Military


Maneuver Control System (MCS)

The Maneuver Control System (MCS) is an integrated architecture of hardware, software, Standardized Integrated Command Post System (SICPS), personnel and procedures. The MCS is designed as a set of tailorable applications that "sit" on top of the Defense Information Infrastructure Common Operating Environment (DII COE) which contains Government-Off-The-Shelf (GOTS) and Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) technology. It will also contain features and tools which will allow addition of specific Staff-Officer oriented applications; e.g., Operations Order (OPORD) and Maps and Overlays module.

MCS will provide the battlefield commander with a Common Tactical Picture (CTP). The CTP displays a relevant view of the battlefield. The goal is to establish a baseline level of capability to arm the commander and to enable his force to be more lethal and survivable on the battlefield. MCS will primarily do this by providing the planning and executing functions and the integrating capability previously unavailable in an integrated manner. As an example, MCS-Light (MCS-L) provides Corps through Battalion force level commmanders and staffs the ability to collect, coordinate, and act on near real time battlefield information and to graphically visualize the battlefield. The MCS-L Plan Manager tool supports the creation and distribution of Plans. This tool provides Microsoft (MS) Word templates for creating the plan, and MS Excel template for creating the Sychronization Matrix as well as support for managing the task organization and overlays associated with the plan.

MCS Block IV

External Interfaces

  • Provides acces to other Battlefield Functional Area (BFA) information using database information exchange.
  • Provides information to other applications to produce reports and map displays.
  • Integrates products into the CP, MO and PL applications

Maps and Overlays

  • Provides similar functionality resident in MCS Block III, but uses Joint Mapping Toolkit (JMTK) vs. TEM.
  • Fulfills the mapping needs of planning and common picture applications.
  • Supports FM 25-25A map symbology
  • Map is integrated with OPLAN/OPORD and execution matrix for alerts and system executions.

Planning

  • Provides a graphic/tabular view of unit orgainzation.
  • Provides modification of unit command relationships and task organizations.
  • Enables a link to Annex A to OPORD.
  • Contains capability to transfer UTO to other MCS.

Acquisition Strategy

The MCS acquisition strategy is based on modular development of application software, integrated with the common system software, hosted on the ruggedized commerical off-the-shelf Common Hardware/Software (CHS) computers and peripheral hardware that are procured under the Army CHS ordering contract. Software will be developed, tested, integrated and trained as necessary to meet warfighter tactical and training requirements. Upon completion of the base capability that is to be fielded, development will continue for Joint Interoperability, Common Operation Environment and Safety requirements as necessary to continue the life of the software in the field. A competitive follow-on contract is planned for the continued development of these type requirements.

Previous Information

The Army is developing and fielding a system for use by commanders and staffs of tactical maneuver units, using a blocked approach. Block II—using Version 10 software running on NDI hardware—is currently fielded to all heavy corps and divisions except the 3rd Mechanized Division. The software for Block III is titled MCS/PHOENIX (MCS/P), since functionality from an experimental program named PHOENIX is being merged into the MCS Version 12.01, the software version currently under development. Block III software will be tested and fielded on Common Hardware and Software (CHS)-2 in FY1996-97. Block IV software will be developed and delivered under a 5-year contract scheduled for award in FY1996. A change to the system name is currently under consideration to reflect recent evolutionary changes in battle command philosophy.

The MCS Block III initiated, and the current Block IV increases, the integration between the ABCS components: All Source Analysis System; Forward Area Air Defense C3I System; Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System; Combat Service Support Control System; and Force XXI Battle Command, Brigade and Below. MCS Block V development began in FY03. Block V shifts development away from the Unix-based MCS workstation environment to a Microsoft Windows-based laptop.

MCS/P will distribute tactical information on the battlefield, allowing a commander to readily access and display current situation reports, intelligence, and contact reports that assess enemy strength and movement, as well as the status of friendly forces.

Through MCS/P, the commander can transmit critical battlefield information such as mission information; courses of action; schemes of maneuver; warning and operations orders; changes in priorities; and intelligence, fire support, supply status, and air operations requests. MCS/P assists the commander in applying combat power at the appropriate time and place in response to changing battlefield dynamics. In addition, it allows the commander sufficient flexibility to act preemptively to developing situations.

MCS/P databases maintain and display critical situation awareness information on friendly and enemy forces in both text and graphic formats, using data obtained from MCS/P and other BFACS. Using MCS/P decision support graphics—which include map overlays and battle resources by unit—possible courses of action are analyzed, the appropriate course of action is determined, and MCS/P is used to prepare and send warning orders, operations orders, and related annexes.

Exchange of information using MCS/P gives all command posts from battalion through corps the same common picture of the battlespace. Commanders can make decisions that mesh with the decisions and capabilities of other commanders in the network. With the ability to query both local and remote databases, MCS/P also assists in synchronizing the battle.

The MCS/P effort involves the transition of PHOENIX application software modules from the PHOENIX ACT II project into the MCS/P system in preparation for the TF XXI AWE. The procedure for transitioning PHOENIX application software modules is a three-phase process:

  • Phase I consisted of an architecture evaluation and the porting of relevant application modules to HP UNIX to produce lessons learned.
  • Phase II consisted of an operational evaluation of PHOENIX functionality with respect to user requirements during Prairie Warrior 95.
  • Phase III involves the migration of PHOENIX software modules to COE-compliance.
  • Non-compliant but essential PHOENIX application software modules will be incorporated as evolutionary insertions as they become COE-compliant. Application modules having common functionality within MCS Version 12 and PHOENIX will be consolidated into the MCS/P system. The unified MCS/P functionality will be exercised at Prairie Warrior 96, in a follow-on IOTE, and during the Force XXI AWEs.

    The Army conducted the MCS Block III IOT&E in June 1998. DOT&E concluded that MCS Block III was neither operationally effective nor operationally suitable. The Army subsequently restructured the MCS program, did not field the Block III, and designated the Block IV as the version planned for testing in IOT&E to support the full-rate production decision. In 2002, the Army reviewed the operational requirements for all of the ABCS components to better support the Army transformation to the objective force and the Future Combat System. The resulting requirements support the MCS Block IV testing and the planning for development of future MCS versions.

    A test unit, the 4th Infantry Division, deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom with its full complement of MCS systems and digital tactical operations centers. However, as of yet no information has been made available to DOT&E as to how these systems are performing in support of current operations.

    The May 2003 customer test successfully demonstrated correction of several software discrepancy reports. However, due to test limitations, several software discrepancy reports remain open. System maturity continues to improve and the MCS individual workstation functions were stable during the test. However, the network and database functions and procedures that integrate MCS and the Army Battle Command Systems into a digital command and control system remain problematic and fragile.

    The Army and DOT&E are working to find acceptable alternative venues, such as warfighter exercises, to accomplish an IOT&E in support of a full-rate production decision as soon as possible.

    This program funds the development, integration and testing of the Maneuver Control System (MCS) to include injectors for Joint Tactical COP Workstation (JTCW) and Command Post of the Future (CPOF). Project satisfies an urgent need for the efficient command and control (C2) of tactical operations on the battlefield. MCS is the Army's tactical C2 system used in command posts from corps to battalion to provide automated C2 for the commander and staff at and between echelons (i.e., Force Level Control). MCS is an essential component of the Army Battle Command System (ABCS) and provides critical coordination among Battlefield Functional Areas (BFAs) within each echelon.

    The primary component of Force Level Control is MCS's provision of the Common Operational Picture (COP). The COP depicts information provided by all the BFAs and includes a Situation Map (SITMAP) using Defense Mapping Agency data to display friendly and enemy unit locations, control measures (e.g., boundaries, phase lines, etc.), Intelligence and Electronic Warfare graphics, Fire Support plans, combat service support location information, air corridors and air defense weapons control information.

    MCS software is based on the Defense Information Infrastructure(DII) Common Operating Environment (COE) standard architecture with applications to automate C2 operations. The MCS software uses the Joint Mapping Tool Kit (JMTK), a Defense Information Infrastructure Common Operating Environment (DII COE) product, for terrain analysis, planning and SITMAP graphical displays. The Task Organization (TO) tool provides the commander and staff a means of organizing (graphically and textually) tactical Army units. Unit commanders and their staffs can quickly and efficiently prepare and disseminate combat orders with MCS's automated Operations Order (OPORD) generating tool. MCS report displays provide resource information roll-ups on all battlefield units. MCS supports battlefield situation displays for all ABCS BFAs. MCS provides the Global Command and Control System - Army (GCCS-A) the Army "ground track" segment of the joint tactical common picture.

    The MCS acquisition strategy is based on modular development of application software, integrated with the common system software, hosted on the ruggedized commercial off-the-shelf Common Hardware/ Software (CHS) computers and peripheral hardware that are procured under the Army CHS ordering contract. Software will be developed, tested, integrated and trained as necessary to meet warfighter tactical and training requirements. Upon completion of the base capability that is to be fielded, development will continue for Joint Interoperability, Common Operating Environment and Safety requirements as necessary to continue the life of the software in the field. Priced options on the MCS Software Development contract will be exercised for JTCW development. Fielding of the JTCW will begin upon obtaining Materiel Release planned for 1QFY7.




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