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augusti 14, 2020

SitaWare C2 System used in the corona crisis


The headquarters of the 10th Armored Division has been investigating the introduction of the new SitaWare digital command-and-control information system for some time now. In the Franconian town of Veitshöchheim, however, nobody suspected that the new system would one day be able to assist with the deployment of Bundeswehr soldiers during a domestic crisis, as in the case of the Corona pandemic.

This article was originally published by the German Bundeswehr, they have kindly permitted us to share an English version.  Please find the original article here.

To date, the German Army has used the ‘Heer’ Army Command and Control Information System to conduct national operations. Despite constant updates, this system is now considerably outdated and the SitaWare Headquarters software is now to replace it. This offers extended options for planning and conducting operations, and provides a comprehensive common operational picture. The new software will significantly improve the army's command-and-control capability: one click on the digital map and the operations centre will tell you how many soldiers are deployed at which location and on which mission.

Even in a multinational environment, the command-and-control capability can be significantly improved because SitaWare can be connected to most systems in a relatively uncomplicated way. In addition, more and more NATO members are introducing SitaWare to their armed forces. An essential element of SitaWare is therefore the increased interoperability of multinational armed forces. Nowadays, few armed forces conduct purely national missions - it is therefore necessary to provide data from their own systems to those of other armed forces.

Like a Swiss Army knife

Under operational conditions, the Army is already using SitaWare Headquarters on NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence mission in Lithuania, for which Germany is the so-called framework nation and is leading a multinational formation. There, SitaWare provides commanders with a detailed common operational picture that is shared with allied forces, especially the Lithuanian Land Forces. Lithuania’s three mechanized infantry brigades are also equipped with SitaWare Headquarters and SitaWare Frontline. In addition, Lithuania is currently procuring 84 new Boxer combat vehicles (known as ‘Vilkas’, meaning Wolf), which will be equipped with SitaWare Frontline.

Since the SitaWare Headquarters software is as versatile as a Swiss Army knife, it can also be used in non-military scenarios. Now that all subordinate units are equipped with the corresponding hardware, especially the servers, it was easy to implement the Division Commander's order to test the new system in the COVID-19 situation centre with the advent of the Corona crisis. "We simply tested it," reports the head of the division's IT information technology department, Lieutenant Colonel Marcel Günther. It was quickly established that "it can also be used without restriction in a civil-military situation and, above all, can show off its advantages if it is neatly structured, i.e. if an accurate and up-to-date operational picture can be obtained within the organizational levels through bottom-up reporting".

Organise administrative assistance more quickly

Within a truly short time, a regional command staff had to be established in Veitshöchheim. Among other things, it had to compose a common operational picture of all units, so that all requests for administrative assistance can be captured and processed more quickly. Applications for administrative assistance can be submitted by civilian institutions such as district and health authorities, the Red Cross or the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) if they require support from German army soldiers, for example in transporting protective material or at corona test stations for traffic control.

The operators are particularly impressed by the user-friendliness: "This is a system that not only the administrators like, but above all the users," notes Günther. The modern software can be used intuitively, which means that click fields and buttons on a clearly structured user interface are self-explanatory. Users can operate the system after just a brief introduction. The information is available promptly at all levels, and with the required depth of representation.

Next test: “Kalter Wettiner” exercise

The rollout for the 10th Armored Division has been successful: "We now exclusively use SitaWare Headquarters for command post work at division and brigade level," Günther notes with satisfaction. In November, The 37th Panzergrenadier Brigade ‘Free State of Saxony’  plans to prepare for 2021 with its ‘Kalter Wettiner’ exercise at the Army's Combat Training Centre in the Letzlinger Heide. Then the brigade is to be certified for its mission as a NATO ‘Very High Readiness Joint Task Force’. The SitaWare Frontline system will be used for the first time in the army, down to the sub-unit level. This means that each combat vehicle is equipped with SitaWare and provides the overall system with detailed data about its local situation, therefore delivering a bottom-top operational picture and providing an all-encompassing overview.  

By Alexander Wittig

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