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Chapter 2

Theater Composition

This chapter describes the current unified command structure, the operational chain of command, and the typical organizations and missions found at the theater level. Only by understanding who the supported customers are can signal support commanders and staffs properly plan for, prioritize, and allocate signal support. FM 100-16 and FM 100-20 provide in-depth coverage of the topics that are briefly covered in this chapter.


2-1. A theater may have many organizations deployed that are unified and consist of armed forces from two or more US services and supporting commands, interagency activities, and combined forces. They assist in planning and support of the unified operations to the CINC or his designated force commander. All efforts in the theater contribute to the CINC's intent and concept of operations. The NCA supports the combatant CINC by providing service component commands. The NCA directs other DOD agencies and CINCs to support the combatant CINC as necessary. This support comes in the form of funding, personnel, and equipment.

2-2. The ASCC commander is charged with Title 10 responsibility and provides the CINC with Army forces that are trained, equipped, and tailored into force packages that enable the CINC to accomplish his mission. The effective use of the nation's armed forces requires a unity of effort in the operation of diverse military resources. This goal is achieved--

  • Strategic direction of the armed forces.
  • Operation under unified commands.
  • Integration into an efficient team of land, sea, and air forces.
  • Prevention of unnecessary duplication of efforts or resources.
  • Coordination of operations.
  • Effective combined (United States and allied) operations.

2-3. A unified command contains two or more component services and is established by the President, through the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF), with the advice and assistance of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS). Figure 2-1 shows a generic theater operational organization.

Figure 2-1. Generic Theater Operational Organization

2-4. The CINC exercises combatant command through--

  • Service component commanders.
  • Functional component commanders.
  • Commander of a subordinate unified command.
  • Single service force commander.
  • Commander of a JTF.
  • Directly over specified operational forces.


2-5. Each CINC has a joint staff organization. The CINC organizes his joint staff to carry out the duties and responsibilities with which he is charged. Members of the joint staff ensure that the joint commander understands the tactics, techniques, capabilities, needs, and limitations of the component parts of the force. Figure 2-2 shows a generic joint staff.

Figure 2-2. Generic Joint Staff

2-6. For joint communications management, the combatant command or JTF J6 directorate or equivalent office is responsible for joint communication management. Joint communications management provides centralized control with decentralized execution. It exercises dynamic technical control over TCS and coordinates their interfaces with the Defense Information Systems Network (DISN) and other combatant commands' communications systems. The combatant command or JTF J6 directorate or equivalent office manages all joint communications (defined as circuits, systems, procedures, facilities, services, and equipment) that-

  • Support the CINC or JTF commander and his operations facilities.
  • Support other joint commands in the joint operations area (JOA).
  • Interface with the components of the joint commands.
  • Provide connectivity to the DISN, commercial communications systems, or allied communications systems.
  • Provide connectivity to the C4 systems of the other combatant commands.

2-7. To manage deployed tactical communications systems to support joint operations and exercises, the combatant command or JTF J6 directorate or equivalent office establishes a Joint Communication Control Center (JCCC). The ASCC and the TSC's designated signal elements deploy as part of the JTF. This provides the expertise and capability necessary to plan and manage the EAC functions for the JCCC. Service components and subordinate joint commanders must establish C4 control centers to serve as single points of responsibility for joint C4 matters. The JCCC exercises staff supervision over C4 control centers belonging to deployed components and subordinate commands.

2-8. Army, Air Force, Marine, and joint special operations task force (JSOTF) components communications control centers are normally referred to as systems control (SYSCON). The JSOTF uses a JCCC that is subordinate to the JTF JCCC. The Navy refers to this as the technical control (TECHCON). The JCCC organization is found in Chairman, Joint Chief of Staff Manual (CJCSM) 6231.01A.

2-9. As the JTF grows with the mission, so does the need for additional signal support. Signal support must me et the increasing demands of the JTF. This is also true for the service component. Usually, the JCCC tasks the TSC through the ASCC to plan, engineer, and manage connectivity to the JTF, JTF's higher headquarters, and lateral to the service components.


2-10. DISA plans, engineers, and manages communications and information processing systems that serve the federal government. The J6 must coordinate closely with DISA concerning the CINC's communications requirements to ensure that DISA can expand and reconfigure communications capabilities to meet the CINC's timetable. DISA provides personnel to the JCCC, as designated in the DISA's contingency plans.

2-11. DISA plans, engineers, and exercises operational direction and management control for the worldwide DISN. DISA employs communications resources at designated DISN entry stations and gateways to terminate long-haul tactical trunks and circuits from the JOA. DISA ensures that the required entry stations, gateways, and switching centers have the appropriate equipment and cryptographic devices to terminate tactical headquarters circuits deployed worldwide. This agency is also responsible for systems engineering and technical support of high-priority signal systems established for C2 of our military forces.

2-12. DISA manages the Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) through the US Army Space Command's Regional Space Support Center (RSSC) to meet the requirements established by the JCS and the SECDEF. The DISA RSSC is the systems' architect for all military satellite communications (SATCOM) systems.


2-13. The Army service component serves as the senior Army echelon in a theater and is the ASCC of a unified command. The USARCENT is an example of an ASCC. The ASCC includes the service component commander and all army personnel, organizations, units, and installations assigned to the unified command.

2-14. The Army's operational level organizations assist and augment tactical (corps and division) organizations. The CINC may designate an ARFOR commander as a subordinate JFC. The designation may be as a subunified commander, a JFLCC, or a commander of the JTF. Based on the ASCC structure, the Army JFC must reexamine the responsibilities and capabilities in order to perform the three tasks of the operational level commander.

2-15. Establishing a joint headquarters under these circumstances is a unique extension of the joint linkage task. Most US Army forces within the theater are placed under the command of the CINC and are operational control (OPCON) to ASCC commanders. Army organizations in the theater are flexible and vary from theater-to-theater based on the mission, enemy forces, unique geography, political environments, and the CINC's intent as outlined in his campaign plan.

2-16. The theater CINC assigns the ASCC's mission based on his selection of combatant command options, and may be a combination of logistical and operational missions, or exclusively logistical. Other levels of command assist in the performance of theater functions (subordinate logistical and/or operational echelons). Figure 2-3 shows a doctrinal ASCC Headquarters organization. Further information is found in FM 100-7.

Figure 2-3. Generic ASCC Headquarters

2-17. The theater signal officer (TSO) is dual-hatted as the TSC commander and the ASCC G6. A separate staff exists, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Information Management (DCSIM), at the ASCC Headquarters to perform operational planning functions and day-to-day signal support to the ASCC. The TSC provides the operational element for communications support in the theater. The DCSIM is composed of TSC personnel assigned to the G6 ASCC.


2-18. The ASCC, staff, and organizational structures provide for centralized planning and coordination. The structures also provide for decentralized execution by a combination of subordinate area-oriented and functional organizations (see Figure 2-4). The ASCC Headquarters manages CS and CSS operations by establishing broad plans and policies for guidance to MSCs.

Figure 2-4. Functional Organizations


2-19. The theater support command provides supply, maintenance, and services to the ASCC subordinate commands, corps, and units located in or passing through its support area.


2-20. The TRANSCOM provides Army transportation services to the theater. It provides support in the functional areas of staff assistance, mode operations, and terminal services.


2-21. The ENCOM provides general troop and contractual construction support, topographic support, and real property maintenance activity technical supervision or sustaining support to the area command. It also provides combat engineering to the corps on a tasked basis, as required.


2-22. The PERSCOM directs and coordinates personnel services, administrative management, and morale support activities. It also directs, coordinates, and provides postal services, enemy prisoner of war (POW) internment, and control and internment of US military prisoners to the theater when augmented with units.


2-23. The MEDCOM provides medical support within the communications zone (COMMZ). It also provides C2, staff planning, supervision of operations, medical supply control, training and administration of hospital centers, and medical groups engaged in COMMZ-level medical support.


2-24. The TFC provides policy and technical guidance for all finance and accounting activities in the theater currency. It is responsible for centralized support of theater currency funding, commercial accounting, foreign national pay, and appropriated and nonappropriated fund accounting. The TFC exercises OPCON over the area finance support centers when assigned.


2-25. The TSC provides communications support to the ASCC, ARFOR, and joint forces. The TSC also provides an integrated communications network that links out-of-theater communications systems to the theater. The integrated communications network also links each of the MSCs by interfacing to customer-provided voice, data, and video equipment.


2-26. The military intelligence brigade provides interrogation, controlled collections, counterintelligence, signal intelligence (SIGINT), imagery intelligence (IMINT), and all-source analysis.


2-27. The TAMMC is the nerve center of most supply and maintenance operations. It provides centralized management for the decentralized activities of the Theater Army Area Command (TAACOM). The TAMMC ensures visibility of critical items and balanced maintenance efforts and serves as the prime interface with the CONUS sustaining-base.


2-28. The TA DCofS operates the Theater Army Movement Control Agency (TAMCA) for logistics. It provides theater-wide movement management services in coordination with its allied and HN counterparts. This agency is the primary link between the theater and CONUS transportation agencies.


2-29. The CACOM provides staff support to a special operations command (SOC), other component services, and the joint theater staff as required, and commands attached to civil affairs units.


2-30. The AAMDC provides the Army's contribution to theater air missile defense in joint and multinational operations. The senior Army air defense commander provides the majority of Army rear area theater air defense and active missile defense forces.

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