Mobile Command Post Operation – Operation Iraqi Freedom C4ISR Lessons Learned part V

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There is one important item in communications, which was overlooked for some time, due to fast developing technologies- the ability to monitor, simultaneously, several communications channels by the same commander, in popular parlance “eavesdropping”. The advantage of FM radios afforded this through auxiliary receivers in regular AFVs. However, according to reports coming out of Iraq, the current ABCS do not provide this ‘luxury’. As a division commander mentioned in his after action report:


“I saw more of the fight than I expected to be able to see from my Command and Control Vehicle (C2V). Enabled with satellite based communications my assault command post was mobile, responsive, connected, and allowed me to be where I could best influence the fight anywhere on the battlefield. In the digital environment of my headquarters, the Common Operational Picture provided exceptional situational awareness because of our joint interoperability with higher headquarters.

For example, through the eyes of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), transmitted by Global Broadcasting System, we could observe an enemy artillery battery firing on our troops, and then coordinate over Tactical Voice and single channel TACSAT for its subsequent destruction by Air Force, Marine, or Naval aircraft in close support of the ground campaign”.
At corps level the warfighting picture was sometimes remarkably clear, however lower command echelons complained that subordinate leaders on the tactical level were struggling with the limitations of their static, terrestrial based networks. Despite the introduction of Battle Command On the Move (BCOTM) capabilities that higher command levels enjoyed in assault command post (CP), the vast majority of tactical leaders and CPs were still allocated too few on- the- move capabilities. Most were tethered to a larger CP and mostly dependant upon line of sight (LOS) communications.

Case in point: At the corps level the G2 could see individual fighting positions defending a critical bridge because they had a UAV leading the vanguard formations. But this valuable real-time could not get down to the unit which was taking the objective because all the CP’s were moving. It was a deliberate attack at the corps level, but a movement to contact at the battalion level.

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