Ditch the swivel chair
As the number of ISR and fires assets multiplies on the battlefield, managing the demands for fires missions in a headquarters environment comes with increasing situational awareness challenges.
Additionally, survivability on the modern peer and near-peer battlefield relies heavily on mobility. Armour, infantry, and fires assets move regularly to reduce the efficacy of an opponent’s fires and ISR capabilities, which makes managing position information a critical task.
Having to switch between multiple battle management systems, from operational and manoeuvre planning systems, as well as task-specific systems such as fire support and electronic warfare management systems, requires a very active swivel chair and superior multi-tasking capabilities. For a fires co-ordination cell, managing a constantly refreshed Common Operational Picture (COP) with fires support mission management is a complex task.
Add in a need to manually transfer and manage data between a fires management platform and a C4ISR operations platform, and the risk for potentially catastrophic errors starts to creep in. This is where operating a single digital C4ISR platform across planning and operations teams can help reduce risk, improve efficiency, and enable mission success.
A single digital platform
Operating a single, unified C4ISR platform means that enhanced accuracy and precision can be given to planners and troops in the field. Platforms such as SitaWare Headquarters and SitaWare Frontline help to give commanders at headquarters or in a mounted environment unrivalled situational awareness through a high-fidelity COP.
Within a digitised command environment, positions can be recorded and updated automatically on computer-based map. This allows for the easy monitoring of friendly force tracks (FFTs) and known enemy positions to be plotted, which helps to enrich the COP.
Adding in intelligence data from the Recognised Intelligence Picture (RIP) also supports greater situational awareness for all involved in an Area of Operations. For troops on the ground and fires units, this information can greatly reduce the risk of fratricide, allow for covering fire to be delivered against anticipated threats, and enhanced defensive awareness to be delivered.
Plans and orders are also developed and delivered electronically, allowing commanders from headquarters down to the platoon level to understand the battlespace, their role, and their position on the battlefield. Digitising the planning and orders phase adds accuracy and removes vagueness, with positions and a commander’s intent clearer to stakeholders.
Information-sharing stovepipes are also removed, with users able to rapidly share their tasking, positions, and availability with each other. For fires assets, this can include letting operational commanders know what assets are in place for planned or dynamic fires – ensuring that troops on the ground have the best support when needed.
Improving the fires workflow
Employing the SitaWare Fire Support Module into a user’s SitaWare suite means that the digitisation of the fires mission begins at an earlier stage, and the data is shared more readily with a wider number of stakeholders earlier.
In reducing the requirement for voice transmissions over a fire support network, the risk of inaccuracies is dramatically cut, as the information needed for a mission is first plotted digitally on a map. Plans, data, and target co-ordinates are more easily fixed on a map, and can also be supported by multiple target designation systems to improve accuracy and operator safety.
This data transfer among users is supported by Systematic’s specialist communications protocol, SitaWare Tactical Communication, that ensures the prioritisation of messages within a radio network, even on older analogue sets or in environments severely degraded by electronic warfare.
Figure 1: The number of steps where the manual transfer of data takes place in a traditional fires request increases the risks of potentially fatal errors.
The digital fire mission is then placed into the context of the broader operational environment and can be integrated into intelligence and operational plans more easily. A fires mission can also benefit from improved access to intelligence and target acquisition assets, providing commanders with a more reliable go/no-go on a fire mission.
Figure 2: Integrating fire support co-ordination software, such as the SitaWare Fire Support Module, with the BMS reduces the number of steps in a fire mission, improving operational efficiency.
Communicating across joint forces and coalition partners is also simplified by Systematic’s support for a wide variety of data exchange standards. This means that tracks, targeting data, plans, and missions can be easily shared with operational partners, and are not hampered by incompatibility issues, additional swivel chairs, or a need to go through additional co-ordinators.
As a result, incorporating a combined fire support software solution into a command post BMS allows for fewer uses of the swivel chair, meaning that there are fewer opportunities for errors and delays in decision making to creep in.
To find out more about SitaWare Fire Support Module, you can visit the product page here, and download the flyer here. For a deep dive into the importance of fires on the modern battlefield, please click here.