U.S. ARMY DEVELOPS ADVANCED COMMAND POST TECHNOLOGIES
By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE
The need for advanced Command Post technology was highlighted during the AUSA winter meeting with a briefing from Northrop Grumman and Brigadier General Philip Coker, Director, Capabilities Developments, Futures Centre HQ, TRADOC.
“For those of you who have fought battles in the dark, under fire in cold wet weather, the lay-out of one’s command post can make all the difference to the success or failure of a battle,” Coker said, “Many of us have entered CP’s and tripped over wires and machines thus blanking-out current force positions and manoeuvres. In addition, Commanders and Liaison Officers moving between forces will often come across different CP layout and systems. We believe that to achieve essential force performance in battle, all Command Posts must be built on a common platform and operating environment. Not only should the systems be common and centrally linked the Command Post itself should have no internal support posts which may exclude the commander’s vision of the developing battle. In addition we must ensure that these Command Posts are also available in aerial platforms whilst the Commander is visiting his forward echelons and in mechanised systems for advancing mechanised troops.”
The U.S. Army recognised the urgent need for new Command Post technology and in August selected Northrop Grumman Corporation as prime contractor for the Standardized Integrated Command Post System Command Post Platform (SICPS) Development and Integration Program. Valued at up to $400m over the next five years, the award includes an initial $26m contract for the design and construction of 10 prototype command posts.
Lt. General. Wallace of V Corps said, “Operation OIF underlined the urgent need for new command post technology. It was a disaster during OIF, give me a common set of sensors and the ability to plan collectively. In the past we spent 4-6 hours in the command post, now it can be as little as 10 minutes or even on the move.”
SICPS CPPs will be Standardized, Modular, Mobile Command Posts fielded from Battalion to Echelons above Corps, all equal in capabilities, common systems, seamless operations and standard training requirements. SICPS will give the Commander a fully integrated, digitized, interoperable command post from which to plan and execute Battle Command. The Command Post Platform is the key piece of the system. It is either on, or in, a Stryker, HMMWV, or M1068/M577 combat vehicle – i.e. the Platform – that our advanced C4ISR systems – currently in the field or being developed for future fielding – will be integrated. These software systems provide the tools for staff-centric analysis, information superiority, and command freedom of movement.
“How will the SICPS CPP help the Warfighter?” the Editor asked.
“Historically, the physical configuration of Tactical Operations Centers (TOCs) have generally been one of a kind propositions – each specifically built and tailored by the Command using them; so Commanders and Battle Staffs would constantly need to re-adapt and re-learn TOC operations whenever they entered another command post operation. SICPS CPP will give Warfighters a physical infrastructure populated with common computing and Battlefield Operating Systems to achieve standardized Battle Command capabilities. When they walk into a SICPS CPP TOC, they will be familiar with its capabilities regardless of the type unit or environment in which they now are operating. SICPS CPP TOCs will also be highly deployable and mobile, and much, much simpler and quicker to emplace and displace. Initially, SICPS CPP will be C-130 deployable, but objectively we will have a CPP for the Light Force that will be transportable by UH-60 Blackhawk, as well as air droppable,” Coker replied
Additionally, SICPS CPP is entirely digital with an inherent Local Area Net (LAN) that will be cabled initially and wi