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Marine Automated Command And Control Systems: Lifting The Fog Of War
CSC 1993
                        EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Title:  Marine Automated Command and Control Systems:
        Lifting the Fog of War
Author: Major Kevin M. Leahy, United States Marine Corps
Thesis: The Marine Corps is well on its way to tactical computer
system compatibility in the 21st Century.  The Marine Tactical
Command and Control System (MTACCS) provides us a conceptually
solid baseline for greater USMC and inter-Service inter-
operability in future.
Background:  In a recently released document, "C4I for the
Warrior," the Joint Staff proposes a far-sighted plan to support
the Joint Task Force Commander with a seamless, secure,
interoperable global network by the year 2010.  This global C4I
network will provide the battlefield commander with access to all
the information he needs when, where and how he wants it.  The
Marine Corps, under the MTACCS umbrella, has fielded a number of
integrated C2 systems which support the MAGTF commander fairly
well.  The future promises even greater interoperability and
utility to the commander.  Continued adherence to USMC, joint,
and commercial interoperability standards will guarantee that
future MAGTF commanders are full players in the high-tech world
envisioned in "C4I for the Warrior."
Recommendation:  The Marine Corps should continue to develop and
field interoperable C4I systems to support the MAGTF commander.
Thesis: The Marine Corps is well on its way to tactical computer
system compatibility in the 21st Century.  The Marine Tactical
Command and Control System (MTACCS) provides us a conceptually
solid baseline for greater USMC and inter-Service inter-
operability in future.
          I.      INTRODUCTION
          II.     THE REQUIREMENT:  Focus on the Commander
                  A.  Nature of the Battlespace
                  B.  Rapid Decision-making
                  C.  MAGTF Commander's C2 Tools
          III.    WHERE WE ARE: C4I Systems in 1993
                  A.  MTACCS
                       1.   Battlefield Functional Areas
                       2.   MTACCS Interoperability
                  B.  No Integrating Mechanism
                  C.  Communications
                       1.   Ashore
                       2.   Afloat
                  C4I Systems in 2000
                  A.  Joint Interoperability Standards
                  B.  Mid-term Solutions
                      1.   Quick Fix
                      2.   Modular Software Building Blocks
                  C.  Marine Common Application Support Sortware
                  D.  Systems Integration Environment
                  E.  Communications
                      1.   Ashore
                      2.   Afloat
               C4I Systems After 2000
                  A.  Great Technological Advances
                  B.  Standards Compliance
                      1.   Military
                      2.   Commercial
                  C.  The Infosphere
          VI.  CONCLUSION
         Marine Automated Command and Control System:
                     Lifting the Fog of War
                There is nothing more frightening
                Than ignorance in action.
                                         - Goethe
     Not knowing what is happening in his battlespace, being
blind to the tactical and operational situation, and being unable
to communicate his orders and intent is the worst nightmare of
any battlefield commander.  Frightening because the commander
knows he is acting out of ignorance, precisely what Goethe warned
     In recent decades, the American military has taken great
strides to use modern computers to assist the commander with his
command and control (C2) functions.   Automating certain C2
functions is one way that we exploited America's advantage in
computer technologies.  And the trend is for even greater
automation in future.   Acknowledging this trend, we use the term
"C4I," for command, control, communications, computers, and
intelligence, to capture the broader scope that we normally
attach to C2 and their supporting functions.
     A new Joint Staff publication, C4I for the Warrior,
describes the joint commander's battlefield information needs and
contains a roadmap to achieve a "...seamless, secure,
interoperable global C4I network..." which provides the
battlefield commander access to all the information he needs
when, where and how he wants it. (4:3)
     Marine C2 planners today are challenged to assess the
commander's current and planned C4I capabilities and to ensure
that they encompass the Joint Staff's new C4I vision, in the
near-, mid- and long-term.  This paper discusses this challenge,
starting with the basics by briefly describing the operational C2
functions that our computer systems are being designed to
automate.  We then describe the current status of the USMC
automated C4I systems and discuss possible migration paths to the
joint concept envisioned in C4I for the Warrior.
                        THE REQUIREMENT:
                     Focus on the Commander
	The focus of all Marine C2 is the Marine Air-Ground Task
Force (MAGTF) commander.  The MAGTF commander--the warrior--must
be able to:
     *  see and understand his present state;
     *  establish a vision of a future end state;
     *  articulate a unifying concept of operation; and
     *  invoke force of will to move his forces.
He does this to concentrate decisive combat power at the time and
place it is required while caring for and protecting his own
forces.  And he does so under conditions that are hostile,
confusing, stressful, dynamic, and lethal. (1:1-2)
     The MAGTF commander must decide upon those items of
information critical to victory, and use this information to
determine the enemy's critical vulnerability.  He then decides
how to shape the battle to expose those enemy weaknesses. (8:2-4)
The MAGTF commander's C4I system must support all aspects of the
command and control challenges listed above.  It must allow him
to peer through the fog of war, making and disseminating his
decisions rapidly.  Operational tempo on the modern battlefield
is increasing.  As FMFM 3 states:
     More than ever before, a command and control system
     must support shorter decision cycles and instantaneous
     flexibility across vast distances of time and space.
     ...The measure of command and control effectiveness is
     simple:  either our command and control works faster
     that the enemy's decision-execution cycle or the enemy
     will own our command and control. (8:2)
The commander's C2 support system incorporates a number of tools
to help him achieve and maintain critical operational speed:
     *  Trained and experienced subordinate leaders;
     *  Well-defined doctrine;
     *  Clear and understood chain of command;
     *  Reliable communications; and
     *  Fused and relevant information systems.
All of these tools are important to battlefield success, and the
Marine Corps must continue to refine each of them.  But let's
focus on the last two instruments--information and the means of
transporting that information into and around the battlefield.
In the remainder of this paper, we will answer the following:
     *  What tools does the MAGTF commander have now (1993)?
     *  What tools will he have in the mid-term (1993-2000)?
     *  What tools can he expect in the long term (2000+)?
                          WHERE WE ARE:
                       C4I Systems in 1993 
     The Marine Corps implemented a number of automated tactical
data systems that provide the MAGTF commander limited support in
every battlefield functional area (BFA).  Our fielded systems are
most useful to the staff section or major subordinate command
with the preponderance of responsibility for that BFA.  For
example, the artillery regiment's commander is served well by his
fire support software, as is the S/G-1 by his personnel support
system.  Unfortunately, the MAGTF commander has access to these
systems only indirectly through these staff officers and his
subordinate commanders.  The focus is not on the MAGTF commander.
He has no automated means of directly extracting information from
these systems.
     That is not to say that fielding the current inventory of
automated BFA support systems has not been successful.  In fact,
MAGTF commanders in 1993 owe a debt to the far-sighted Marine C2
planners of the mid-1960s who first conceived of the Marine
Tactical Command and Control System (MTACCS).
     The requirement for the MTACCS system was identified in
early 1967. (14:1-2)  MTACCS was then envisioned as the
integration of separate automation-assisted MAGTF C2 component
systems supporting tactical operations.  Each BFA--fire support,
logistics, air command and control, personnel, etc.--was to be
supported with a separate subsystem, with data from these sub-
systems fully integrated for the commander's use. (13:1)  In the
MTACCS schema, data compatibility or interoperability among the
subsystems was a primary goal, and is defined as:
     interoperability - 1.  The ability of systems, units or
     forces to provide services to and accept services from
     other systems, units or forces and to use the services
     so exchanged to enable them to operate effectively
     together.  2.  The condition achieved among
     communications-electronics systems or items of
     communications-electronics equipment when information
     or services can be exchanged directly and
     satisfactorily between them and/or their users.  The
     degree of interoperability should be defined when
     referring to specific cases. (JCS Pub 1)
This interoperability was to be achieved through adherence to the
standards and protocols outlined in the Tactical Interface Design
Plan (TIDP).
     Today the MAGTF commander enjoys the services of many of the
component subsystems developed under the MTACCS umbrella.  (See
Table 1 for these subsystems).  For example, the Marine Corps Air
Command and Control System (MACCS) is a mature, well-developed
system supporting the MAGTF commander through his Air Combat
Element (ACE) commander.  So too, the Marine Air Ground
Intelligence System (MAGIS) supports the G/S-2 who, in turn,
supports the commander.  The MAGTF commander is supported through
his staffs and subordinate commanders across all BFAs with
generally solid, functional automated C2 component systems.
Click here to view image
	Yet in 1993 the MAGTF commander lacks the automated means
for receiving, fusing, displaying and disseminating the selective
input from the component systems.  He needs greater flexibility
than the "stovepipe," hierarchical component systems can provide.
He needs an integrating mechanism to make the flood of
information pouring into the command post (CP) more useful to
him.  (See Figure 1).  He is inundated with more information, in
more formats, on diverse displays, and in more locations than he
can effectively absorb. (4:10)
Click here to view image
     Why this integrating mechanism is not already available is
due to a variety of historic institutional, programmatic,
budgetary, and technical reasons. (16:61)  The effect, though, is
that the commander is not directly supported by his automated
C4I2 systems with information tailored for his use.  He could be
better served (and will be in future) by a better-integrated
     In the communications, or data transport arena, the Marine
Corp's current digital data communications architecture consists
of a mix of commercial and tactical computers operating in
conjunction with a Banyan local area network (LAN).  However,
there are significant shortfalls in the data transport
capability.  A recent communications study estimated the near-
term bandwidth shortfall for external connectivity to a Marine
Expeditionary Force (MEF) to be 3.37 megabit/second, or the
equivalent of 157 medium-speed modem links.  In short, it is a
daunting deficiency. (20:16)
     In the field and on ship, Marines are now using any
available means to overcome this bandwidth shortfall.  Their
innovative work-arounds run the gamut from higher-speed modems
connecting widely distributed LAN servers, to human couriers
physically transporting data disks from site to site. (20:5)  The
data gets passed, but not as efficiently as most communications
officers or their commanders would like.
     And in fairness, today's data communications deficiencies
are not unique to Marines.  In reflecting on the Gulf War, Mr.
Richard Howe, the Department of Defense's (DOD) current director
of theater and tactical command, control and communications
     Throughout the Gulf War, C4I2 network flow was a
     constant concern.  Things got so bad at one point in
     mid-1991 that the data networks were overwhelmed.
     ...The problem, say communication officials, is that no
     matter how big your C4I2 pipelines are, they're not big
     enough.  The demand for capacity from users is
     insatiable. (11:21)
Managing the "insatiable" demand for data paths is, and will
continue to be, a challenge to Marine communication officers in
the near future.
     While aboard amphibious shipping, communications is even
more problematic.  The data link problems mentioned above that
face land-based Marine warriors are amplified as the MAGTF
commander, as Commander of the Landing Force (CLF), attempts to
merge his C2 operations with that of the Commander, Amphibious
Task Force (CATF).  This is a critical problem, and one that is
being aggressively attacked by the Navy-Marine communications
                       C4I System in 2000
     By the end of the decade, the Marine Corps and DOD will have
developed and mandated a collection of Joint Interoperability
Standards for all tactical and administrative data systems to
address the incompatibility problems that we have now in 1993.
The reasons are obvious:
     *  non-interoperable systems waste money; and
     *  non-interoperable systems jeopardize Service components'
contributions to joint warfare. (12:36)
     The Joint Staff's C4I for the Warrior mid-term solution
calls for a two-stage move to interoperability by 2000.  The
first stage uses a quick fix method and the second phase employs
a modular building block approach to software development.
     The quick fix is intended for stovepipe subsystems that are
now functional to commanders but are not planned to undergo a
major software revision.
     Quick fixes include the installation of translation
     devices that interpret nonstandard message and data
     formats and protocols and produce common outputs that
     can be readily exchanged via standard transmission
     paths. (4:14-15)
The quick fix is a relatively easy enterprise for software and
hardware engineers.  But its value is limited insofar as it
requires an additional device interface and consumes processing
power to effect the protocol translation.
     The second stage of interoperability improvement described
in C4I for the Warrior calls for the development of standardized
modular building blocks to be incorporated into all new software
products and those undergoing substantial revision.  This
building block approach is very effective.  Seeing the value of
this approach, the Services have been incorporating similar
modular or layered techniques to software development since the
mid-1980s.  The Marine Corps' contribution has been the on-going
development of the Marine Common Application Support Software
     Conceptually, MCASS is a library of software routines
performing functions (database queries, graphics creation,
network access, etc.)  which are common to all battlefield
applications, and which can be incorporated in numerous software
products.  For example, there is no fundamental difference in the
way that the Tactical Air Operations Module (TAOM) programmer
enters air "tracks" into a database and the way a Position
Location and Reporting System (PLRS) programmer enters position
location data into the PLRS database.  The function is the same,
and if standardized, would significantly save programming effort
and increase software quality.  Once developed, the MCASS
libraries will be part of a standardized software toolkit
available to applications programmers regardless of the hardware
and operating system that any particular application runs on.
Continuing the MCASS development, therefore, is consistent with
the overarching DOD approach, and will yield future application
interoperability and standardization.
     Yet another USMC interoperability initiative which will bear
fruit by the year 2000 is MARCORSYSCOM's plan to establish a
Systems Integration Environment (SIE).  The SIE is planned as a
controlled environment for the assessment of new C2 hardware or
software products. (13:1-6)  The SIE will mirror the C4I
configuration of a MAGTF operating either alone, or as part of a
Joint Task Force.  It will present a common "gate" through which
all FMF-bound data systems can be funneled and their
interoperability evaluated.  The SIE will give the USMC the
capability to:
     *  Assess and improve the interfaces, interactions, and
     interoperability among task force C4I systems;
     *  Evaluate proposed C4I system modifications, enhancements
     and design refinements from a performance, interoperability
     and user acceptance viewpoint;
     *  Assess proper implementations of standards, protocols,
     and interfaces by C4Isystems; and
     *  Support operational testing and evaluation by the Marine
     Corps Operational Test and Evaluation Activity (MCOTEA).
Access to the SIE -- a MAGTF CP in a laboratory -- will be
invaluable to the programmers and product managers trying to
evaluate the operation of new and modified software and
equipment.  It will protect the Fleet Marine Force (FMF) users
from interoperability problems which otherwise might escape
detection.  Better quality, more interoperable systems will
     Data communications afloat will also have improved greatly
by the year 2000.  Embarked MAGTF commanders will have access,
through the MTACCS, to the Navy Tactical Command System-Afloat
(NTCS-A).  A component of the far-sighted Navy COPERNICUS
project, NTCS-A will provide sailors and embarked Marines
integrated, real-time battlespace data.  It will provide
connectivity to all shipboard communications including all
tactical data links (TADILS), satellite communications and inter-
ship fleet broadcasts.  By 1996, NTCS-A will be placed on all
major vessels, including the larger amphibious ships (LHDs, LHAs
and possibly LCCs).(15:4)  Integrating MTACCS and NTCS-A will
allow for more rapid amphibious planning.  It will also provide
the robust C4I2 support required if the embarked MAGTF commander
is named commander of a Joint Task Force for an operation.
     The Marine Corps is right in step with the Joint Staff's
C4I2 improvement plan for the mid-term.  Although the
technicalities of these improvements will be transparent to the
MAGTF commander, he will clearly see the benefits.  By the turn
of the century he will enjoy more coherent information from all
of his automated battlefield systems displayed in a more easily
understood manner.
                     C4I System After 2000
     It is not until after the turn of the century that we will
fully realize the vision contained in C4I for the Warrior.  The
document anticipates great technological advances, particularly
in the following areas: (4:15)
     * powerful artificial intelligence tools;
     * standardized multilevel security techniques;
     * standardized data compression and data fusion tools; and
     * standardized common operating and interface environments.
Each of these advancements will multiply the value of C4I systems
to the battlefield commander and concurrently decrease the cost
of the military systems investment.  At this point it is
impossible to predict how these advancing technologies will be
embodied in specific products.  But it is clear that remarkable,
if not revolutionary, advancements will be made in each of those
     Military designers will be working closely with industry
sources to ensure that commercial interoperability standards are
incorporated into all C4I projects.  Moreover, military planners
will be active with standards-making bodies such as the
International Standards Institute (ISO), the Consultative
Committee on International Telegraphy and Telephony (CCITT) and
the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to see that the
interests of the military are represented when standards are set.
(17:86)  The value of commercial interoperability standards to
the military cannot be overstated.
     But what could this mean to the MAGTF commander?  How will
he get the information needed be better able to see and shape the
battlespace?  As envisioned in C4I for the Warrior, all warriors
will access secure, robust multimedia networks linking local,
theater, and national information sources.  Military systems,
regardless of Service origin, will be interoperable, sharing data
over an vast array of communication paths.  These paths, (having
been designed around industry data transmission standards), will
incorporate the most efficient mix of military and commercial
data transport facilities.  In the Joint Staff's vision, this
network of interconnected communications links is referred to as
the infosphere, "the total combination of information sources,
fusion centers, and distribution systems that represent the C4I
resources a warfighter needs to pursue his operational
objectives."(4:4)  Future MAGTF commanders will be best served by
having his MTACCS evolve, in conjunction with the Navy's NTCS-A,
to be fully integrated components of this joint infosphere.
     C4I for the Warrior sets forth a bold proposal for future
command and control support for the American warrior.  A roadmap
for the joint communications and data interoperability, it should
be embraced by all DOD C4I2 planners.  In addition, Marine
planners should continue to support the far-sighted MTACCS
concept and Marine communications improvement programs which will
ensure that future MAGTF commanders will remain full player in
the rapidly-progressing joint C4I2 arena.  The Marines are on the
right track, let's keep it that way!
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     given at the Battle Command Battle Laboratory Senior Officer
     Review, 17 February 1993.
2.   Boros, LtCol. Louis L., USMC, "Automated Command and Control
     for the MAGTF:  Can it Be Done?" Marine Corps Gazette,
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3.   Brewin, Bob, "DISA Launches Global Defense Mega-Network,"
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     National Defense University Press, Washington, D.C., 1992.
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     States Marine Corps, February 93.
9.   FY 1994 Budget Adjustments, Secretary of the Navy Memorandum
     of 8 February 93.
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     Pentagon, November 91: 36.
13.  Letter of Instruction for the Implementation of the Systems
     Integration Environment, MARCORSYSCOM letter 3900 C2O of 28
     October 1992, enclosure 1.
14.  Marine Corps General Operational Requirement (GOR No. CC-9),
     Marine Tactical Command and Control System, Headquarters,
     United States Marine Corps, 1967.
15.  MARCORSYSCOM MAGIS Project Officer Memorandum of 7 October
     92, subject "NTCS-A".
16.  Mazzara, LtCol. Andrew F., USMC, "Out of the Fog,"
     Proceedings, February 93: 59.
17.  Meyer, John J., Col., USA, "JTF Communications:  The Way
     Ahead," Military Review, March 93:  85.
18.  Mundy, General Carl E., "Naval Expeditionary Forces:
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19.  Roos, John G., "Joint Task Forces:  Mix 'n' Match Solutions
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     Corps Combat Development Command, February 93.
21.  Vermillion, LtCol. Terry L., USMC, "JOPES Version 4.0:  A
     Revolution in Real Time," Marine Corps Gazette, April 92:

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