Integrating intelligent fires
Joint fires – in the form of artillery, mortars, air- and sea-based support, and more – can be the critical decider on the modern battlefield. Delivering a weight of fire in a battle is a key function of a fire support function. Precise, targeted fires can be more important – reducing an enemy’s capacity or capability before it makes it to the frontline by combining intelligence with a kinetic effect.
Being able to fire efficiently is a core part of modern fires, particularly as the ability to field accurate counter-battery fires has significantly increased on the modern battlespace. With the time taken to identify targets of interest shrinking as sensors proliferate, the need to sort planned and dynamic fires is critical to ensure the maintenance of a battlespace advantage.
Spinning in your seat
Typically, the staff of a joint fires cell will sit with two systems in place – a fires planning and execution system that helps with the targeting and conduct of fires missions, and a higher echelon C4ISR system that provides access to intelligence, situational awareness, plans, and orders.
Operating across these two systems requires a very active swivel chair, and a fires cell staff that can track intelligence streams and the disposition of friendly forces that are constantly being updated. Digitialisation of the fires process helps to significantly reduce the co-ordination burden, improve the efficiency of fires missions, and increase accuracy.
The delivery of intelligence data into a command post environment also gives more users the ability to gain a greater appreciation of the battlespace, and identify enemy forces and locations more quickly. Leveraging inorganic intelligence feeds that are not operated by an artillery formation means that the likelihood of finding high-value targets of opportunities is greatly increased.
For dynamic and time-sensitive fires missions, the ability to respond to these targets can allow for a degradation of an enemy’s force multipliers. Exploiting time-critical intelligence into the fires chain requires superior intelligence gathering, alerting, and collaboration skills.
The SitaWare solution
Users of SitaWare have the ability to integrate their fires operations into the command environment. Deploying the SitaWare Fire Support Module with SitaWare Headquarters allows joint fires cells the ability to integrate their operations with the staff of a command post. In using the same battle management platform, actors within the command post can interact more easily, exchange information and intelligence more readily, and reduce the burden on fires and operations staff.
Plans for fire support missions can be created and shared with fires teams, as well as with operations staff and other users across the battlespace. The drafting, formatting, and delivery of plans can be done using standard templates. Their digital delivery directly into the BMS environment means that there are significant improvements in transparency about the delivery of kinetic effects, reducing the risk of friendly fire incidents as situational awareness in improved.
The SitaWare Fire Support Module can also be deployed with the tablet-based SitaWare Frontline in vehicles, with gun teams, and by forward observers. Utilising the same operating environment, planning and operations staff within a headquarters are also able to track the position, availability, and inventory of their fires assets, ensuring that the best effect can be delivered. Plans, fire missions, and the common operational picture (COP) can also be readily shared and updated to disparate fires units, ensuring improvements in operator safety.
From a force protection standpoint, being able to share a COP means that fires assets can be more mobile. As counter-battery effects on the battlefield improve, the need for mobility increases. Greater mobility enables greater safety of fires assets and improves their longevity as a resource. Automatically calculating and calibrating each fire mission to an asset’s location further ensures that mobility does not create an accuracy trade-off.
Leveraging the full power of the intelligence cycle
Systematic’s newest product, SitaWare Insight, can further help unlock intelligence to deliver operational efficiencies for the fires workflow. Working in a headquarters’ operations and planning cycles, SitaWare Insight helps to deliver the intelligence cycle’s products rapidly and efficiently to a command staff, while deploying technologies such as computer vision and big data analysis to identify enemy assets, positions, and intentions.
Staff working within a Joint Fires Cell can leverage these intelligence products to maximise the utilisation of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) assets, and further find targets of opportunity on the battlefield. Alerts based on the detection of possibly enemy equipment or formations can help commanders and fires teams understand the threat landscape and work to further impede an opponent’s capabilities or frustrate their freedom of movement.
Operating a single C4ISR platform such as SitaWare has a number of other benefits – from a common user interface and simplified training, to secured communications and interoperability. Integrating intelligence, operations, manoeuvre, fires, and planning allows for a more efficient battlegroup, improved combat effectiveness, and an operational advantage over an opponent.
We will soon be hosting a webinar about fire support and how command-and-control systems can be a force multiplier for dispersed units.
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