November 19, 2012
David Eshel Tel Aviv
In a world where many have smartphones that can vocalize directions to the nearest pizza parlor, having situational awareness of your own military forces may sound trivial and antiquated. But in combat—especially, albeit ironically, urban combat—it is by no means a simple task.
The prerequisites for operational command, control and communication (C3) systems are identification and recognition capabilities for blue and red—i.e., friend or foe—on the same user system. Not surprisingly, many approaches to C3 wrap in computers and intelligence to those systems, for better situational awareness known as C4I.
At the 2012 Fire Conference on Air and Land Jointness in a Complex Environment, held in Zichron Ya'acov, Israel, high-level Israeli military officials discussed their needs and the direction they see for C4I in hybrid and irregular warfare.
Maj. Gen. Uzi Moscovitch, head of the Israel Defense Force's (IDF) C4I branch, went into detail concerning the future challenges his branch faces, along with what the future holds for improving command and control in the army. Emphasizing the importance of new technologies, the challenge is to convey a precise map reference from a weapon sight and superimpose it accurately on a tactical-level location aid or a mapping layer so it may be made a target. “What we need is a precise and standardized map reference—a 10-digit resolution as a minimum reference and a 12-digit resolution as a desirable objective,” he said.
Operating in an era of increasingly urban warfare, precise map references are imperative, and a lack of them could lead to dangerous fratricide among friendly troops, or even civilian deaths and loss of public support. According to Moscovitch, the operational challenge is that “every operational C3 system should support each one of the primary efforts: intelligence, logistics, situational awareness, command, maneuvering and employment of firepower. As for the issue of situational awareness and command, there are essential prerequisites for operational C3 systems that constitute the base layer of any system.”
Israelis have worked hard to find better solutions as they have been entangled in several hybrid combat engagements in recent decades, but it has not been a linearly smooth learning process. The introduction of the Digital Army Program, also known as Tzayad, for instance, enables a wide range of networking and joint operations, but they can easily lead to dangerous overload, if they are not controlled at various command levels.
Another significant challenge involves connecting and interfacing disparate systems. The communication medium should be both reliable and adequate. Although mobile abilities will never match the standard of fixed stations, efforts should be made to reach maximum flexibility and continuous control on the move, officials say. Yet, most modern communications gear demands high levels of bandwidth and must be carefully controlled to prevent clogging the network.