UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!

Military





SINCGARS Needs Maneuver Communications

SINCGARS Needs Maneuver Communications

 

AUTHOR Major Robert R. Logan, USMC

 

CSC 1991

 

SUBJECT AREA - C4

 

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

TITLE: SINCGARS NEEDS MANEUVER COMMUNICATIONS

 

I. Theme: The Marine Corps is rapidly entering a period of transition in both its

philosophy of warfare and the equipment with which it fights. Nowhere is this more

prevalent than with tactical communications. In this particular area, however, a unique

"window of opportunity" exists for an important, if not mandatory, application of new

communications concepts to the implementation of pivotal communications systems for

Marine commanders.

 

II. Thesis: Apart from the rapid application of precepts for communications derived

from FMFM 1, the doctrinal standard of Marine Corps maneuver warfare, the benefits

to the commander from new "Digital Revolution" communications systems presently

being fielded, particularly the Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System

(SINCGARS), will be endangered if not lost entirely.

 

III. Discussion: FMFM 1 presents a philosophy of warfare based on maneuver vice the

former standard of attrition. This departure from a previous "winning" style is based on

the sobering reality that the United States military, particularly the Marine Corps, no

longer enjoys numerical and technological superiority when it fights. Accompanying this

new style of warfare is a new style of command and new precepts for communications

supporting commanders. These precepts represent a set of standards by which newly

fielded digital-based communications systems must be evaluated and employed. This is

especially true of the next generation of tactical radio systems, SINCGARS, which

perform differently under the environments of maneuver and attrition warfare.

 

IV. Summary: As a representative of the "Digital Revolution" ongoing in Marine Corps

communications, SINCGARS requires an environment of maneuver warfare in order to

best support the commander. The precepts of maneuver communications as derived

from FMFM 1 must be inculcated within the Marine Corps to ensure this important

system is correctly assessed and quickly assimilated into the infrastructure of command

and control.

 

V. Conclusion: Maneuver commanders have the opportunity of enjoying a level of

support from SINCGARS which has no historical match. However, the success of this

team demands commanders still operating under the philosophy of attrition warfare to

immediately make the transition to FMFM 1 and its precepts of maneuver

communications.


 

 

SINCGARS NEEDS MANEUVER COMMUNICATIONS

 

OUTLINE

 

 

Thesis Statement. Apart from the rapid application of precepts for communications

derived from FMFM 1, the doctrinal standard of Marine Corps maneuver warfare, the

benefits to the commander from new "Digital Revolution" communications systems

presently being fielded, particularly the Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio

System (SINCGARS), will be endangered if not lost entirely.

 

I. FMFM 1 and Marine Communications

 

A. The Dragon "Never Enough" is Dead

 

B. Warfare, the World, and the Need for a Change

 

C. A Look Back at Attrition Warfare

 

II. The Philosophy of Maneuver Warfare

 

A. Concepts Affecting Communications

 

1. Acceptance Vice Rejection of Chaos

 

2. Decentralized Vice Centralized Control

 

3. Implicit Vice Explicit Communications

 

4. Speed Vice Plodding

 

B. Precepts For Maneuver Communications Summarized

 

III. SINCGARS and the Precepts for Maneuver Communications

 

A. The "Digital Revolution" of Marine Communications

 

B. SINCGARS Description

 

C. Application of Precepts to SINCGARS

 

1. Quality over Quantity

 

2. Why over How

 

3. Voice over Message

 

4. Availability over Velocity


 

 

 

SINCGARS NEEDS MANEUVER COMMUNICATIONS

 

 

The sixth of March, 1989, is destined to become a hallowed occasion for Marine

 

communicators throughout the Corps. It marks the date on which General A.M. Gray,

 

Commandant of the Marine Corps, officially declared his philosophy of warfare as the

 

Marine Corps' own. FMFM 1, Warfighting, was born.

 

Those familiar with FMFM 1 may wonder why it holds such significance for

 

communicators. After all, doesn't FMFM 1 contain truths about the maneuver

 

philosophy of warfare, a dogma primarily for combat arms personnel? Though correct,

 

this observation fails to recognize the impact which the adoption of maneuver warfare

 

has on other military specialties, primarily communicators. For them, one message from

 

FMFM 1 comes through loud and clear: the great dragon called "Never Enough" is dead

 

at last.

 

Communicators have been fighting the battle against "Never Enough" since the

 

first commander lost his first battle. The weapon used has always been the same:

 

"More." A number of times throughout history, communicators thought the dragon was

 

defeated. This was particularly true when electrons entered their arsenal. During the

 

Civil War, as telegraph replaced messenger, the dragon was momentarily staggered but

 

quickly regained his momentum. In World War II, when radios and telephones assaulted

 

the beast, communicators on both sides stared in disbelief as he emerged not weakened,

 

but stronger than ever.


 

And during Vietnam, when satellites and airborne radio relays and tropospheric

 

multichannel systems relentlessly attacked, communicators were stunned when "Never

 

Enough" not only failed to die but actually grew in size. This bloody campaign was

 

witnessed by a sympathetic Army infantryman named General Creighton Abrams. As he

 

reflected upon the battle so determinedly fought by his signalmen he commented: "You

 

fellows belong to something that is almost a bottomless pit. No matter how big you

 

make the system, there are more people going to want to talk over it and more people

 

going to want to send things over it..." (14:157)

 

With the slash of his pen, the Commandant did what no communicator could

 

ever do. He declared the "Never Enough" attitude toward communications as dead and

 

established the reign of a new view: "Enough is Enough." His philosophy presents a

 

concept of communications set in the context of a new style of warfare. The perspective

 

is one of realism and reasonableness. Like a professional doctor, FMFM 1 outlines a

 

sound, philosophical "diet program" which curbs the insatiable hunger for

 

communications fostered by previous philosophies of warfare.

 

To appreciate this we must first consider the foundations on which FMFM 1

 

rests: its view of the world and war, and its doctrines of warfighting and command.

 

From these concepts, a number of precepts will be derived for communications needed

 

to support command and control on future battlefields. The "Enough is Enough" edict is

 

a preview of one of the most important, if not the most dramatic, comments about the

 

changes for military communications instituted by FMFM 1.

 

Unlike some views of warfare which portray war as a deterministic process to be

 

analyzed and solved given "enough" resources and information, FMFM 1 supports a

 

model of war which, as originally coined by Carl von Clausewitz, is cloaked in fog and

 


heated by friction. The fog of war "makes absolute certainty impossible; all actions in

 

war will be based on incomplete, inaccurate, or even contradictory information." Friction

 

makes "even the simplest functions in war extremely difficult." (3:119)

 

FMFM 1 describes a world in which changes have taken place within the United

 

States and for potential adversaries. These sobering insights portray our nation as a

 

world power which no longer enjoys vast numerical and technological superiority over its

 

foes. Given this view of the nature of war and our country's status, FMFM 1 calls for a

 

bold departure from our nation's previous philosophy of warfighting. This traditional

 

philosophy, known as attrition warfare, had been the predominant style used by winning

 

American commanders since the Civil War.

 

The fundamental belief of advocates of attrition warfare is that success depends

 

on destroying the enemy's physical means of promulgating war. This was the style of

 

warfare which pitted the overwhelming superiority of the American war machine against

 

the teeth of the enemy, matching strength against strength, and eventually grinding the

 

opposition down through massive firepower. Warfare was a systematic process, with the

 

victor being the one still standing after giving and receiving massive punishment in each

 

toe-to-toe engagement. Known as having a voracious appetite for men and equipment

 

already, warfare fought in this manner produced the highest losses of all.

 

It is difficult to argue with success. On the surface, departing from attrition-style

 

warfare appears to be a clear violation of the axiom: "Don't fix it if it isn't broken."

 

However, FMFM 1 assesses the reason this style was successful--the unmatched

 

superiority of the American military--and correctly concludes a new philosophy is

 

required, one not needing such conditions to achieve success on the battlefield.

 


FMFM 1 mandates the replacement of the traditional philosophy of attrition

 

warfare, based on firepower, with a philosophy of maneuver, based on movement.

 

Strength against weakness replaces strength against strength. The will of the enemy, not

 

his war machine, is the center of gravity against which the maneuver-style commander

 

focuses his main effort. The goal being to shatter the enemy's cohesion, organization,

 

command, and psychological balance rather than his accumulative physical destruction.

 

Victory depends more on military competence than sheer superiority of numbers in men

 

and equipment. This philosophy enables a Marine eppeditionary force to "win quickly,

 

with minimum casualties and limited external support, against a physically superior foe."

 

(17:37)

 

The maneuver commander possesses a number of characteristics which are

 

different from his attrition-style counterpart. These differences provide the link to why

 

changing warfare philosophies have such an affect on tactical communications. Four of

 

the most distinguishing features of maneuver warfare in this regard are presented in the

 

following paragraphs. From each is derived a corresponding precept for maneuver

 

communications:

 

Acceptance vice Rejection of Chaos: The management expert of the eighties,

 

Tom Peters, in his preface to Thriving on Chaos, had this comment for the business

 

community:

 

The true objective is to take chaos as given and learn to thrive on it. The

winners of tomorrow will deal proactively with chaos, will look at the chaos per

se as the source of market advantage, not as a problem to be got around. Chaos

and uncertainty are (will be) market opportunities for the wise; capitalizing on

fleeting market anomalies will be the successful business's greatest

accomplishment. (10:xiv)

 

Replacing the words "market" with "battlefield" and "business" with "military"

 

makes this observation applicable for the maneuver-style commander. This attitude


 

accepts the battlefield as being inherently unknowable. Perfect knowledge is simply not

 

attainable, no matter how sophisticated the command, control and communications

 

systems. Commanders holding the maneuver philosophy of warfare waste neither time

 

nor resources in useless attempts to "get around" the chaos.

 

Maneuver-style commanders recognize that continually striving for more

 

communications systems to exchange greater amounts of information about the

 

battlefield is nothing more than a "futile quest for certainty." (4:264) The attrition-style

 

attitude still can be found in orders aimed at standardizing command and control

 

operations throughout Marine Expeditionary Forces. Apparently these publications have

 

not yet been updated to reflect the FMFM 1 philosophy of warfare:

 

Only through an efficient command and control system will the commander be

able to acquire and process greater and more accurate amounts of information

in order to more effectively command...A command and control system must

assist the commander in reducing the amount of uncertainty on the battlefield

as to the enemy's activities, capabilities, and intentions, as well as, to accelerate

his own planning and decision process. (16:5-3)

 

Unlike the philosophy of attrition, which fervently believes "More is Better," the

 

maneuver philosophy of warfare recognizes the existence of, and more importantly the

 

requirement for, an upper limit on the "amount" of tactical communications.

 

Therefore, the first precept for maneuver communications is "Quality over

 

Quantity." The goal of maneuver communications is not simply to pass more

 

information about the battlefield but to support the exchange of the right information for

 

the commander. What is not yet distinguishable is what constitutes quality and quantity.

 

The remaining precepts will help clarity both points.

 

Decentralized vice Centraiized Control: Decentralized control is the antithesis of

 

micromanagement. Maneuver commanders achieve this through mission-type orders and

 

conveying operational intent. (15:1-3) Subordinates armed with this information are able

 


to operate virtually autonomously. They can respond quickly to local battlefield changes

 

while still operating under the adequate cohesion and coordination of a common goal.

 

The communications requirements for decentralized vice centralized control are

 

substantially reduced. Decentralized control employs communications which closely

 

follow the hierarchy of command: senior to immediate subordinate and supporting to

 

supported. Centralized control, on the other hand, tends to disregard such structures in

 

an effort to control all elements from a single location on the battlefield. The British

 

historian John Keegan identified this type of behavior on the grandest scale with Adolph

 

Hitler when he observed:

 

It may, to the layman, seem impressive that Hitler could dispute with Zeitzler

exact details of one or another regiment's complement of equipment--so many

guns of this calibre, so many of that. To the professional such pettifogging is

evidence of necessarily dangerous meddling. For radio did not bring to the

Fuhrer's headquarters all the other information of an immaterial but much more

important kind...which only a man on the spot would gather. (7:301)

 

This greater dependence on positive control directly results in more communications

 

required. In contrast, maneuver communications are considered a means of enhancing

 

operations, not as a requisite for their conduct.

 

The second precept for maneuver communications becomes "Why over How."

 

This highlights the importance of chain-of-command communications which support the

 

maneuver commander's dissemination of his intent rather than detailed "how-to"

 

directions to subordinates. "Why over How" also highlights the rejection of attrition-style

 

communications which attempt to maintain strict control during the heat of battle. In

 

fact, this precept acknowledges the importance of communications conducted prior to the

 

battle's start.

 

Implicit vice Explicit Communications: FMFM 1 calls for the exploitation of the

 

human ability to communicate implicitly. Through familiarity and trust, commanders


 

communicate quickly through mutual understanding and anticipation of actions, using

 

minimum phraseology, vice the exchange of explicit, detailed instructions common with

 

attrition-style commanders. (2:72)

 

Methods of information exchange do not possess the same degree of

 

effectiveness. The "non-worded" elements of human communications, which indudes

 

facial expression and tone of voice, are given substantial importance in FMFM 1. Face-

 

to-face conversation is judged the most desirable form of communications. Radio and

 

telephone systems which support voice communications are next; the advantage being the

 

spoken word carries far more information than its written equivalent and is far quicker.

 

The least desirable means is the emotionally vacant exchange of written messages.

 

(1:188)

 

Based on this axiom of maneuver warfare, the third precept of maneuver

 

communications is "Voice over Message." Systems supporting implicit communications

 

place high value on capabilities which most closely mirror face-to-face conversations.

 

Desirable features include the ability to exchange human voice at the quality level which

 

allows recognition of the speaker. Unlike attrition-style communications, which are

 

oriented toward exchanging detailed message directives and statistical reports of the

 

battlefield, maneuver communications concentrate on supporting implicit voice

 

conversations between commanders.

 

Speed vice Plodding: Boxing experts claim the three most important attributes of

 

fighters are "speed, speed, and speed." The same belief is held by the maneuver warrior

 

as it relates to his philosophy of war. Speed is the prerequisite for maneuver. Success

 

on the battlefield requires the maneuver commander "to operate inside the enemy's

 

observation-orientation-decision-action loop, rendering his forces ineffective and

 


eventually disrupting the enemy commander's world view, causing the collapse of the

 

enemy forces." (9:26)

 

In the plodding environment of attrition warfare, high capacity communications

 

networks requiring hours or even days to employ are acceptable. Some fixed

 

communications systems used during the Vietnam War required several months to

 

establish. (14:155) Admittedly such systems, once installed, possess a type of speed

 

associated with moving information at high velocities. However, these systems are

 

completely unsuitable for the dynamic environment of maneuver warfare.

 

Maneuver communications enhance the operating speed for the commander by

 

increasing system availability. This characteristic provides a comparison of the "on-line"

 

or operating time of a system with the "off-line" or overhead time required for planning,

 

installing, troubleshooting, and repairing. For maneuver communications systems, the

 

primary goal is not to send more information at faster velocities but to enhance the

 

operating tempo of the commander by being available when needed, regardless of the

 

battlefield situation.

 

A suitable analogy for attrition communications is a train which, having such

 

great inertia, is both slow to start and difficult to change directions. In contrast,

 

maneuver communications is more like a slalom sports car which, being both light and

 

maneuverable, can rapidly adapt to both destination and environmental changes.

 

The final precept for maneuver communications is "Availability over Velocity."

 

The fluid nature of the maneuver battlefield demands communications systems which are

 

quick to employ, easy to use, and highly reliable. The accepted tradeoff is that such

 

systems may not possess the highest velocity of information exchange. Since

 

conversational voice communications is the dominant media of maneuver warfare, the

 


criteria for acceptable equipment performance is set by human speech, a relatively "low

 

velocity" requirement.

 

In delineating a new philosophy of warfighting, FMFM 1 established new precepts

 

of communications for the maneuver-style commander. This marks an end to the Marine

 

Corps' use of the philosophy of attrition warfare and its "Never Enough" attitude toward

 

communications. It also negates the use of the "More"-based precepts of attrition

 

communications (Figure 1). For the transition of warfare philosophies to be complete, a

 

change in precepts for communications must occur as well. Fortunately, this process

 

should be eased because for the first time in Marine history, communicators can link

 

their guiding principles directly to the formally established warfighting philosophy of the

 

Corps.

 

 

Click here to view image

 

 

With the advent of FMFM 1, a unique "window of opportunity" has opened for

 

an immediate application of the precepts of maneuver communications. Whether

 

planned for or coincidental, the synchronization of FMFM 1's publication with the

 

beginning of the long-awaited "Digital Revolution" of Marine Corps tactical

 

communications systems could not have more appropriately timed.

 

The phrase "Digital Revolution" highlights the characteristics of major

 

communications systems which are now being fielding to Fleet Marine Forces. The

 

event is revolutionary for it involves a replacement of the majority of all communications

 


systems, some of which have been in the inventory for as long as twenty-five years. The

 

new items represent a departure from predominantly non-secure analog communications

 

equipments of the past to a new generation featuring integrated security and

 

sophisticated digital design and transmission techniques.

 

The bulk of new equipments support the two major communications systems on

 

the battlefield, the Single Channel Radio and Switched Backbone systems. Single

 

Channel Radio provides most command communications for regiments and below while

 

Switched Backbone systems serve as the primary communications means for higher

 

echelons. Single Channel Radio is being "revolutionized" by the fielding of Single

 

Channel Ground and Airborne Radio Systems (SINCGARS). Switched Backbone

 

systems are being "digitized" by the introduction of the Tri-Service Tactical

 

Communications (TRI-TAC) family of telephone switches and multichannel radio

 

equipments.

 

These new systems possess tremendous potential for providing superior support

 

to maneuver commanders. On the other hand, neither is particularly well suited to

 

support the alternative of attrition. SINCGARS is particularly sensitive to the warfare

 

philosophy it supports, exhibiting dramatic variations in performance between the two.

 

An appreciation of the differences leads to a sense of urgency as to why the precepts of

 

maneuver communications need to be quickly integrated into the fielding of SINCGARS.

 

Failure to apply the precepts of maneuver communications would result in an

 

erroneous evaluation of SINCGARS and the resultant distrust, if not complete rejection,

 

by the commander to its real benefit in maneuver warfare. Such a reaction is not

 

without precedent in military history. General Pershing, as he led the expedition into

 

Mexico in 1916, had a similar communications situation. Although he was equipped with

 


new "wireless" radios, they were rarely used because his commanders distrusted them,

 

insisting messages be "sent be wire only." The potential benefit of the new equipment

 

was lost because commanders failed to adapt their thinking. (5:2)

 

SINCGARS is an entire family of manpack, vehicular, and airborne radio systems

 

which will replace all AN/PRC-77 manpack, AN/VRC-12 series vehicular-mounted very

 

high frequency (VHF), and airborne VHF frequency modulated (FM) radios. At first

 

glance, the manpack version of SINCGARS might be confused for the radio it replaces,

 

the AN/PRC-77, which has been in use by Marines since Vietnam. However, after

 

closer examination of the radio's control panel, the search for further similarities, apart

 

from perhaps the volume control, is useless. (11:2-2)

 

These differences are primarily due to the system's electronic counter-

 

countermeasures (ECCM) capability. ECCM is the ability of a communications system

 

to function despite enemy electronic warfare efforts. The critical ECCM capability of

 

SINCGARS is frequency hopping. This is a spread-spectrum transmission technique

 

which enables SINCGARS to change frequencies about 100 times per second over any or

 

all of 2320 different frequencies between 30 and 88 megahertz. (18:1-129) As a result, it

 

is extremely effective against severe, enemy jamming and direction finding actions.

 

This single capability raises the importance of SINCGARS on the modern

 

battlefield above previous non-frequency hopping single channel radios. The potential

 

exists for battlefield commanders to communicate using SINCGARS with both impunity

 

and covertness from the opposition. There is, however, a caveat. Only when

 

SINCGARS is employed under the precepts of maneuver communications are its full

 

ECCM capabilities realized. Applying the four precepts of maneuver communications

 


will demonstrate the ability of SINCGARS to support maneuver commanders, as well as

 

its signfflcant drawbacks in an attrition environment.

 

Quality over Quantity: The first precept of maneuver communications is

 

extremely important for SINCGARS. This is because its advanced ECCM capabilities

 

did not come without cost. The price was an increased demand on the available

 

frequency spectrum. Fortunately for the maneuver commander, the acceptance of fewer

 

networks having much greater quality, reliability, and survivability is a solution entirely in

 

keeping with the philosophy of FMFM 1.

 

SINCGARS presents a dilemma to the frequency manager responsible for

 

allocating available frequencies for networks on the battlefield. The issue concerns the

 

number and range of hopping frequencies used on each SINCGARS network and the

 

resulting ECCM performance. The relationship is a direct proportion; the larger the

 

range and number of frequencies, the greater the ECCM protection. If there were no

 

further interactions between networks, all SINCGARS networks could be allocated the

 

same maximum number and range of available frequencies. However, this is not the

 

case because SINCGARS networks do interfere with one another.

 

The newest Army publication on combat net radio operations assigns an entire

 

chapter specifically to mutual interference considerations for SINCGARS. This

 

publication contains important insights into the problems which SINCGARS has if

 

employed in a dense, attrition-style communications environment:

 

The modern C2 system uses multiple collocated radios to provide an effective

communications system. The potential exists for a number of different radio sets

or configurations to interfere with each other...The frequency hopping network

problem is slightly more complex to address for battlefield spectrum

management. (13:9-3,4)


 

The document presents three techniques for minimizing the problems inherent with high

 

densities of collocated SINCGARS networks: time sharing, spectrum sharing, and

 

antenna separation. Each, however, possesses its own disadvantages which further

 

reinforces the importance of applying "Quality over Quantity" as the real solution for

 

high quality SINCGARS performance for the commander.

 

Time sharing is a management technique whereby strict control measures are

 

used to ensure collocated SINCGARS networks are not used at the same time. This

 

necessitates the senior participant of each affected network be located at the same site.

 

Though more likely in the centralized control environment of attrition, such a

 

circumstance is the exception on the maneuver battlefield.

 

Spectrum sharing attempts to reduce interference by assigning different frequency

 

hopsets to collocated networks. (Even though each radio changes frequencies in a

 

pseudo-random manner, the regular occurrence of the momentary use of the same or

 

adjacent frequency by multiple radios results in degradation of performance.)

 

Unfortunately, "band sectoring" or limiting the number and range of frequencies used by

 

SINCGARS only reduces its ECCM capability. After extensive testing, the Marine

 

Corps has declared band sectoring an "unacceptable solution" to SINCGARS cosite

 

interference. (19:1)

 

Antenna separation, though considered the most desirable technique by the

 

Army, still has its disadvantages. Setup and teardown times increase whenever radios

 

are remoted from their antennas. This problem, though relatively inconsequential to the

 

attrition commander, is unacceptable for the highly mobile subscribers of maneuver

 

warfare.


 

High densities of SINCGARS networks on the battlefield results in widespread

 

degraded performance. This is true regardless of the techniques used to reduce mutual

 

interference. Only be reducing the quantity of SINCGARS can the high quality of each

 

network be achieved. This matches the needs of maneuver commanders. However, for

 

the attrition-style commander, this situation is completely unacceptable.

 

Why over How: This precept highlights the differences between the structures

 

and types of communications used with decentralized vice centralized control. Again,

 

maneuver communications is seen as the environment best supported by SINCGARS.

 

As discussed earlier, SINCGARS performs better when lightly distributed

 

throughout the battlefield. This would be the case for maneuver commanders using

 

chain-of-command oriented networks. The hierarchical structure results in fewer radios

 

per command post. Dense clusters or collocations of equipment, as would be common in

 

large, attrition-style command posts, limits ECCM effectiveness and increases mutual

 

interference between radios.

 

"Why over How" also emphasizes the employment of the characteristic short

 

transmissions used by maneuver commanders employing implicit communications. This

 

not only directly enhances the ECCM characteristics of each network but also reduces

 

the likelihood of interference between adjacent networks. In effect, shortening the

 

length of transmission time results in a form of time sharing.

 

Though not actively orchestrated from a central location, the use of shorter

 

communications by participants on all networks reduces the chance of mutual

 

interference occurring. In the highly mobile environment of the maneuver battlefield,

 

where time does not permit remoting antennas or use of radio remotes to achieve

 

required antenna separation distances, the existence of this probabilistic form of time

 


sharing via implicit communications may be the only means to retain use of multiple

 

SINCGARS networks.

 

Voice over Message: Maneuver communications places great importance on high

 

quality voice systems. SINCGARS was primarily designed to provide speaker-

 

recognition voice communications despite hostile electronic warfare. Though possessing

 

a secondary capability for data transmission, this feature was not optimized. For

 

example, the design specification for SINCGARS required the effective operating range

 

of data transmission to be only half that of voice. (12:260) SINCGARS best supports

 

communications environments which require a large percentage of operational time

 

dedicated to voice, leaving little time for data sharing. Again, this mirrors the priorities

 

of maneuver commanders. (13:1-2)

 

Availability over Velocity: In this case, the question whether SINCGARS best

 

supports an environment demanding availability or velocity is partially answered. The

 

last precept established SINCGARS as primarily a voice communications system which

 

was not optimized for high velocity data transmission. Remaining is whether

 

SINCGARS with all the complexities associated with its ECCM capability is "available

 

enough" to support maneuver commanders.

 

A number of technological improvements were incorporated into SINCGARS to

 

improve its maintainability, a major factor affecting system availability. As a result, the

 

demonstrated mean time between failure (MTBF) for SINCGARS is over five thousand

 

hours, an order of magnitude greater than equipment it replaces. (6) And when failures

 

do occur, the extensive built-in test (BIT) features and modular component design speeds

 

troubleshooting and repair.


 

The other factors affecting system availability concern planning and installation.

 

When these parameters are examined, a number of differences are noted between

 

SINCGARS and older radios. This is due to the more complex planning and installation

 

requirements related to its ECCM capabilities. In particular, the unique planning

 

needed for SINCGARS sets it apart from non-frequency hopping radios.

 

The establishment of a SINCGARS network requires a number of parameters be

 

precisely planned, coordinated, disseminated, and implemented in each radio. All must

 

be electronically loaded with the same hopset of operating frequencies. They must be

 

loaded with the same transmission security key to guarantee identical frequency hopping

 

patterns. For radios to begin hopping at the same point in the pattern, each must be

 

loaded with the same net identifier code. And finally, to ensure frequency hopping starts

 

at the same time, all systems must have the same Julian date and zulu time. (In

 

comparison, the primary planning consideration for the non-frequency hopping radios is

 

simply ensuring all net members use the same frequency.)

 

Given this partial list of actions required to establish just one SINCGARS net,

 

the effect of reducing the number of networks is an overall decrease in the

 

implementation burden. Had a similar approach been used with networks of non-

 

frequency hopping radios, the affect on system availability would have been far less

 

significant. This is not the case, though, for frequency hopping systems. The maneuver

 

commander's ability to operate with fewer networks than his attrition counterpart

 

directly improves system availability.

 

This brief analysis highlights the diverse conclusions which attrition and maneuver

 

warfare commanders obtain when viewing SINCGARS through their own philosophical

 

lenses. To advocates of attrition warfare, SINCGARS is a dreadful step backward in

 


their eternal quest for more and more communications. However, for the new FMFM 1

 

warrior of the Marine Corps, SINCGARS realizes all his precepts for a maneuver

 

communications system.

 

The recent Persian Gulf war brought to the front page of The Washington Post a

 

story by a journalist who spent the entire 100 hours of the ground campaign with LtGen

 

Walter Boomer, commanding general of the I Marine Expeditionary Force. The only

 

negative comments by LtGen Boomer recorded in the entire article were as follows:

 

A few potential trouble spots were brewing on the battlefield. The 1st

Marine Division was pushing forward too quickly, and communications

breakdowns foiled efforts to raise commanders.

"I need to talk, so make it work, goddamnit!" he barked at trembling

radio technicians. In four days of war, it was the persistent communications

failures that most consistently sent the normally mild-tempered commander with

the deep Tidewater drawl into bursts of rage. (8)

 

The cause of the problem is not included. However, this might be indicative that the

 

dragon "Never Enough" still fights on, though surely in its death throes. After all, the

 

antidote prescribed by FMFM 1 takes time to circulate throughout the entire system of

 

the Marine Corps. Unfortunately, in the case of "Digital Revolution" communications

 

systems now entering the Fleet Marine Forces, time is running out. The Marine Corps

 

must aggressively apply its new philosophy for warfare to the wider sphere of

 

communications or risk losing the benefits of both.


 

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

1. Bohannan, Anthony G. "C3I in Support of the Land Commander," in Principles of

Command & Control. Ed. Dr. Jon L. Boyes and Dr. Stephen J. Andriole.

Washington: AFCEA International Press, 1987.

 

2. Bolger, Major Daniel P. "Command or Control?" Military Review, 7 (July 1990), 69-79.

 

3. Clausewitz, Carl von. On War. Ed. and Tr. Michael Howard and Peter Paret.

Princeton: The Princeton University Press, 1976.

 

4. Creveld, Martin Van. Command in War. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985.

 

5. Herres, General Robert T. "The Importance of Research in Command, Control, and

Communications," in Science of Command and Control: Coping with Uncertainty.

Ed. Dr. Stuart E. Johnson and Dr. Alexander H Levis. Washington: AFCEA

International Press, 1988.

 

6. Horne, GySgt G. W., SINCGARS Project Office, Marine Corps Research,

Development and Acquisition Command. Personal interview about SINCGARS

System Availability. Quantico, Virginia, April 5, 1991.

 

7. Keegan, John. The Mask of Command. New York: Penguin Books, 1988.

 

8. Moore, Molly. "War Up Close: 100 Hours with the Corps," The Washington Post,

March 3, 1991, Section A., p.1.

 

9. Orr, Major George E. Combat Operations C3I: Fundamental and Interactions. Maxwell

AFB: Air University Press, 1983.

 

10. Peters, Tom. Thriving on Chaos. New York: Harper & Row, 1987.

 

11. U.S. Army. U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command. Operator's Manual:

SINCGARS Ground Combat Net Radio, ICOM, TM 11-5820-890-10-1. Ft.

Monmouth, 1990.

 

12. U.S. Army. U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command. SINCGARS System

Engineering Document-Ground Radio System. Ft. Monmouth, 1989.

 

13. U.S. Army. U.S. Army Signal Center. Combat Net Radio Operations, FM 11-32. Ft.

Gordon, 1989.

 

14. U.S. Department of the Army. Vietnam Studies: Communications-Electronics 1962-

1970. Washington, 1972.

 

15. U.S. Marine Corps. Marine Corps Combat Development Command. Ground Combat

Element Command and Control, OH 6-1A. Quantico, 1988.


 

16. U.S. Marine Corps. Marine Corps Combat Development Command. TRI-Marine

Expeditionary Force 0rder P3120.1. Quantico, 1989.

 

17. U.S. Marine Corps. Marine Corps Combat Development Command. Warfighting,

FMFM 1. Quantico, 1989.

 

18. U.S. Marine Corps. Marine Corps Research, Development and Acquisition

Command. Principai Technical Charactenstics of US. Marine Corps

Communication-Electronic Equipment, TM-2000-15/2A. Washington, 1989.

 

19. U.S. Marine Corps. Marine Corps Research, Development and Acquisition

Command. SINCGARS (V) Cosite Inteference Test Summary Report. Washington,

1990.

 



NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list