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Improving Situational Awareness
in the Division Logistics
Command Post

The 1st Armored Division learned the value of logistics command and control systems through a series of mission rehearsal exercises. The Army Battle Command Systems let logistics commanders view the battlefield so they can support the battle as it unfolds.

Exercising command and control of logistics units that are supporting fast-moving combat units on a far-flung, asymmetric battlefield is one of the greatest challenges facing the division. Units operating in a digital environment must have the proper Army Battle Command System (ABCS) systems to provide the commander with a view of the battlefield. The 1st Armored Division logistics command post (DLCP) uses several ABCS systems that enable the commander not only to see his forces, the battlefield, and the enemy but also to anticipate logistics requirements.

Two brigades of the 1st Armored Division conducted mission rehearsal exercises last year at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (formerly the Combat Maneuver Training Center) at Hohenfels, Germany. These exercises, by the 2d Brigade Combat Team (BCT) in August 2005 and the 1st BCT in September and October 2005, gave the Soldiers of the 1st Armored Division Support Command (DISCOM) the opportunity to hone their logistics command and control capabilities using all of their battlefield ABCS systems.

Although the mission rehearsal exercise is a brigade-level pre-deployment training event, the Joint Multinational Readiness Center allowed the DLCP to conduct training as the brigades’ higher logistics headquarters. The DLCP conducted training on C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance), logistics synchronization, and battlefield distribution, which provided an excellent opportunity to test and improve the skills of the DLCP.

The experience of the 1st Armored DISCOM demonstrates the vital role ABCS systems play in establishing and maintaining logistics command and control. These systems are crucial to the work of the cells—C4ISR, logistics synchronization, combat loss regeneration, battlefield distribution (movement)—that make the DLCP, or division rear command post, function.

ABCS Systems

The ABCS systems the DLCP uses are the Battle Command Sustainment Support System (BCS3), the Defense Transportation Reporting and Control System (DTRACS), the Blue Force Tracker, the All-Source Analysis System (ASAS), and the Command and Control Personal Computer (C2PC). Here is a quick summary of what each system in the C4ISR/Fusion area of the tactical operations center (TOC) provides to the commander.

BCS3. This system supports the warfighting command and control and battle management process by rapidly processing large volumes of logistics, personnel, and medical information. It facilitates quicker, more accurate decision making by providing an effective means for force-level commanders and combat service support (CSS) commanders to determine the sustainability and supportability of current and planned operations.

BCS3 collects and processes selected CSS data in a seamless manner from CSS Standard Army Management Information Systems, DTRACS or the Movement Tracking System (MTS), radio frequency identification tags, manual systems and processes, and other related source data and hierarchical automated command and control systems (such as the Blue Force Tracker and the Global Command and Control System-Army).

Based on these inputs, BCS3 generates and disseminates near-real-time CSS command and control reports and responses to CSS-related ad hoc queries, updates its database (every 3 hours on average), and provides CSS battlefield functional area information in support of ABCS’s common operating picture of the battlefield.

DTRACS. DTRACS is a satellite-based truck- and rail-tracking capability. It is used primarily for tracking organic movements within the U.S. European Command area of responsibility and in Korea in place of MTS.

The DTRACS fly-away kit allows a unit to exchange text messages with vehicles on the road. This capability facilitates the creation of real-time traffic reports and route reconnaissance updates. The system allows logistics leaders on the move to maintain in-transit visibility of critical logistics. DTRACS’s messaging capability enables logisticians to reroute supplies using battlefield satellite communications.

Blue Force Tracker. Blue Force Tracker is a digitized battle command information system that provides on-the-move, real-time, and near-real-time information to tactical combat, combat support, and CSS leaders and Soldiers. Blue Force Tracker is a key component of ABCS and seamlessly integrates with the other components of ABCS at the brigade level and below. Blue Force Tracker supports situational awareness down to the Soldier and platform level across all battlefield functional areas and echelons. Blue Force Tracker also allows brigade- and battalion-level commanders to exercise command when they are away from their TOCs because they can interface with subordinate commanders and leaders who also are equipped with Blue Force Tracker.

ASAS. ASAS is an Army program to automate the processing and analysis of intelligence data from all sources. It is a tactically deployable, ruggedized, automated information system. It is designed to support management of intelligence and electronic warfare operations and target development in battalions, brigades, armored cavalry regiments, separate brigades, divisions, corps, and at echelons
above corps.

ASAS is a “linchpin” system for forming a seamless intelligence architecture between and across echelons. The architecture can be broken down into three major groups: sensors, processors, and communications systems. The systems within each group support simultaneous demands for intelligence and targeting information at multiple echelons. They support commanders from the tactical through the strategic levels across the range of military operations.

C2PC. C2PC is a Windows-based client software application designed to facilitate military command and control by improving situational awareness and enhancing operational- and tactical-level decisions. C2PC collects and assimilates information from other battlefield tracking systems (such as Blue Force Tracker and ASAS) to provide the commander with a clear picture of the battlefield. It uses a collaborative approach to enable information sharing among commanders and units on the battlefield.

DLCP Cells

The DLCP is composed of cells that provide critical planning and operational tracking using all of the ABCS systems.

C4ISR. The DLCP’s C4ISR cell is responsible for the DLCP’s battle rhythm. This responsibility includes managing the timing of all actions and controlling all communications into, out of, and within the DLCP. Battle update briefs are the primary synchronizing events that control the battle rhythm process.

The C4ISR cell is the integrator of all processes in the DLCP, and all DLCP personnel participate. An associated process occurs when the planning cell has to be stood up to support the military decision making process for the division.

The C4ISR cell uses all ABCS systems to obtain a reliable picture of the battlefield. Outputs of the cell include division logistics orders and command and control of assigned battlespace and all division logistics assets.

Logistics synchronization. The logistics synchronization cell is responsible for coordinating all CSS and combat health support requirements and for accomplishing all logistics missions for all CSS units in the division.

The cell identifies all CSS and combat health support requirements and measures them against capabilities and shortfalls 24, 48, and 72 hours out from division missions. The daily CSS synchronization meeting is the primary event that controls this process.

Primary participants in the logistics synchronization process include representatives of the movement control office, support operations office, division ammunition office, ground safety office, class IX (repair parts) section, property book office, CSS automation management office, division medical operations center, division G–1, and division G–4 and unit liaison officers.

The synchronization process is scheduled in relation to other DLCP processes in the DLCP battle rhythm. Synchronization has an associated process that occurs when the planning cell is stood up to support the division’s military decision making process.

The logistics synchronization cell mainly uses Blue Force Tracker, C2PC, and BCS3 to obtain the information it needs to perform its mission. Outputs of the logistics synchronization cell include a daily fragmentary order, published by the C4ISR cell, that is synchronized with the combat loss regeneration and battlefield distribution processes.

Combat loss regeneration. The combat loss regeneration cell is responsible for regenerating combat losses of both equipment and personnel. The regeneration cell monitors the combat readiness of the division’s assigned and attached units and works to increase unit readiness.

Regeneration is one of the requirements drivers for other logistics processes. Process participants include representatives of the G–1, G–4, materiel management center, property book office, and class IX section. The regeneration process occurs daily and is synchronized in the battle rhythm of the DLCP.

The combat loss regeneration cell relies heavily on input from logistics status reports, unit liaison officers, C2PC, and BCS3. The outputs of the regeneration process are the requirements that the logistics synchronization and battlefield distribution cells will use.

Battlefield distribution (movement). The battlefield distribution (movement) cell is responsible for synchronizing all movements among sectors and to and from forward operating bases in the division’s battlespace. The cell identifies and schedules all movements 24, 48, and 72 hours out for divisional and nondivisional units that move in the division’s battlespace. Battlefield distribution is linked to all other processes in an effort to find the best way to use transportation assets while also meeting requirements for force protection of combat logistics patrols.

Members of the cell include G–3, G–4, movement control office, division transportation office, support operations office, division materiel management office, and corps movement control team representatives and unit liaison officers.

The battlefield distribution cell’s ABCS contributors include C2PC, ASAS-Light, BCS3, and DTRACS. Cell outputs include a daily division movement matrix and division orders with force-protection requirements for combat units.

Military Decision Making Process

The military decision making process is accomplished by members of the DLCP battlestaff and participants from the different processes. The military decision making process is the sum of all of the other processes. The staff members who represent the DISCOM in the division’s military decision making process are the support operations officer and the G–4 planner.

The military decision making process occurs as needed. The output from this process is a division order or annex. It is followed by a separate military decision making process for the DISCOM that results in the DISCOM’s order for its subordinate units.

Logistics Command and Control Training

The 1st Armored Division DLCP used the BCT mission rehearsal exercises to create a training scenario for command and control of the division’s logistics support systems and then integrated those systems to furnish a common operating picture in the C4ISR cell.

By using the command and control systems, the DLCP tracked not only the logistics systems and convoys in the division’s battlespace but also the brigades’ combat operations and the Red Ball convoys that brought supplies from the posts where the units were stationed to the Hohenfelds Training Area. Tracking each repair part from a supply support activity to Hohenfelds became a primary focus of both mission rehearsal exercises as the fight continued and returning essential combat systems to the fight became a crucial mission.

The Red Ball convoys and Iron Bullet Express missions logged over 110,000 miles in 45 days. Soldiers on those movements also served as essential observers of conditions on the autobahns. They provided text messages through DTRACS that updated road conditions, which allowed later missions to try to find more expedient routes. The DLCP used the German traffic-monitoring Web site to get the most
up-to-date road conditions for all convoys before they left their starting points. The DLCP also sent text messages to the convoys alerting them to any accidents or traffic jams.

The ABCS systems fit into the processes by providing the DLCP staff with the information that they needed to see themselves, the battlefield, and the enemy. Inside the TOC, information was displayed on three projection screens in a standard setup so that everyone knew to look for the information in a standard configuration. This enabled the staff to rapidly detect problems or issues before they developed or before inaction delayed any potential solution so that it would be too late to help.

Armed with the ABCS systems and the processes managed by the cells, the DLCP developed into a very capable logistics command and control headquarters. The DLCP continued to refine its procedures and processes during three 1st Armored Division Iron Focus exercises in October 2005, December 2005, and February 2006. These division-level exercises were conducted in preparation for a division War-fighter exercise in 2007. In the Iron Focus exercises, the DLCP combined with elements of the division staff to form the division rear command post. All systems were exercised with division teammates present in order to develop the logistics estimate for the orders process. The DISCOM will continue to refine the processes through the upcoming division Warfighter exercise to ensure success for the 1st Armored Division.

The ABCS systems provide logistics commanders an unprecedented view of the battlefield, which will enable them to support the battle as it is being fought and anticipate future requirements. The systems allow commanders to see where the enemy can disrupt the supply chain and, most important, where the logistics commander can intervene to sway the fight in favor of victory.

Major James E.P. Miller is the S–6 for the 1st Armored Division Support Command in Wiesbaden, Germany. He served as the Deputy G–6 of the 1st Armored Division in Iraq. He holds a bachelor's degree in general science education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and is a graduate of the Army Command and General Staff College.