Command and Control Systems at the Modern Day Marine Expo

Command and Control : MDM provided an interesting insight into the advanced command and control systems developed for and by the USMC. The centerpiece of the C4 display was provided by General Dynamics C4 Systems, demonstrating the future Command Operations Center (COC) for the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Command and Control center, as well as the latest communications, information processing and distribution applications. Dismounted C2 systems and Command and Control On-the-Move (COTM) were demonstrated by a number of exhibitors. Another facet of C4ISR discussed here was image intelligence – different providers demonstrated innovative applications, including unattended ground sensors, GPS cameras operated by patrols, elevated mast-mounted payloads etc.

The Marine Combat Operations Center (COC)

Numerous COC are employed by US Marine Corps Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) units deployed in Iraq and more systems are being delivered to support other units operating worldwide. Of 271 systems ordered, GD has already delivered 102. The COC is designed for rapid deployment, using trailers mounting a power and environmental support unit, with another trailer packing all servers, routers and other communications and networking support. Outside at the main display at the exhibition grounds at Quantico, a large tent accommodated a typical Combat Operations Center (COC) was erected. The display provided a unique insight into the Marine Corps’ current and future command and control elements comprising the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Command and Control center.

Networking inside the COC utilized high speed Ethernet or wireless networks, using the Secure Wireless Infrastructure System (SWIS) developed by General Dynamics (GD) Information Technology. SWIS operates Secure 802.11 wireless LAN solution to extend wireless connectivity to high security (NSA Type 1 encryption) applications, including field deployable military command and control. Further exploiting this secure wireless connectivity, GD is offering a number of military oriented computing devices supporting
internet, email, chat, phone video streaming and conferencing. Typical devices include the GoBook VR mini laptop, GoBook tablet PC and pocket PC devices.

GD C4S also demonstrated its latest digital radio switching system at the COC. The Distributed Scalable AccessNet (DSAN) a Voice over IP (VOIP) softswitch facilitating intercom support and seamless connectivity through network-connected radios. DSAN can be implemented on stand-alone access points or as an overlay on standard workstations, enabling users equipped with DSAN applications or monitors to control multiple radios transceivers, conduct phone conversations and conferences (supporting the H.323 industry standard) contacting local users on the intercom, from a single
user-interface.

The live display also provided an insight into the company’s field deployable command and control solutions. A typical application for the COC is the Marine Air Ground Task Force Command and Control (MAGTF-C2) center. Within the MAGTF-C2 environment, information is integrated, aggregated and distributed from disparate C2 and ISR systems to users at all echelons – ranging from the command center to the individual soldier. The MAGTF-C2 concept allows for visualization of a complete air/ground picture, improving Marine planning and execution, while supporting joint forces interoperability. The system utilized General Dynamics C4Systems’ common viewer, facilitating three-dimensional air/ground views and two-dimensional collaborative environment developed for the US Army style ‘Command Post of the Future” (CPOF) system. CPOF applications will be introduced in the standard COC in upcoming months, and are expected to substatianlly improve work efficiency at the COC through collaboration and maintenance of constantly updated COP. Such applications could also be shared, to a limited extent, with command and control of combat elements on the move, considered for deployment in the upcoming months.

In a different display Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and the Office of Naval Research introduced a collective display of their Joint Battlespace Viewerm (JBV) developmental effort, a 3D visualization program providing a whole-earth representation on a modern PC. Users can view any spot on the Globe, with image resolution of up to 10 cm. These images can be integrated with 3D models and layered information. The present demonstration included live video from UAV embedded in real-time onto satellite imagery. JBV is already used by the First Marine expeditionary Force (I MEF) in Iraq.

SelectFocus Tools

In another display associated with the future combat operations center, GD C4Systems outlined the benefits of advanced image processing applications for Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) support, using the company’s SelectFocus applications. These include the SelectFocus Mosaic video mosaicking application, creating a ‘panoramic’ image in near-real-time from pre-stored or live video sequence. Through processing, SelectFocus compensates for camera translation, rotation and illumination variations generating a coherent image. The system’s output is translated into standard image format, hence dramatically reducing the amount of data (or bandwidth used).

A different application, called SelecFocus Image conducts smart compression of high resolution images, facilitating image distribution over ultra-low-bandwidth communications channels (suitable for basic Iridium channels bandwidth of 2.4 kbps). This application uses a modified JPEG 2000 image coder compressing images with multiple Regions of Interest (ROI). These sections are defined by the analyst and preserved with optimal detail and resolution throughout the compression process. To ease collaboration between analysts the system integrates IP-based transmit and receive functionality for one-touch image transmission and text messaging to any
networked user. SelectFocus applications are being considered for integration in the COC environment by 2008.

Other command and control elements were highlighted by Northrop Grumman. The
company is offering Windows-based applications designed for standard PCs, enabling users at different echelons to create and share a Common Operating Picture (COP) across multiple workstations, in stationary, moving and dismounted combat environments and among multiple agencies. The company developed the Command and Control PC (C2PC) platform enabling USMC users to create and share tactical information and integrate it with information accessed through COP from the Global Command and Control System (GCCS) server. A subset of the system is implemented on Windows Mobile, the Command and Control Compact Edition (C2CE). This Personal Digital Assistant (PDA)- based device enables mobile users to share and edit the COP, while supporting local functionality such as reporting users position, location, navigation and situational awareness.

Command and Control on The Move

Lockheed Martin is developing a fleet of mobile operations centers called C2AMMO, focused on enabling C2OTM for a variety of missions and users, including military, federal and commercial applications. The vehicle can support commanders at all echelons, facilitating network access, sharing a broad common operating picture, or used as a self-sustained network node, support local operations and small units, for example, a platoon leader’s command vehicle supporting dismounted troops with local communications, cross-unit collaboration and access to higher echelon network.

The system is integrated in a Hummer H1 testbed, integrating computing, tactical radio,
wireless data (including 802.11 wi-fi, 802.16 WiMAX and secured 802.11 WLAN) and satellite communications systems. The vehicle carries low-profile on-the-move SATCOM terminals operating in the Ku and L band. The commander’s workstation consists of a detachable tablet PC, which automatically synchronizes with the network when dismounted to ensure operational continuity. Testing and evaluation of C2AMMO systems began in 2006, and in 2007 the system already participated in several joint-forces exercises including Joint Fires, and the Air Assault Expeditionary Force exercise
planned for fall 2007. Different C2 On-The-Move application integrated in a HMMWV was demonstrated at MDM 07 by DRS.

500SE-M GPS Enabled Tactical Camera

In June 2007 Defense Update covered the USMC use of compact digital cameras on patrols to collect and support generating HUMINT and IMINT intelligence through routine patrols. At MDM 07 Geo Tactical Solutions introduced a GPS embedded camera offering many details making reconnaissance and intelligence collection and report preparation a simple and intuitive process. Offering a complete geo-tactical solution, the 500SE-M GPS cameracomes in dust, drop and a waterproof impact resistant package with a large 2.5″ screen showing the images taken with superimposed grid position. This information is recorded and stored with every picture taken. After the mission, images are downloaded and processed on a laptop. The report wizard coming with the package, tracks all images plotting the mission’s trail, from GPS track-log ‘breadcrumb’. Each image automatically provides a hyperlink viewed on Google Earth or the military equivalent FalconView. The selected images are imprinted with relevant metadata and embedded into reports.

Other topics covered in this review:

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