Military


Force XXI Battle Command, Brigade-and-Below (FBCB2)

FBCB2 provides situational awareness and command and control to the lowest tactical echelons. It will facilitate a seamless flow of battle command information across the battlespace, and will interoperate with external command and control and sensor systems, such as ABCS (formerly ATCCS).

The end result will be a vertical and horizontal integration of the digital battlespace and the brigade-and-below tactical unit levels.

The FBCB2 system is comprised of:

  • Appropriate category of Applique or embedded system hardware.
  • FBCB2 software—architecturally compliant with the DII COE.
  • Position navigation and reporting capability (e.g., Global Positioning System (GPS) or an embedded position-navigation (POSNAV) capability).
  • An interface to a terrestrial communication system (e.g., SINCGARS and/or Enhanced Position Location Reporting System (EPLRS) radio) or to a satellite communications system for operations over long distances or rugged terrain.
  • A combat identification capability (e.g., a BCIS capability was planned, prior to the cancellation of this program in late 2001).
  • Functionally, the FBCB2 system supports lower–echelon battle command tactical mission requirements including:

  • Real-time situational awareness for commander, staff, and soldiers.
  • Shared common picture of the battlespace.
  • Graphical displays, with friendly and enemy unit locations.
  • Target identification.
  • Integrated logistics support.
  • Communications/electronics interfaces with host platforms.
  • FBCB2 provides near-term C2 capabilities to Force XXI units at brigade and subordinate echelons. The FBCB2 system is comprised of hardware, software, and databases being acquired under the Applique and other programs. FBCB2 interfaces with:

    • Items already found at brigade-and-below echelons. Examples of these are components of ATCCS and C4I capabilities embedded in weapons systems/platforms.
    • The Army Tactical Internet, which is Thrust 2 of the Army's Implementation Strategy.

    One of the most important aspects of this effort is the development of software and database capabilities which are common and seamlessly interoperable across all systems at these echelons. The FBCB2 software suite, which re–uses and incorporates existing commercial and government software wherever practical, will meet the open systems standards found in the ATA. The FBCB2 software suite is also being developed for forward compatibility with the mainstream of commercial hardware and software developments in order to facilitate the insertion of new technology as the Army evolves to Force XXI. FBCB2 software will incorporate essential functions from the M1A2’s Inter-Vehicular Information System (IVIS) and from the Brigade-and-Below Command and Control (B2C2) prototype.

    Situation awareness is provided by collecting, integrating and displaying a common picture of the battlefield that is consistent in both time and space at each user display. Software being developed for FBCB2 situation awareness allows the geographical location of individual soldiers, weapons/platforms, command posts, and other operational facilities to be collectively presented on a display. Because the Army Tactical Internet is a true, seamless internet based on the world-wide Internet model, it is possible to communicate each individual geolocation to every FBCB2-equipped user within the Tactical Internet. Addressing mechanisms allow geolocations to be flexibly and selectively communicated, and situation awareness software functionality will contain the necessary filters and roll-up mechanisms for each user to be able to selectively display only the locations of units of interest.

    One of the methods by which operational control is achieved is through the transmission and receipt of orders, reports, and data in a timely manner. The VMF messaging function of FBCB2 software provides a key mechanism for effecting that exchange, using a set of 51 joint-approved VMF messages. Each FBCB2-capable system will have the ability to automatically or manually compose, edit, transmit, receive, and process either the full set of these messages or a subset which is specific to the mission profile of that system. The initial VMF message set of 21 messages was developed specifically for the TF XXI AWE and will be expanded for use in the Division XXI and Corps XXI AWEs. It provides the ability to communicate orders, reports, and data in near real-time over the bandwidth-restricted networks found at brigade-and-below echelons. The VMF messaging software also provides the ability to insert and extract data from these messages for automatic insertion or update of tactical databases.

    FBCB2 is a complex system involving over 1,000 computers in each maneuver brigade, all tied together in a single seamless network. Since it is not possible for this system to start up, operate, and gracefully degrade of its own accord under all conditions without human intervention, FBCB2 software will provide the capability to initialize, control, and conduct an orderly shut-down of the FBCB2 system. Capabilities will be provided in the areas of:

  • System Management: tasks such as loading network initialization data, maps, cryptographic keys, and network addresses prior to an operational deployment.
  • Communications Planning: tasks such as laying out networks, making frequency assignments, and specifying address/circuit assignments/procedures prior to deployment.
  • Network Administration: background tasks such as the monitoring and control of network resources and configuration once operations have commenced.
  • Network Management: real-time tasks such as dynamic network reconfiguration, timekeeping, and circuit deactivation during operations.
  • The FBCB2 provides a common database with automated friendly positional information. It also provides current tactical battlefield geometry for friendly forces as well as for known or suspected enemy forces. Collectively, the FBCB2 systems generate the friendly operating picture. It displays relevant information, showing the user's his location, the location of other friendly forces, observed or templated enemy locations, and all known obstacles. It also provides preformatted, standardized reports, allowing leaders to disseminate graphic overlays and written OPORDs and FRAGOs rapidly. The war-fighter receives data "pushed" from all other battlefield systems to maintain real--time battle information. These battlefield systems draw upon the reports and positional data passed on from the lower tactical internet (TI) to provide information at higher command levels. They push information such as location of adjacent units, known and templated enemy positions, graphics, and OPORDs down to the FBCB2 users.

    The FBCB2 screen displays an icon for each friendly vehicle in the company, which provides the BC with a clear picture of the BFV's location relative to the platoon. It also gives the platoon leader a picture of his location relative to the company.

    Though the system works automatically on vehicles equipped to operate on the TI, it does not provide locations to every friendly element on the battlefield. For example, the system will not automatically track a dismounted rifle squad operating at extended ranges from an M2A3. Also, it does not cover any non-digitally -equipped units or allied or coalition forces operating next to the platoon.

    Icons can be imported into FBCB2 for those elements, based on information received from FM radio reports, but the system will not update the icons in real time. Therefore, the leader cannot rely solely on FBCB2 to clear fires. No system can replace a leader's judgment in preventing fratricide.

    FBCB2 displays enemy information from both top-down and bottom-up feeds. The battalion S2 inputs enemy icons into the system based on spot reports (SPOTREPs) generated by the battalion task force (TF) scouts. Based on his analysis, the S2 augments these actual locations with templated positions in the form of a situational template (SITTEMP).

    As the platoon conducts operations, it adds to the enemy information by sending SPOTREPs of enemy activity and obstacles on FBCB2. When a BC sends a SPOTREP, he automatically creates an icon representing the enemy on other FBCB2 systems in the platoon. The platoon leader evaluates the validity of the report. Either he or the platoon sergeant forwards it to company, where either the commander or executive officer evaluates it for accuracy, then forwards it to the company's other platoons and to battalion.

    To keep the enemy information current, units must update SPOTREPs concerning enemy locations represented by icons on the FBCB2. Elements send updates whenever the enemy situation changes-that is, when they destroy the enemy element or when the enemy element moves. As the information associated with an icon "ages," the icon fades, eventually disappearing from the FBCB2 screen. Unit SOP should govern the icon "fade" rate.

    Functionality Implementation of FBCB2

    Applique Use of appliques is intended to provide C2 capabilities to platforms that either have no embedded C2 capability or whose existing capability is inadequate to meet emerging user requirements. For a platform lacking an embedded digital capability, it will be appliqued with:

  • Appropriate applique hardware.
  • FBCB2 software.
  • Position/navigation capability.
  • An interface to a SINCGARS and/or EPLRS radio.
  • Army Tactical Command and Control Systems ATCCS systems are in the process of migrating to the DII COE. Since FBCB2 functionality is also based on use of the COE, selected FBCB2 functional components will be provided for incorporation into ATCCS systems in the near–term. In the far–term, core FBCB2 functionality and other mission applications will be migrated to ATCCS systems.

    Embedded Systems Many Army systems have an embedded C4I capability, including the M1A2 Abrams, the M2A3 Bradley, the AH-64D Longbow Apache, and the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior. At a minimum, the Army plans to integrate FBCB2 software functionality into these platforms sufficient to generate and receive an appropriate subset of the VMF message set.




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