DIGITS TO PLATFORMS – US ARMY INTEGRATES BATTLE COMMAND AND CONTROL ON THE MOVE
By Scott R. Gourley
Among the military exhibits at the recent Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Winter symposium in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida were new command and control vehicle designs that were combat-proven during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Designated as Mobile Battle Command On The Move (BCOTM), the new vehicle configurations are designed to sever commanders’ traditional ties to static tactical operations centers (TOCs) by transferring their situational awareness digital data in an extremely mobile battlefield command platform.
The BCOTM platforms are being developed and integrated by the office of
Product Manager, Battle Command on the Move. That office, falls under
Project Manager, Tactical Operations Centers/Air & Missile Defense
Command and Control Systems (PM/TOCS/AMDCCS), within the umbrella of the
Program Executive Office – Command, Control, and Communications Tactical (PEO C3T).
The BCOTM platforms displayed at the symposium included two designs used during OIF: one version, called the Bradley Commander’s Vehicle (BCV), based on a modified M7 Bradley Fire Support Team (BFIST) vehicle; and one design based on an M4 Command and Control Vehicle (C2V). The C2V variant, which is based on the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) chassis, is a member of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle family.
According to participants in the latest program iterations, initial efforts of the current BCV design work focused on providing a mobile digitized TOC to the 4th Infantry Division’s 1st and 2nd brigade for experimental purposes only. The modified M7 BFIST vehicles were based on a an integrated “on-the-move” ditital foundation originally created for a Pandur vehicle, adding that the intent of the Pandur design, “was to participate in the DCX [Digitization Capstone Experiment] II exercise in order ‘to revitalize the Army’s requirement for a commander’s ground vehicle that enables execution of battle command and leadership un-tethered from static command posts. The objectives were to develop and demonstrate a light armored mobile surrogate capability that supports command and control on-the-move. Both the BCV and the Pandur were rapid response projects.”
It should be noted, however, that Army “digitized” experiments as far back as mid 1990s have included a range of increasingly sophisticated, specially-configured digital command prototypes, to include the M4 C2V as well as both Bradley and Abrams command vehicles, the Abrams variant being equipped with a “fake cannon” to retain a consistent battlefield signature.
Increasing global tensions in the fall of 2002 shifted the BCOTM emphasis from experimentation to combat as program participants converted five M7 BFIST platforms into tactical BCVs. System requirements mandated that the platforms be jointly interoperable and simultaneously host & integrate designed Battlefield Automation Systems (BAS) while moving. The vision was to provide the battlefield commander with the ability to employ Network Centric Warfare while away from the TOC.
The design mandates were based on the “Block I” specifications of the BCOTM Operational Requirements Document (ORD). That document, dated November 2002, addresses the immediate need for an initial BCOTM capability that optimizes fielded communications systems and equipment into common suites to enhance situational awareness and collaborative planning/execution for the commander. Integrated systems included: Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS); Air and Missile Defense Warning System (AMDWS); Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2); Maneuver Control System (MCS); and All Source Analysis System (ASAS).
Four of the five BCVs systems were shipped to Ft. Hood, Texas, where they were handed over to the 4 th Infantry Division. The fifth vehicle went to Yuma Proving Ground, for additional testing.
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