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The Joint Force Commander's Communications System
CSC 1992
Title:  The Joint Force Commander's Communications System
Author: Major Gene A. Steffanetta, U.S. Marine Corps
Thesis: A joint force commander must know and understand the
generic communications architecture for the type and size force
he commands before he can effectively influence the design of
his particular system.
Background: The command of joint forces requires an adequate
command and control capability.  The cornerstone of a command
and control capability is the communications system.  No two
communications systems are alike, even for same size and type
forces. A joint force commander must know and understand the
generic communications architecture for the type and size force
he commands before he can influence the design of his particular
architecture.  A generic joint task force communications
architecture is surveyed from "birth to maturity."
Communications of increasing capacity and complexity are
established providing the commander with increasing operational
capabilities.  The Joint Communications Support Element is the
Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff-controlled communications asset
that will likely be tasked to provide the communications
personnel and equipment to support the joint task force
headquarters.  The joint force commander must understand and be
familiar with Joint Communications Support Element
responsibilities and capabilities.
Recommendation: A successful joint force commander needs to
personally influence the design of his communications system.
This can only be effectively accomplished if the commander first
understands the generic communications architecture and-support
structure for the type and size force he commands.
Thesis:  A joint force commander must know and understand the
             generic communications architecture for t,he type and
             size force he commands before he can effectively
             influence the design of his particular system.
I.   	Generic joint force communications architecture
     	A.  	Basic requirements
     	B.  	Transmission media
     	C.  	System capabilities
II.  	Evolution of the communications system
     	A.  	Ultra high frequency satellite radio
     	B.  	Defense Communications System extension
     	C.  	Super high frequency multichannel radio
     	D.  	High frequency multichannel and terrestrial radio
     	E.  	Switching systems
         	1. 	Voice
         	2. 	Data
III. 	Sources of communications personnel and equipment
     	A.  	CINC owned
     	B.  	CINC theatre assets
     	C.  	Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff-controlled assets
IV.  	Joint Communications Support Element
     	A.  	Structure
     	B.  	Mission
     	C.  	Capabilities
     	D.  	Generic joint task force headquarters support package
V.   	Joint force commander's role
                              by Major Gene A. Steffanetta,
                                  U.S. Marine Corps
     	The problem of commanding and controlling armed forces, and
     	of instituting effective communications with and within
     	them, is as old as war Itself.  A Stone Age chieftain had
     	to devise the optimal organization and find the methods and
     	technical means to command the forces at his disposal.
     	From his day to ours, failure to consider and to solve the
     	problem was to court disaster--indeed, to make it
     	impossible for the forces to exist.
                                     Martin Van Creveld in
                                     Command in War
     	The authority to command joint forces is assigned to
commanders who possess the wherewithal to influence the action;
operationally that requires functional expertise and an adequate
command and control capability.  The cornerstone of any command
and control capability is the communications system.
     	A joint force commander's communications system does not
"just happen."  The system is deliberately established over time
following a blueprint architecture of the commander's
choosing.   A joint force commander must know and understand the
generic communications architecture for the type and size force
he commands before he can effectively influence the design of
his particular system.  The joint force commander of today must
have a communications system he understands and can rely on to
effectively coordinate and employ his forces in combat.  This
paper surveys what a typical joint force commander's
communications system might look like, how the system
capabilities might evolve, and where the personnel and equipment
might come from to provide the communications support.
     	Joint Chiefs of Staff Publication (JCS Pub) 6-05.1, Manual
for Employing Joint Tactical Communications Systems, provides
guidance and technical direction for planning joint
communications systems. The conceptual joint communications
system of JCS Pub 6-05.1 is based on a joint task, force (JTF)
deployed in response to a non-NATO crisis in an undeveloped area
of operations.(4:2-1)  The Department of Defense Dictionary of
Military and Associated Terms defines a joint task force as a
force "composed of assigned or attached elements of the Army,
the Navy or the Marine Corps, and the Air Force, or two or more
of these Services, which is constituted and so designated by the
Secretary of Defense or by the commander of a unified command
{CINC}, a specified command, or an existing joint task force."
     	Recognizing that the days are long gone when the United
States (U.S.) undertakes military operations with unilateral
Service forces, a JTF with a mission like that in JCS Pub 6-05.1
offers a sound basis for investigating a joint force commander's
communications system.
     	Basic requirements for an effective communications system
include reliability, security, speed, and flexibility.  An
essential and especially critical system characteristic In
satisfying these requirements in joint operations is
interoperability.  A JTF commander's communications system must
eliminate, or seek to minimize, communications boundaries,
ensuring completely interoperable and robust connectivity to and
between his component commanders.
     	On today's battlefield, joint communications systems must
provide high capacity, fully digital, secure and ,non-secure
transmission and switching systems. Typical connectivity
requirements for a JTF commander are depicted in Figure 1.  The
principal transmission media supporting the JTF commander are a
combination of Defense Communications System (DCS), single and
multichannel tactical satellite radio, single and multichannel
high frequency radio, and multichannel troposcatter radio
communications.  Not surprisingly, the transmission media
employed to provide this connectivity are, for the most part,
the same media used by the JTF component commanders for
communications with their subordinate warfighting commanders.
     	The transmission media employed depend on the phase of the
operation, the actual physical location of the JTF and component
commanders, and equipment availability.  As forces build in the
area of operations- transmission systems of increasing capacity
and complexity are installed.  A fully developed JTF
headquarters communications configuration is depicted in Figure
2.  A record (teletypewriter/data) network, voice switching
network, and other special purpose circuits are shown supported
by these transmission media. (4:2-2)
Click here to view image
     	The following major generic capabilities are required to
support a JTF headquarters:(2:K-8-1)
1.   	Secure voice and facsimile.  Secure voice and secure
facsimile capabilities are required from initial deployment
through establishment of the full JTF communications system.
2.   	Telephone service.  An increasing capability to terminate
secure and non-secure local, regional, and AUTOVON access lines
is required as the communications system develops.  A high
capacity automatic telephone switching capability is needed to
support the fully deployed JTF headquarters.
3.   	Communications center.  A teletypewriter and data record
switching capability for General Service (GENSER) traffic into
the AUTODIN and Special Intelligence (SI) traffic into the
Defense Special Security Communications System (DSSCS) is
required.  Additionally, other special purpose message networks
are essential as the communications system develops.
4.   	Weather central.  A capability to receive weather broadcasts
and facsimile, and possibly imagery, is required.
5.   	World Wide Military Command and Control System (WWMCCS).
Connectivity to the WWMCCS Intercomputer Network is required for
secure teleconferencing and joint deployment planning and
6.   	Technical control.  A high capacity technical control
facility is required to support inter- and intra-node patching.
circuit conditioning, and test/monitor functions for the joint
communications system. (2:K-8-1)
     	Having looked at the fully developed communications
architecture and examined the communications capabilities
required to support the JTF commander, "how do we get there from
here?"  Starting with a zero-base, how, and in what sequence,
are the capabilities provided to support the JTF commander's
     	Initial JTF communications will be austere, limited by lift
and deployment constraints.  A quick reaction team of four or
five parachute qualified communications personnel may
immediately deploy to the area to provide an initial
communications capability.  Though primarily used for secure
voice communications, the circuits also support secure
facsimile, data, and teletypewriter service.  The flexibility
provided by the highly reliable, rapidly installed, and compact
UHF satellite terminals make this transmission medium ideal for
advanced echelon and initial JTF commander use.  Two single
channel ultra high frequency (UHF) satellite radio circuits will
provide the JTF commander with initial communications
connectivity as depicted in Figure 3.  Single channel high
frequency (HF) radio circuits supplement the UHF satellite
connectivity.  The AN/MSC-71 and LST-5B and the AN/PRC-104
radios support the satellite and HF connectivity, respectively,
at the JTF headquarters.
Click here to view image
     	As soon as a base operating area is secure and strategic
lift is available, connectivity is established to extend DCS
networks (AUTODIN, AUTOVON, and the DSSCS) to the JTF.   This is
accomplished through a multichannel super high frequency (SHF)
satellite link with a designated SHF DCS "gateway" earth
station.  A multichannel HF radio circuit to a designated HF DCS
gateway serves as a backup for the SHF satellite connectivity.
To ensure reliable and rapid communicatons, a JTF headquarters
establishes a minimum of two DCS gateways.  The AN/TSC-85B
Ground Mobile Forces (GMF) satellite "hub" terminal and the
AN/TSC-60(V)5 multichannel HF terminal support the extension of
the DCS to the JTF.
     	The GMF satellite terminals also provide the JTF commander
with multichannel, high capacity connectivity to his Army, Air
Force, Marine Corps, and Joint Special Operations Task Force
(JSOTF) component commanders as well as to the supported CINC.
The GMF terminals operate under a hub/spoke philosophy, with
each hub terminal capable of supporting up to four spoke
terminals.  The JTF SHF satellite network typically supports at
least 84 channels (12 to each of the Army, Air Force, Marine
Corps, and JSOTF component commanders; 12 to the supported CINC;
and 24 to the DCS).(3:8-13)  Multichannel SHF satellite radio,
using the same GMF satellite terminals, is the primary
transmission medium for the high capacity internal connectivity
for Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, and JSOTF component
commanders (with their warfighting commanders).  Within the JTF,
the workhorse transmission medium for the JTF and component
commanders is multichannel SHF satellite radio.  Multichannel HF
radio and terrestrial (earthly) microwave radio provide the JTF
commander with alternate long haul transmission media for secure
voice and record connectivity with the component commanders.
Equipment used to support the JTF headquarters is the AN/TSC-122
and the AN/TRC-170(V3), respectively.
     	Voice and data switching systems, supported by the
previously discussed transmission media, are the means within
the JTF communications architecture of extending and providing
efficient and high capacity communications services to a large
number of users (subscribers).
     	Circuit (voice) switches provide users with both local and
long-distance telephone service.  Secure facsimile, using
dial-up through the circuit switch network, provides maps and
pictures both within and external to the JTF.  The
AN/TTC-39A(V)1 automatic switchboard supports circuit switching
at the JTF headquarters.  Message (data and teletypewriter)
switches of a communications center automatically route traffic
to/from local and remote subscribers and to the AUTODIN and
DSSCS.  Both GENSER and SI traffic are handled by the same
message switch.  The AN/TYC-39 supports message switching at the
JTF headquarters.
     	Circuit and message switching systems along with their
supporting multichannel transmission means are commonly referred
to as the "switched backbone" of the JTF communications
architecture.  When this switched backbone is operational, the
JTF communications system is fully established.
     	The JTF commander's communications system has just grown
from an austere few single channel links providing minimum
essential initial communications into a complex, high capacity,
digital, switched, fully integrated network of systems fully
supporting all command and control requirements.  But where did
the personnel and equipment come from to "make it happen?"  Does
each CINC have a building of communications equipment and
associated personnel sitting idle, waiting for a crisis to
develop, and ready to deploy on short notice to support a JTF
headquarters?  Not surprisingly, the answer is no, primarily
because of resource (manpower and dollar) constraints.  Yet some
CINCs do own very limited quantities of communications equipment
that they purchased with CINC initiative funds.  These funds are
monies provided to the CINC to be used as he deems appropriate
to satisfy his high priority requirements that may not have been
funded in the normal Program Objective Memorandum cycle.  As an
example, the U.S. Atlantic commander currently owns several
"suitcase communications packages" capable of providing a secure
voice capability via UHF single channel satellite
radio. (2:K-8-A-2)
     	If the communications resources did not come from CINC-owned
assets, then where did they come from?  When constituting a JTF,
a CINC has two "sources of supply" for the communications
resources necessary to support the JTF headquarters.  The first
source is from CINC organic (theatre) assets.  The CINC merely
tasks his Service component commanders to provide all or a
portion of the required JTF commander's communications support.
This is the likely source for very small-scale and/or very
limited-duration operations.  The second and more likely source
is from Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) controlled
tactical communications assets.
     	Certain Department of Defense resources are controlled and
allocated by the CJCS to ensure the availability of sufficient
tactical communications assets for communications support to
deployed elements of unified and specified commands during
contingencies, crises, or war.(1:1)  Though some Services have
equipment that falls in this category, the preponderance of the
resources (personnel and equipment) belongs to the Joint
Communications Support Element (JCSE).  CJCS Memorandum of
Policy 3 establishes procedures for requesting CJCS-controlled
tactical communications assets. In requesting CJCS-controlled
assets, the CINC states that, in light of theatre-wide support
requirements, theatre assets are unavailable or insufficient to
satisfy the requirements of the JTF headquarters.
     	Because JCSE will normally be tasked to install, operate,
and maintain the JTF commander's communications architecture, a
closer look at the JCSE is warranted.  Yet, though it is
reasonable to assume JCSE support for a JTF headquarters, JCSE
support cannot be assured.
     	The JCSE is headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base,
Florida, and structured as a battalion-size organization.
Authorized manning is 204 Army, 204 Air Force, 60 Navy, 19
Marine Corps, and 19 civilian personnel, totaling 506
personnel.(5)  This JCSE organization is complimented by the
290th Joint Communications Support Squadron (JCSS) (also located
at MacDill Air Force Base) and the 224th JCSS (located in
Brunswick, Georgia), creating an organization known as the
"Greater JCSE."  The Greater JCSE, 960 strong, combines the best
assets of the Regular forces and the Air National Guard,
ensuring communications resources of high quality, and in
sufficient quantity, to meet anticipated National Command
Authority requirements. (6)
     	The mission of the JCSE, as tasked by the CJCS, is to
provide communications support for two JTF headquarters, two
Special Operations Command headquarters, and tailored
communications packages for smaller contingency missions such as
non-combatant evacuation operations, embassy support, or
disaster relief operations.  The JCSE possesses all necessary
terminal equipment (telephone, teletypewriter, computer, and
facsimile) as well as transmission, switching, and ancillary
support equipment.
     	The requesting CINC pays all associated JCSE expenses, to
include priority airlift transportation and personnel support
costs (including per diem but excluding military pay and
     	When JCSE support is approved by the CJCS, a five person
JCSE "command and control communications and computer network
engineering and planning team" is usually available to assist in
inter-Service and international interoperabillty
planning. (7:A18)
     	The JCSE provides the JTF commander with connectivity
enroute to, as well as in, the objective area.  Enroute secure
voice, data, teletypewriter, and facsimile is provided by a
C-130 or C-141 joint airborne communications center/command post
package; single channel HF and UHF satellite radio and
line-of-sight single channel radio provide the transmission
media. (5)  This package, to include a limited switching
capability, also provides an initial communications capability
for the JTF headquarters once on the ground in the objective
     	The JCSE provides the equipment and personnel to install,
operate, and maintain all communications facilities and systems
at the headquarters of the JTF and JSOTF.  Additionally, the
JCSE provides the equipment and personnel to install, operate,
and maintain the satellite terminals (multichannel SHF and
single channel UHF) and multichannel HF terminals at the Service
component headquarters that link with the JTF headquarters.
     	Each Service component provides the equipment and personnel
to install, operate, and maintain both ends of terrestrial
multichannel transmission system links between the Service
component headquarters and the headquarters of the JTF or
JSOTF.  The JTF commander tasks a Service component commander to
provide the equipment and personnel for both ends of lateral
communications links between Service component headquarters.  At
the Service component headquarters high capacity message and
circuit switching capabilities, as well as a digital technical
control capability, is a Service responsibility.
     	The total airlift requirement for a generic JCSE JTF
headquarters communications support package is 11 C-141
equivalent aircraft loads, which includes all necessary
communications equipment and 154 personnel.  Of the 154
personnel, 125 would locate at the JTF headquarters, seven at
each of the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps Service component
headquarters, and four each at the American Embassy and Allied
headquarters.(5)  The total airlift requirement for a generic
Special Operations Command headquarters communications support
package is 11 C-141 equivalent aircraft loads, which includes
all necessary communications equipment and 138 personnel.(5)
These ready-made generic support packages can be tailored, as
required, to meet the specific JTF commander's requirements.
                         JOINT FORCE COMMANDER'S ROLE
     	Now that the joint force commander knows what a typical
generic joint communications system looks like, how it grows
from infancy to maturity, and where the resources will likely
come from to support the joint system, what is left for the
commander to do?  Design his system!   However, the commander
must know and fully understand the structure of the generic
communications system for the type and size force he commands.
Only then can he effectively modify the generic architecture to
accommodate his organization, personal command style, and the
unique situation he faces.  The commander is the architect of
his communications system! (8:81)
1. 	Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.  CJCS Memorandum of Policy  3, 
January 31, 1990.
2. 	Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Atlantic Command.  USCINCLANT JOINT
COMMOPLAN, January 16, 1990.
3. 	Defense Communications Agency.  Joint Connectivity Handbook 
(JTC3A Handbook 8000), 2d ed, April 1989.
4. 	Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Manual for Employing Joint Tactical 
Communications Systems, June 1, 1986.
5. 	Joint Communications Support Element.  1991 command brief,  undated.
6. 	Joint Communications Support Element Unit History and Mission. 
Fact sheet, undated.
7. 	Joint Communications Support Element 1991 Planner's Guide. 
Reference pamphlet, undated.
8. 	Monteleon, Victor J. and Dr. James R. Miller.  "Another Look at 
C3 Architecture."  Signal, May 1988, 81-85.
9. 	Woodward, Maj John A. and Cdr Doug Lynn.  "C2 Systems
Interoperability."  Amphibious Warfare Review, Summer 1990, 52-56.

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