Army's portable command post connects expeditionary forces

The Army, like other elements of the military, increasingly has to be prepared for expeditionary deployments—small forces sent out to the field on short-term, specific missions. One key to that is a command post that can travel with them.

That’s what the Army is developing with what it calls expeditionary sustainment commands, or ESCs, which are deployable command posts with the flexibility to adapt to the mission at hand, whether a humanitarian mission, as a forward command post in a troop deployment or as a joint task force headquarters, the Army said in a release. The modular command posts also can operate independently or network with each other.

The ESC is another way of extending the operational picture from a maneuver commander out to troops in the field, something the Army has been working on in a variety of ways.

The service’s Expeditionary Command Post Capabilities project has developed several other portable command posts, including the Light-Mobile Command Post for forces at the brigade level and below, the vehicle-based Combined Arms Battalion Mobile TAC for heavier units, and the tent-based Expeditionary Battalion Command Post, which, while resembling a more tradition field command post, can be set up in about 30 minutes.

The currently active ESCs are aligned with Army corps: the 3rd ESC with the 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, N.C.; the 13th ESC is with III Corps at Fort Hood, Texas; the 19th ESC with the Eighth Army in Korea; and the 593rd ESC with I Corps at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

But they’re also able to support troops outside of those assigned areas. The 593rd ESC, for example, is assigned to the U.S. Pacific Command, but many of its units are available to forces around the globe, supporting missions outside of the Pacific Command’s area of responsibility.

The deployable command posts are being used with the humanitarian assistance survey team, the early-entry command post (EECP), and the main command post. The home-station command post is called the sustainment operations center.

One hitch so far with ESCs has been a lack of communications equipment, as the expeditionary signal battalion that supports its communications has not always been available, the Army said. But the Army is working around this with a broadband global area network (BGAN) antenna and a secure Internet Protocol router network/non-secure IP router access point ground satellite terminal.

ESC, as part of the EECP, is being tested this year in Japan as part of a joint training exercise.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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