TCS Daily

The Core at the Future of Warfare

By Duane D. Freese - March 26, 2004 12:00 AM

When Gen. Douglas MacArthur gave his farewell address at West Point in 1962, he told cadets that his "last conscious thoughts would be of the corps, and the corps, and the corps."

A graduate of West Point today heading into a military career might rephrase that. For his or her first thought in entering in future battle is likely to be the core, and the core, and the core. The core is the intelligent communications network -- a new global information grid (GIG) of fiber and satellite being built worldwide -- that will allow Army corps and divisions and brigades to work together seamlessly with the other branches of the military as one team.

As Heritage Foundation defense specialist James Jay Carafano noted recently, "The centerpiece of defense transformation is linking disparate systems into a 'system of systems' that integrates sensors, decision makers, and operational units. This network-centric approach to military campaigns will place an even greater emphasis on joint operations: the coordinated use of land, sea, and air forces."

This doesn't lessen the need, Carafano points out, for survivable platforms -- be that platform a soldier, a tank, a plane or a ship. But the key to future military success will be the core -- the network, the GIG. It is what will give the soldier, the tank commander, the pilot and the ship's captain and their commanders the ability to bring new, more mobile, more flexible weapon platforms to bear on the enemy.

Lightness -- reducing tanks, for example, from 68 ton behemoths requiring transport by ship or placement in forward areas to 20 ton vehicles transported by plane -- is the key to rapid deployment of 48 to 96 hours, instead of 30 to 60 days. Coordination of new platforms and weapons is the key to ensuring they retain the lethality of the older heavier platforms. And training -- the ability not only to individually use the lighter weapons and tools of military transformation but tactically as part of a single team -- is the key to achieving military success.

Indeed, the Army has come to realize that training is so important that it has taken the unprecedented step of embedding both individual and collective training capability in Army acquisition. Such capability helps allow training be continuous and ubiquitous throughout the military, as it must be to deal with the single constant in warfare -- change. Change is even more of a reality of modern warfare than it is of modern life.

As Major Gen. John M. Curran, director of the Army's Future Center for Training and Doctrine Command pointed out in testimony before the a Senate Armed Services subcommittee on March 11: "We've learned in the harsh combat conditions of Afghanistan and Iraq that change is both essential and possible for us (the Army) to improve as a robust member of the U.S., joint warfighting team. ... We must employ improvements in weapons and techniques across all warfighting dimensions to make engagements more precise and lethal. These challenges, however, require more than just material solutions -- we need new formations."

Such new formations -- or transformations - don't result in a final product.

"Transformation has no end state -- it is a continual process," Curran told the subcommittee. ... The goal is to continually strive to spiral mature capabilities into the current force so that over time our Army more closely resembles the vision of the Future Force."

Talk about a distance learning problem. Consider the difficulty the military faces in continuously upgrading the skills and abilities of its regular forces along with the reserve and national guard forces that back them up and fill them in with rapidly changing technology and tactics?

Yet doing so pays huge dividends both in the success of campaigns and the lives of soldiers that can be saved.

When military units in Iraq demonstrated the "decisive merits" of Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) training, Lt. Col. Ken Wheeler, product manager for live training systems in the Army's Program Executive Office of Simulation, Training and Instrumentation, said, "MOUT training capability [was] transported to such hotspot areas as Kuwait and Afghanistan, so soldiers can keep their skills fresh."

"Placing portable versions of MOUT training systems in-theatre in Kuwait is an amazing accomplishment," Jim Blake, deputy director of PEO STRI, told Military Training Technology. "We were able to provide that system in 39 days, from development to installation and test."

The network -- the core -- can make the delivery of such transformation not take a month but perhaps just days. It can allow the military, every time it puts a new device in place or finds a new tactic, to adapt it across all units and all platforms with training in how to use it both individually and tactically. But such fast adaptation can occur only if a fully integrated training system is in place, gathering all the information from the various human and vehicle platforms, for the training.

That need is why a sliver of transformation -- a program called One Tactical Engagement Simulation Systems, or OneTESS -- is so vitally important to the military's overall transformation plans.

OneTESS will replace the 30-year-old Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System
(MILES). It will not, the Army says, be an upgrade. MILES, noted OneTESS project director Mike Bergman, is "all line of sight." It does not support most modern smart weapons systems guided by real-time information in the field.

So what will it be? It will be an extension, or arm, of the GIG, connecting the Army's training centers, but more importantly, it will be an application over the GIG that eventually will link up units from all the branches in the field.

Sound a little fuzzy? A better idea of what it entails will come out next month (April), when the, the Army will choose between AT&T and Science Applications International Corp., which are putting together competing proposals for OneTESS.

Up until now, while "the government has a concept in mind of how we can do it," Bergman said, "I am encouraging SAIC and AT&T to come up with alternative ideas."

The result, though, promises to be something far beyond what even the most action oriented video gamer could imagine. Every platform in an exercise will have an Internet Protocol address that will interact with Central Command and others in the GIG.

Much like General Motors OnStar system can remotely open your doors, track your vehicle if stolen, notify emergency services in case of an accident, OneTESS can communicate with platforms, only constantly, not at the press of a button.

It won't merely track but also inform soldiers, tank crews and other players what everyone else is doing, seek out anomalies or problems, and inform people when a decision is needed.

All of that rests on making the network -- the core -- intelligent, able to manage the reams of data from any device in the fields and deliver to soldiers the training they need to win battles and commanders with the knowledge of their capability to win future wars.

None of this will happen overnight. OneTESS isn't expected to be operational until 2008, and transformation of the military will stretch over the next two decades. But what will make it at all possible will be an intelligent network -- the core, and the core, and the core.


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