (COP), Blue Force Tracking (BFT), joint fires integration, integrated air picture, combat service support; clear voice command net, and collaborative tools.  

After seven months of intense C4I integration efforts of fielding, testing, training, evaluating, and fixing, V Corps crossed the line of departure on March 20th commencing the ground war.  While not perfect, we had come a long way in terms of C4I.  The effort I just described was nothing short of Herculean, a tribute to military men and women, and exceptional support from our civilian and contractor work force.  

In spite of its success, this experience was very painful and we must prepare better before crossing the next line of departure.  In fact, building upon the lessons learned from OIF, the Army is committed to leveling the C4I playing field across the current force.  And because we are a nation at war, the priority of effort is going to those units preparing for the next rotations into Afghanistan and Iraq .  

Now, what worked?  OIF was characterized by rapid task re-organization across all echelons to enable exploitation of enemy vulnerabilities, and execution of branch, sequel, and follow-on operations.  We made aggressive road marches and maneuvers at distances and tempos unheard of in previous campaigns, separating lower echelon combat units beyond Line of Sight (LOS) connectivity to their higher HQs.  From my assault command post, we accomplished joint, operational, and tactical collaboration and coordination at the battle's forward edge.  

OIF provided a substantial glimpse into the advantage of waging network enhanced warfare, even as it revealed the limitations of our developing C4I capabilities.  The situational awareness of commanders at every level during OIF exceeded that of any modern war.  Satellite-based Blue and Log Force Tracking with email exchange capabilities enabled synchronization of command and staff tasks at theater, operational, and tactical levels.  

Single channel tactical satellite (TACSAT) at the Corps and divisional levels enabled broadcast C2 without regard to terrain or distance.  Some would say the ground war was won on TACSAT.  Using satellite-based Blue Force Tracking, leaders on the ground were able to successfully control the furious fight, receive changes to missions, achieve situational awareness, and navigate unfamiliar terrain using digitized map sheets that displayed Blue Force locations in near-real time.  

I saw more of the fight than I expected to be able to see from my Command and Control Vehicle (C2V).  Enabled with satellite based communications my assault command post was mobile, responsive, connected, and allowed me to be where I could best influence the fight anywhere on the battlefield.  In the digital environment of my headquarters, the Common Operational Picture provided exceptional situational awareness because of our joint interoperability with higher headquarters.  

Having the ability to track the theater air picture and theater ballistic missile launches added to our awareness and provided systems redundancy.  Being able to track the adjacent 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (IMEF) on the same screen with the same "iconology" and graphic control measures was essential.  

What worked?  Outstanding system products like the Command and Control Personal Computer (C2PC), Blue Force Tracking (BFT), Automated Deep Operations Coordination System (ADOCCS), Air Missile Defense Work Station (AMDWS), and the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS) enabled us to achieve an unprecedented level of combined and joint arms synergy.  Time Sensitive Targets were deconflicted in a matter of minutes using a Theater-wide Joint Fires Coordination Information System.   

For example, through the eyes of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), transmitted by Global Broadcasting System, we could observe an enemy artillery battery firing on our troops, then coordinate over Tactical Voice and single channel TACSAT for its subsequent destruction by Air Force, Marine, or Naval aircraft in close support of the ground campaign.  

What didn't work?  As I marveled at how leveraging this information technology gave me unparalleled control of my battle formations, I also observed subordinate leaders on the tactical field struggling with the limitations of their static, terrestrial based networks.  Despite the introduction of Battle Command On the Move (BCOTM) capabilities that I enjoyed in my assault command post (CP), the vast majority of tactical leaders and CPs enjoyed few on the move capabilities.  Most were tethered to a CP and largely dependant upon line of sight communications.  

Case in point.  At the corps level the G2 could see individual fighting positions defending a critical bridge because we had a UAV leading the lead formations.  But we could not get the data down to the unit who was taking the objective because all the CP's were moving.  It was a deliberate attack at the corps level, but a movement to contact at the battalion level.  

Not having satellite capability, most tactical CPs received connectivity services from Mobile Subscriber Equipment (MSE).  What capability MSE provides is done so at the Warfighter's expense, as he must trade considerable strategic lift, force protection, key terrain, tactical flexibility, time of installation, and C4I capability in return for what is largely intra-Corps voice and data service for stationary command posts that take hours to install.  The Army's MSE tactical network does not effectively support high tempo, 21st Century maneuver warfare.  It must be replaced as quickly as possible.  

The Army must exploit the BCOTM principles proven in OIF.  We must invest in the redesign of CP structures to enable commander centric operations on the move, while taking advantage of the power of the network.  Mobile, satellite networked CPs would have a smaller footprint.  Their satellite-enhanced connectivity could feasibly allow for some traditional CP functions to be performed from a distant sanctuary or possibly from Home Station Operation Centers.  The CP's smaller footprint could improve its deployability while saving the combatant commander significant amounts of strategic lift.  Those enhanced CPs would have improved survivability by offering a smaller physical presence on the battlefield.  

No matter how perfect a future network and CP we build, it won't do us much good until we fix the overarching problem of bandwidth management.  Limited bandwidth was a major issue during OIF.  While fixed command and control installations reliably use high-bandwidth communications, the communications architecture for mobile or semi-mobile CPs at the tactical level is too fragile and not robust enough to support our needs.  It effected collaboration, information sharing and in some cases, the Commander's ability to command.  In an environment where competition for limited bandwidth is fierce, we must seek efficiencies through a more sophisticated management solution.  The time to fix bandwidth problems is now, before we deploy to the next fight.  

Once the Army overcomes satellite bandwidth constraints, we can aggressively address the "Digital Divide" that exists between the operational and the tactical levels of war.  We can extend the power of the network down to the tactical level.  Despite our efforts to realize network enhanced warfare since Desert Storm, the trigger puller on the ground still can't tap into the network and realize its benefits.  In OIF, this was most pronounced in dissemination of intelligence information.  Despite all the incredible products at the disposal of my assault CP, we could not get relevant photos, imagery, or joint data down to the soldier level in near-real time.  The opportunity to exploit intelligence to our advantage, to the advantage of the fire team in contact was lost.  

Empowerment of the Soldier on the ground is also crucial to realizing Army concepts of future warfare in complex terrain.  To fight in urban areas for example, our junior leaders require a high degree of specificity about the terrain and the enemy.  Today, we can't effectively push information down to help the squad leader fight.  Terrestrial based communications limit our warfighting ability under conditions imposed by complex terrain.  Yet full motion video (FMV) taken from a UAV pushed down to the battalion or company level would give the Soldier on the ground the ability to see the enemy from multiple viewpoints in relation to the individual enemy fighting positions.  With near-real time, satellite network connectivity, our junior leaders fighting in complex terrain can leverage the power of the network and enjoy increased situational awareness.  

In summary, Operation Iraqi Freedom proved the effectiveness and potential of networked enhanced warfare.  We know it works.  Applying lessons learned, we can rapidly improve our C4I capabilities by discarding technology and concepts that did not work and pursuing those that did.  The Battle Command on the Move concept works, but we need to build the Command Posts to support it.  Satellite based communication works; but we need more bandwidth to push the synergy of network enhanced operations down to the tactical level.  Once we overcome the "Digital Divide," when we can connect the synergy of network enhanced operations to the soldier in the dirt, we can be confident that we have done our very best to ensure his success on the modern battlefield.   

But please understand and always remember that regardless of the improvements we gain and the networks we build, warfare in the 21st Century will remain lethal, up close, and personal.  The American Soldier, supported by family and nation, will be our most treasured and lethal weapon.  His bravery, heroism, sacrifice and compassion will continue to be our inspiration.

House Armed Services Committee
2120 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515