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STATEMENT BY
MAJOR GENERAL STALDER
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
DEPUTY COMMANDING GENERAL FOR I MEF

BEFORE THE
HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE
SUBCOMMITTEE ON TERRORISM, UNCONVENTIONAL THREATS AND CAPABILITIES

ON
OCTOBER 21, 2003

CONCERNING
I MEF C4I DURING OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM

 

Mr. Chairman and members of the House Armed Services Committee, thank you for this opportunity to appear before the committee to discuss the First Marine Expeditionary Force's experiences and observations from Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).

I. INTRODUCTION

As discussed in previous Marine Corps testimony to the House Armed Services Committee, the I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF) is structured according to Marine Corps doctrine as a Marine Air/Ground Task Force (MAGTF).  The MAGTF consists of four integrated elements; a command element, a ground combat element, an aviation combat element, and a combat service support element.  I MEF is composed of the MEF command element, the First Marine Division, the Third Marine Air Wing, and the First Force Service Support Group.  This combined-arms team trains as a MAGTF, deploys as a MAGTF, and is employed across the spectrum of conflict as a MAGTF.  The MAGTF is an inherently flexible, scalable force that can be sized to meet any contingency.  The MAGTF that participated in OIF consisted of the MEF's four organic subordinate commands, listed above, and expanded to include the 1st (UK) Armored Division, Task Force Tarawa (formed around 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, from Camp Lejeune, NC), the 15th and 24th Marine Expeditionary Units, the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit Command Element, the 1st MEF Engineer Group, and several attached units from the United States Army.  In its totality at the height of OIF, I MEF consisted of over 86,000 Marines, sailors, and soldiers.  During OIF, I MEF was directly subordinate to the Combined Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC - 3d US Army).  Despite the size and complexity of this force, I MEF's success during OIF once again reinforced the flexible, scalable nature of the MAGTF concept.

II.  MAGTF COMMAND AND CONTROL

C4I is first and foremost about people and enhancing their ability to accomplish the mission in a complex, rapidly changing, and dangerous environment.  The Marine Corps' view of Command and Control (C2) is based on the common understanding that all Marines have of the nature of war and our warfighting philosophy.  It takes into account both the timeless features of  war, as we understand them, and the TTP's, processes, and hardware available to prosecute the battle.  Our doctrine provides for fast, flexible, and decisive action in a complex environment characterized by friction, uncertainty, fluidity, and rapid change.  Since we recognize that equipment is but a means to an end and not an end in itself, our doctrine is independent of any particular technology.  In fact, the cornerstone of MAGTF C2 is not equipment at all, but rather the individual Marine.  No amount of technology can reduce the human dimension of war.

Central to this doctrine are the concepts of the single battle, mission-type orders, and integrated planning.  The single battle concept provides a focal point for MAGTF planning and execution; it emphasizes that all elements of the MAGTF engaged in either the deep, close, or rear fight execute according to the MAGTF Commander's desired endstate.  Mission command and control relies on the use of mission-type orders, by which commanders assign missions and explain the underlying intent (Commander's Intent), but leave subordinates as free as possible to choose the manner of accomplishment.  Mission C2 leverages centralized, integrated planning and decentralized execution at the maneuver unit level.  Integrated planning includes subordinate command planners in the MAGTF planning team to ensure a common understanding of the mission requirements and thorough coordination.  It leverages limited planning time to allow disparate elements of the MAGTF to plan concurrently.  These central concepts empower subordinate commanders to exercise maximum initiative, capitalize on situational opportunity, and maintain the tempo of MAGTF operations. 

III.  C2 SYSTEM HIGHLIGHTS

Effective MAGTF C2 systems are characterized by their flexibility, ability to support expeditionary operations, robustness and redundancy, interoperability, and the ability to provide reach-back to organic, theater, and national agencies.  Development of an effective system will result in shared situational awareness of the mission, the enemy situation, friendly actions and locations and the environment.  This merging of shared information is often referred to as a Common Operational Picture (COP).  It allows greater initiative, speed, and freedom of action.

Command and Control systems effectively employed during OIF were able to convey Commander's Intent, disseminate orders, reports, overlays, and intelligence, and support constant communications among and between the MEF Commander, his subordinate commanders, and higher and adjacent units.  Detailed planning between elements of the MEF staff and the subordinate commands enabled stable and redundant communications throughout the conduct of OIF, despite unprecedented network complexity and operational distances.  Specifically, the MEF C2 architecture easily incorporated Task Force Tarawa, and the 15th and 24th MEU's into a cohesive whole.  Combining the well-planned and scalable architecture with proven tactics, techniques, and procedures, I MEF C2 supported the successful accomplishment of the Marine Corps' mission during OIF. 

In order to support these C2 systems, the MEF and its major subordinate commands incorporated several recently fielded communication technologies.  Among these were the Secure Mobile Anti-Jam Reliable Tactical-Terminal (SMART-T), the Tactical Data Network (TDN) gateway, the Digital Technical Control (DTC) facility, and the Deployable KU Earth Terminal (DKET).  Overall, these new technologies were a great success story and contributed significantly to the MEF and Major Subordinate Command (MSC) Commander's ability to command and control forces in combat. 

The SMART-T, a HMMWV-mounted mobile satellite terminal, designed and fielded to provide a satellite communication path to the regimental level, exceeded all expectations.  With this expeditious satellite terminal, regimental commanders were able to stop, set up, and establish secure tactical phone connectivity with the Division Commander, often within 10 to 15 minutes. 

The employment of the TDN/DTC combination and its inherent multiplexing capability enabled the MEF to establish the most complex and extensive communication architecture the Marine Corps has ever employed in combat.  From the start of combat operations on 20 March 2003 to the cessation of major combat operations on 1 May 2003, this system completed 2.5 million tactical telephone calls, over 240 video and audio teleconferences, over 700 video TS/SCI video teleconferences over the Joint Military Intelligence Communications System, and innumerable secure and unsecure e-mail transmissions.  Leveraging these new communications technologies, the MEF Commander was able to conduct twice-daily teleconferences with his subordinate Commanders, and the MEF Staff was able to conduct numerous daily video teleconferences with CFLCC (our higher headquarters), and with the MEF Home Base Staff at Camp Pendleton. 

The TDN/DTC combination also facilitated the Secure Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNET), which supported the MEF's primary Command and Control Applications, including the Global Command and Control System (GCCS), the Intelligence-Operations Systems (IOS), and Command and Control PC software (C2PC).  One great leap in capability the MEF gained since the days of Desert Storm was the addition of Blue Force Position-Location Information (PLI).  Unit PLI, when aggregated across the force, showed the location of selected units in real time, permitting commanders at all levels the ability to watch the battle unfold.  GCCS, IOS, and C2PC received and processed data from Blue Force Tracking (BFT) devices such as the Marine Corps' Mounted Digital Automated Communications Terminal (MDACT) and a system called MTS-2011, both of which produced unit blue force PLI.  This data, when added to the enemy position-location information delivered by the intelligence community, was the basis for the COP for the MEF. 

Additional intelligence dissemination was accomplished through the use of the Trojan Spirit II (TS), which was fielded down to the regimental level.  TS enabled the regiments to carry with them a rapidly deployable Secure, Compartmented Intelligence communications system with which they could pull theater and national data and analysis products that would have otherwise been unavailable.  

Complimentary to the Trojan Spirit was the Global Broadcast System (GBS).  This system relieved the burden on our transmission and data networks by providing additional bandwidth, thereby enabling the MEF to receive various intelligence products such as real time video and imagery products.   

Other warfighting information was disseminated between the MEF, higher headquarters, and other commands via web-based technologies.  This information, including operational orders and overlays, daily intelligence data, and reports, provided the common information framework for the MEF.  This critical technology lowered internal friction by reducing required reports and allowing warfighters to focus on leading Marines instead of answering requests for information from higher headquarters.   

I also want to highlight one of our big successes, which was the creation of a deployable MEF Combat Operations Center.  This center provided operational flexibility to the MEF commander and fulfilled our C2 requirement for a mobile, expeditionary, survivable, and effective command post. We are working with our Systems Command who helped us construct this command post to incorporate lessons learned into our program of record, the Unit Operation Center (UOC).

Marine Command and Control must be expeditionary in order to succeed.  Traditionally coming from the sea, the Marine Corps has never conducted sustained combat operations so far inland.  Our Command and Control facilities and equipment required tactical and operational mobility greater than that previously envisioned or expected and performed remarkably well under the extremely harsh environmental conditions of Kuwait and Iraq.  Particularly noteworthy were the sustained performance of our satellite and terrestrial transmission systems.

Interoperability of our C2 systems was critical due to the joint nature of this operation and the introduction of UK forces. One application that greatly aided interoperability across the joint force was the use of C2PC software.  This software, which displays and manages the COP, creates and disseminates operational overlays and other graphics, and provides a common baseline for warfighters, was deployed at every echelon of command from CENTCOM down to the individual Battalion to include UK forces.

The robustness of our network allowed us to establish reach-back.  Reach-back is the ability to use the communication network to draw critical information from sources far from the forward edge of the battlespace.  Reach-back, to both airfields and command posts in Kuwait and national assets in CONUS, was a requirement for the MEF command element.  It was planned for and incorporated into the overall MEF C2 architecture.  This robust communications architecture engineering, and availability of SATCOM (i.e. commercial and military) greatly increased our reach-back capability.  This gave us the edge by enabling support from our home base at Camp Pendleton, CA and national agencies in CONUS.  Future operations will require a greater need for satellite communications and expanded use of both military and commercial satellite systems.  Our recent fielding of the Lightweight Multi-band Satellite Terminal (LMST) provides us with the capability to leverage both commercial and military satellite systems with a single terminal.

IV. C2 SYSTEMS IN EXECUTION

I MEF validated its C2 philosophy and systems architecture prior to combat operations through the conduct of three Command Post Exercises (CPXs).  Exercises Lucky Warrior 1 and 2, and Internal Look thoroughly tested our C2 architecture and systems in simulated combat conditions in the CENTCOM AOR.  More importantly, they helped I MEF develop the close working relationship required for combat with our higher, adjacent, and attached units.   

Although we planned, established and refined the most complex and advanced C4I system the Marine Corps has ever used, it remains clear that our best "C2 System" was our Marines.  Upon reaching our staging areas, I MEF sent liaison cells (including operations, fire support, and intelligence Marines) with communications and C2 equipment to our attached UK forces, our adjacent Army units, and our Higher Headquarters.  These trusted liaison officers fulfilled the critical role of communicating the MEF Commander's intent at all echelons.  In particular, the liaisons to the attached First UK Division brought robust C2 systems and communications support that provided the primary method to communicate situational awareness data, such as the Common Operational Picture (COP), cleared intelligence products, and all the other benefits that a complete connection to the SIPRNET brings.  These liaisons also provided real-time friendly force Position-Location Information (PLI) to the UK Forces.  This data, overlaid on the UK's own paper-map based processes, provided the common Situational Awareness required across the force.  Finally, these liaisons provided a crucial targeting intelligence function both to and from the UK.  It is clear that no C2 system can take the place of a Marine who won't take no for an answer. 

During major combat operations, the MEF Command Post maintained operational tempo by displacing three times, moving a total distance of 700 kilometers, while never losing positive Command and Control of assigned forces.  In fact, our C2 systems were so robust that we easily passed command and control functions from Jalibah, Iraq to Commando Camp, Kuwait during the worst Iraqi sandstorm in 20 years.  As further evidence of our flexible C2, the First Marine Division Command Post moved nineteen times during combat operations.  Meanwhile the Third Marine Air Wing established twenty-two Forward Arming and Refueling Points and supported six airfields in both Iraq and Kuwait simultaneously. The Force Service Support Group conducted six Command Post Displacements.  Finally, Task Force Tarawa and both 15th and 24th MEUs were well integrated into the force and conducted similarly effective operations throughout their battlespace. 

Logistics convoys traveled over unprecedented distances in this theater, stretching our C4I architecture to its physical limits.  As an example, reaction forces were in some circumstances limited by the range of line-of-sight communications.  Logistics operations were supported by a combination of Iridium satellite phones, Blue Force Tracker Systems, and an extensive terrestrial communications infrastructure built as the MEF moved toward Baghdad. 

V. OBSERVATIONS

The Marine Corps installed, operated and maintained the largest and most complex C4 architecture in the history of the Marine Corps, which required 80% of the Marine Corps' communication assets and augmentation of commercial satellite resources. These assets supported both Marine Corps and British coalition forces.  The scheme of maneuver, distances covered and speed of advance imposed significant demands on all echelons of the MAGTF and required a reliable and flexible command and control architecture.

The overall consensus from commanders at every level was that communications worked very well.  Most noteworthy was the sustained performance and reliability of many of the newly fielded communication systems despite an extremely challenging environment.  Critical data services were provided using the newly fielded Tactical Data Network (TDN) and both voice and data circuits were routed using the Digital Tech Control (DTC) facility.  With the increased demand on beyond line of sight communications systems such as Iridium Satellite phones and the TRC-170 radio systems, the newly fielded SMART-T provided critical bandwidth within the MAGTF.  The SMART-T in particular was essential in providing voice and data services between the Division Headquarters and subordinate units.  Most of these systems remained on line for the entire duration of the operation from the initial deployment of forces through combat operations and retrograde.

The systems providing the COP were critical in unifying situational awareness information across the MEF.  However, these systems began to reach their limit.

Specifically, as the number of tracks increased to beyond several thousand, our systems began to get saturated.  The Global Command and Control System (GCCS) must be upgraded to accommodate the increased number of tracks.

Combat Identification (CID) remains problematic, but it continues to be our top concern.  The MEF continues to have an enduring requirement for an active Combat Identification (CID) system that enables our Marines to identify friendly forces from foes or non-combatants at the point of decision.  CID components are distinguished from those systems that provide Battlefield Situational Awareness in that CID must be applied to each Marine and vehicle and work from the shooter to the potential target.  CID must have both an air-to-ground and ground-to-ground component.   We must continue to press for an end-to-end joint solution.          

Another system employed was the MTS-2011, Blue Force Tracking device, which allowed adjacent Marine, Army and UK units to see the current position of adjacent units.  While the MTS system was a success because of its satellite-based communications pathway, it uses commercial satellite and encryption capabilities that are pending National Security Agency (NSA) certification.  As a result, it could not be seamlessly integrated into our COP.  Therefore, MTS-equipped units could only see other MTS unclassified feeds, eliminating their ability to see classified track data.  

The M-DACT, our program of record for blue force situational awareness/blue force tracking, provided a secret high capability and visibility of the entire COP. However it was dependent on the Enhanced Position-Location Reporting System (EPLRS), which is  a line of sight data radio.  Due to the size and scope of the MEF operational area and the rapid advance of our maneuver units we exceeded the line of sight capabilities of the EPLRS network.  Because of the vital role EPLRS plays in our tactical data network, we are developing a beyond line of sight EPLRS bridge called the Ship-To-Objective-Maneuver (STOM) Bridge.  This bridge will extend the reach of this vital tactical data network.   In addition to this effort the Joint Requirements Oversight Council has directed the Army to lead a joint effort to identify the most effective and efficient means to achieve Joint Blue Force Situational Awareness (JBFSA).  The Marine Corps is actively involved with this effort and heads the programmatic development efforts to support this initiative.    

As operational planning commenced it became evident that the network being developed would require the latest in computing technologies.  We had new systems (e.g. TDN) being fielded with commercial components that required upgrading to satisfy our expanded requirement from the original specifications.  Too often, the length of time to field a new piece of hardware is excessive.  We must continue to refine our acquisition process to increase its flexibility to accommodate new technology enhancements and changing requirements. 

Like all US Forces undergoing transformation, the MEF is getting more digital with every passing day.  This transformation requires us to also transform how we train our Marines to keep pace with these advancing technologies.  Training our Marines must continue to be the priority as we move forward into this dynamic net-centric environment.  Our Training and Education Command recently established a C4 Center of Excellence to provide a training continuum for our Marines to keep pace with the advancing technologies.

Digital communications  on the move is another area that captured our attention.  Specifically, mobile units require Situational Awareness and threat intelligence data. Equally stressing is the digital divide, the line between those larger units that have large bandwidth satellite connectivity and those disadvantaged smaller units that have only line of sight communications.  The Future fielding of SATCOM systems like the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS), Transformational Communications, and Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) will help reduce the Digital divide between those forces at the MEF and Major Subordinate Commands, while providing much better data to those maneuver elements that need it most at the fighting edge.

Significant progress has been made and continues in the joint requirements arena to develop joint concepts of operations and architectures - that's the good news.  However, a number of difficult legacy interoperability challenges still remain to be overcome.  Here are a few examples we faced, but successfully conquered through some hard work and compromise.  The Theater Battle Management Core System (TBMCS) allowed the MEF and 3rd Marine Air Wing to process the Air Tasking Order (ATO) in real time.  Having visibility on individual missions permitted a greater control of the effects of airpower, delivering better results more quickly.  While this system provided a dramatic improvement from Desert Storm in the ability to disseminate, view and manipulate the ATO, TBMCS was not completely integrated with other fire support systems.  Specifically, ATO information was inconsistent between air and ground systems.  Additionally, TBMCS was difficult to set up and use.  Also, the Army's All-Source Analysis System (ASAS) did not share intelligence information with the Joint-standard USMC's IOSv2.  As a result, the USMC had to field an ASAS terminal into our intelligence section in order to effectively share and exchange information.  Further, the CFACC used a third system, the Intelligence Targeting System that was not fully compatible with either the Army or Marine Systems.  Similarly, AFATDS, a system designed for fire support at the Division level and below, was pressed into service as the primary fire support system at the CFLCC level.  At Corps and above level, AFATDS functionality is limited by system design.  Instead the MEF used ADOCS to get the functionality the MEF required. 

Operating with our coalition partners offered unique challenges as well.  Although the current coalition information sharing system of choice (i.e. CENTRIXS) allowed us to exchange information, technical and procedural obstacles impaired our operational effectiveness. We must continue to pursue multi-level secure solutions that allow us to seamlessly operate with our coalition partners in the future without requiring multiple networks.  The alternative is to provide them access to our classified networks. 

VI.  SUMMARY

The application of C4I contributed to the success of I MEF during OIF.  More than any other contributing factor, this success was due to the efforts of individual Marines and the proven tactics, techniques and procedures developed over time.  Once again, our best C2 system was our Marines.  The combination of our systems and people allowed for better Command and Control, shared Situational Awareness, a faster operational tempo, effective destruction of known enemy elements, and rapid victory.  As we continue to find ways to improve systems interoperability and reduce acquisition times, we will further enhance our effectiveness in joint and combined operations.


House Armed Services Committee
2120 Rayburn House Office Building
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