The 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division has spent the past six years serving as the Army Experimental Task Force for the Brigade Modernization Command and the Army’s Capabilities and Integration Center. The Army established the brigade to evaluate the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Increment 2 and other Army modernization technologies and to develop tactics, techniques and procedures for their employment.
While the Iron Brigade has made great strides in developing expertise in integrating the network, it has been unable to make requisite progress in developing the entire Mission Command system, particularly the materiel aspects of the command post and a refinement to the doctrine that tactical echelons use to simultaneously command and control combined-arms maneuver and wide-area security in decisive action.
The fact that the Standard Integrated Command Post System (SICPS) is in sustainment phase has further exacerbated the materiel gap in capitalizing on the gains of uninterrupted Mission Command. Army Doctrine Reference Publication 6-0: Mission Command defines the Mission Command System as “the arrangement of personnel, networks, information systems, processes and procedures, and facilities and equipment” that supports the philosophy of Mission Command as well as the Mission Command warfighting function. The purpose of this article is to describe the Iron Brigade’s final assessment during Army Warfighting Assessment 17.1 and to offer potential tactics, techniques and procedures to improve expeditionary and uninterrupted Mission Command leveraging Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2 and mobile command post solutions.
Gaps in Mission Command System
In addition to addressing aging and static tent-based command post solutions, the Army must take another look at the codification of the doctrinal tactics, techniques and procedures for brigade and below command posts. Our current doctrine, Field Manual 3-96: Brigade Combat Team, dated October 2015, describes the six principles of Mission Command. It goes on to lay out Mission Command tasks and even provides duty descriptions for staff officers. What it does not contain are the scientific aspects of command and control at the brigade combat team or battalion level. The doctrine does not address the application of personnel staffs and networks to different echelons of command posts within a battalion or brigade. The Army had previous doctrine; notably, Field Manual 71-123: Tactics and Techniques for Combined Arms Heavy Forces: Armored Brigade, Battalion Task Force, and Company Team, dated September 1992. It clearly identifies the personnel, the network and multiple command post configurations from the initial SICPS methodology.
Vulnerable to Attack
A second gap in our Mission Command system is the command post materiel solution. Our command post structure is vulnerable to a variety of attacks and lacks mobility as well as survivability. Near-peer threats can detect and target Mission Command nodes due to their large signature. As a result, the operational force seeks to standardize command posts that are austere, mobile, expeditionary and, from an electromagnetic aspect, able to match the mobility and survivability with the subordinate maneuver forces they support. The physical and electromagnetic signature of large command posts present a significant opportunity for an opposing force to disrupt the brigade combat team’s initiative by employing effective combined-arms attacks that deplete the brigade combat team’s resources while hindering the staff’s ability to synchronize reconnaissance, fires and logistical support.
Multidomain battle further amplifies the brigade combat team command post problem as the joint force is contested in all domains (land, air, maritime, electromagnetic spectrum, space and cyberspace) where the U.S. once dominated. With modernized enemy integrated air-defense networks, the U.S. will no longer achieve theater air superiority while local or only temporary air superiority becomes the new norm. Our adversaries’ long-range surface-to-surface missile and fourth-generation strike-aircraft capabilities also will exploit our limited air-defense capacity and target large command posts with potentially overwhelming firepower.
A synchronized strike of this magnitude would decimate brigade combat team command post infrastructure within minutes and sever the brigade network’s main processing systems. By destroying this node, the enemy would severely reduce network bandwidth between surviving command posts while forcing units to synchronize fires and other enablers potentially under analog means after the loss of the higher headquarters’ communications node.
Acknowledging these unsettling realities, the brigade identified that its command post was vulnerable to precisely this type of coordinated attack in a decisive-action training-environment construct. The brigade command post consisted of 11 Air-Beam tents centering off one large tent with three 40-foot wings housing the brigade warfighting functions and command group. Setup and teardown times ranged between 10 to 20 hours, depending on soldiers’ training and experience level. The command post required extensive manpower and lift assets using numerous offloaded transit cases and up to 5,000 feet of Category 5 Ethernet cabling. This large and overly cumbersome command post consumed large quantities of resources and power generation that required a significant logistical tail. The sheer size of the command post presented clear confirmation to a reconnoitering enemy that it was either a brigade- or division-sized element. With an upcoming rotation at the National Training Center in fiscal 2017, the brigade decided to immediately reduce the command post footprint during Army Warfighting Assessment 17.1 in October 2016.
To combat the cumbersome and static command post structure, the brigade’s vision was to capitalize on the communications network by creating an uninterrupted Mission Command philosophy that enabled the brigade combat team to exercise Mission Command of the brigade across multiple locations, with built-in warfighting functions and leader redundancies capable of fusing intelligence and enabling subordinate units to simultaneously prosecute the hybrid enemy in the Decisive Action Training Environment. Achieving these distributed Mission Command tactics, techniques and procedures gives the commander “reach.” This interpretation of reach is defined as collaboration, shared situational understanding and effective relationships with key actors.
Reducing the Footprint
Leveraging upgraded vehicle capabilities developed during six years as the Army Experimental Task Force under the Network Integration Evaluations, the brigade developed a plan to replace tents with four M1087 expansible Light Medium Tactical Vehicles, two M1079 2.5-ton vans and two LMTV-linked Sesolinc containers. Facilitated by the Brigade Modernization Command, the brigade upgraded one LMTV housing 10 workstations with secure and non-secure internet protocol router/coalition enclaves, two built-in projectors, five mounted white boards, LED lighting and an improved Environmental Control Unit. The brigade also used two of the upgraded 2.5-ton vans converted into command post platforms that eliminated the four heavy trucks at the Army’s Capabilities and Integration Center command post platforms. These command post platform trucks are invaluable should a vehicle break down. The server stacks are easily removable while housed in transit cases. The opposite is true with the Army’s Capabilities and Integration Center’s solution as hard-mounted server-stack removal requires hours of tedious work while the network remains cold.
By employing three additional Light Medium Tactical Vehicles and two more vans, the brigade reduced the footprint to one 20-by-32-foot tent with accompanying vehicles. This vehicle-based command post housed the S2, S3, S4 and S6 sections as well as a Tactical Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility and mobile Brigade Intelligence Support Element. From this design, the brigade leveraged its WIN-T Increment 2 on-the-move capability employing two points of presence as an en-route command post.
Incorporating this mobile command post concept, the brigade developed an early-entry command post as well. After multiple command post jumps during assessment 17.1, the brigade decreased combat team jump times from 18 hours to under two hours near the end of the exercise.
Electromagnetic Emissions Lessened
To lessen electromagnetic emissions while further reducing the command post footprint, the brigade developed a concept that distributed the infrastructure geographically while still interconnected using modular communication systems. Advanced Medium Mobile Power Source 1 is analogous to a brigade combat team tactical operations center but robust in capability. Using vehicles to plug in and out of different tactical operations center configurations, the brigade created scalability that provided redundancy and depth in Mission Command and gave the commander options to choose the capabilities he wanted at each command post depending on the mission set. The brigade also increased survivability by distributing the footprint, using hardened vehicles and lowering the electromagnetic frequency signature in any one location. This command post design complicated the enemy’s reconnaissance efforts as the communication nodes broadcast battalion-size elements.
Reducing the footprint forced the brigade staff to eliminate redundant command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems and computer-screen clutter. Shrinking seat capacity also placed more personnel on security, facilitating insurgent ground-attack deterrence. The brigade also eliminated numerous sleep tents while dispersing the engineer and fires battalions, further distributing the brigade’s modular communications nodes. The brigade also eliminated boot tents connecting the vehicles to the tents to further reduce setup times. Using a fold-out awning attached to the vehicle platform is an alternative boot option that the British Army uses and can be set up in less than two minutes.
The Iron Brigade used a variety of platforms to achieve this. The vehicle upgrades were conducted by a contracted design-and-engineering company or by unit personnel using military work orders. The Environmental Control Unit upgrade is the most critical, however. The standard Environmental Control Unit is too loud and hinders verbal communication, forcing staff to either turn it off during meetings, producing an uncomfortably hot environment, or shouting when the unit is on. Additionally, the brigade combat team used a container-based system for our command post platforms and for the build of the alternate command post. These recent restorations have led to a Defense Logistics Agency Class IX parts-kit solution that can be procured or modernized in Army systems through Global Combat Support System-Army.
Further command post footprint-reduction measures and time savings include intelligent power generation/distribution, transport convergence via Modular Communications Node-Advanced Enclave, and wireless command post capability. Increasing power-generation efficiencies while reducing generator clutter further reduced the command post footprint and gave time back to NCOs and mechanics. The brigade used the Advanced Medium Mobile Power Source microgrid during Network Integration Evaluations 16.1 and 16.2 and decreased the command post generator count from 14 to four 60-kilowatt generators running in parallel using intelligent power distribution. The entire power-generation package fits on a C-17 pallet.
Additionally, the Modular Communications Node-Advanced Enclave performed well during Network Integration Evaluation 16.2 and replaced the bulky TROJAN system’s two Humvees and trailers with two Pelican cases. This system linked into the WIN-T Increment 2’s Tactical Communications Node for network access while showing no visible degradation in bandwidth capacity. These complementary command post systems provide additional footprint reduction options to brigade combat teams working to shrink their command posts.
This vehicle-based configuration is a logical and cost-effective solution to produce a scalable, survivable and expeditionary brigade combat team command post designed to fight and win in a decisive-action environment. This command post configuration does not require an Army acquisitions system development and fielding cycle as the material solution exists in our inventory.
Multidomain battle poses a significant problem to a large, stationary tactical operations center indicative of the current Army’s Capabilities and Integration Center brigade combat team command post solution requiring changes to Modular Communication Node design and configuration. Countering this requires command post mobility, scalability and survivability that is achievable with the proposed command post design described herein.
Brigade combat teams should not wait years for a future Army-approved brigade combat team command post solution and subsequent fielding with a “fight tonight” readiness goal. We recommend consideration to implement this actionable command post concept for all brigade combat teams as an interim solution while the Army develops a long-term solution commensurate with Command Post 2025 Concept of Operations principles.