PEO C3T Program Review & Vision Guide

SATCOM Systems Improve Situational Awareness for Mission Effectiveness  

By Kyle Bond, Symbolic Systems, Inc., supporting PEO C3T

Since the inception of the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army’s Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T) has been called upon to acquire and field the networked battle command solutions to enhance the warfighter’s perspective over vast terrains.

The digitized capabilities connected to the satellite communications systems provided by PEO C3T’s Project Manager, Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (PM WIN-T) are helping to give soldiers unprecedented situational awareness in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, WIN-T Increment One provides battalion-level-and-above warfighters with the ability to connect to the Army’s digitized systems, voice, data and video via satellite links. Residing on this at-the-quick-halt communications pipe are the Battle Command systems that allow warfighters to obtain real-time updates of other soldiers’ whereabouts over a topographical map, plan and execute fires, manage the airspace, and share information such as intelligence, weather and terrain. The future of the four WIN-T increments will increase bandwidth, enhance security and provide satellite communications on-the-move.

One popular system, Command Post of the Future (CPOF), is a digitized collaboration tool where commanders can access a real-time picture of the battlefield showing embedded data on a networked map system. Users can then share this information among separate systems, as well as through voice over Internet Protocol and instant messaging capabilities.  

“It is a huge advantage for a brigade TOC to instantaneously pass (maps and real-time information) to a separate battalion that’s a few hundred miles away,” said  1st Lt. Nicholas Beck of the 18th Fires Brigade. “For a commander, (CPOF) is a great planning and analysis tool. You have maps and overlays that you can use to show where your units are. You can plot reports of enemy fire on the map and pass it down to your subordinate unit, which they can all see and update in real-time.”

Added Master Sgt. Cynthia Provost, regimental S6 for the third Armored Cavalry Regiment, “CPOF is a winner.” During her recent deployment to Iraq, the regiment utilized the “very useful” tool for reporting significant activities and sharing intelligence briefs, she said.

A Soldier performs checks on a Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment One Satellite Transportable Terminal while at the National Training Center (NTC).  

US Army photo by Rich Mattox

In addition, CPOF provides a consistent data-set across various echelons within 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, said CW2 James W. Cowell. “It helps the regimental commander in that he knows that all these combatant battalions and squadron commanders have the same information.”

For CW3, Benjamin Talbert, 3d ACR’s signal systems technician, Force XXI Battle Command Brigade-and-Below/Blue Force Tracker (FBCB2/BFT) provided self-assurance of knowing where his enemies and “buddies” were during his missions in Iraq.

FBCB2/BFT is a system that tracks and displays friendly vehicles and aircraft that appear on a computer screen as blue icons over a topographical map or satellite image on the ground. Users can manually add red icons that show up as the enemy on the screen and are simultaneously broadcasted to all the other FBCB2 users on the battlefield. Other capabilities include creating, sending and displaying graphics such as bridges, minefields, obstacles, supply points and other battlefield hazards. Users can also send messages to each other similar to e-mail on the Internet.

“It adds a lot of confidence,” Talbert said. “Knowing that the SA (situational awareness) is real-time and it doesn’t stop with FBCB2. It’s air, it’s anything we can get our hands on, any type of feed we can get to. It benefits each unit, each company, each battalion and each solider when they are doing their missions on the ground.”