Offense Catching Up with Defense

By Rear Admiral Paul G. Gaffney II, U.S. Navy, and Dr. Ronald R. Luman

At the outset of the program, there was no accepted approach for assessing the military utility of ACTDs, although planners knew that neither classic developmental nor operational testing approaches were directly applicable. in addition, this was the first system-of-systems ACTD to field a major demonstration.

The testing approach blends three key elements:

  • Data analysis and analyst observations of live systems play in an operational environment
  • Structured collection of warfighter's impressions regarding systems' military utility
  • Modeling and simulation to extrapolate results beyond conditions achievable in live exercises.

Throughout the analysis, both a single-system and a system-of-systems perspective was maintained with regard to the novel systems. Rather than look at the demonstrations as having exit criteria or pass/fail standards, we looked for consistency with expectations when addressing the critical operational issues. Since the primary objective of the demonstrations is to assess military utility, system-performance considerations have driven the scenario and the data collection, and have provided a degree of synergism between the analysis, C4I, and JCOS development and utilization. Valuable lessons from the planning and analysis of Demonstration I have been applied to the detailed-planning phase of this summer's Demonstration II.

Demonstration I Overview

Although the exercise scenario included the usual geopolitical concerns of notional countries overlaid onto the Eastern seaboard of the United States, the JCM ACTD activities were confined to Camp Lejeune and Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

At Camp Lejeune, the beach landing area extended from Onslow South Tower to Riseley Pier—about one nautical mile. The beach south of South Tower was defended by a very shallow water (VSW) minefield and heavy mine/obstacle beach defenses, while the beach just south of Riseley Pier was defended by a separate, lighter mine/obstacle field. There was a gap in the VSW minefield, placed there for assault planners to find using new and existing reconnaissance systems. Across the intracoastal waterway, Training Landing Zone (TLZ) Bluebird and Exercise Training Area 2 (ETA-2) contained additional land minefields, including buried and surface-laid antitank and antipersonnel mines as well as off-route mines protecting anticipated assault force routes.

One of the more difficult challenges for Demonstration I was the ground rule that the ACTD would not interfere with operational work-up activities during the exercise. This condition was the primary consideration in defining two separate beach minefields separated by about 2,000 yards, to provide a landing zone against which the Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) [MEU(SOC)] certification assault could proceed, unimpeded by the threat of mines and obstacles.

At Fort Bragg, the airfield seizure and lodgment establishment took place at Camp Mackall's Luzon drop zone. Seven different minefields were emplaced in and around the drop zone; the fields incorporated both metallic and low-metallic, buried and surface-laid antitank and antipersonnel mines.

All of the exercise minefields were designed and emplaced in accordance with current threat doctrine and were validated by service and national intelligence agencies. Nine new systems, including four reconnaissance systems and five breaching/clearing systems, were evaluated. In addition, the demonstration developed an enhanced command-and-control architecture with its joint countermine application and joint countermine operational simulation.

Reconnaissance Systems

Littoral Remote Sensing (LRS). Optimizes the collection geometries of national systems and applies advanced algorithms to detect and locate shallow-water and beach obstacles as well as delineate meteorological candidates, topographic, and bathymetric parameters.

Magic Lantern (Adaptation) [ML(A)]. Uses a gated imaging laser to detect minefields and obstacles. The ACTD objective is to demonstrate a rapid capability to detect, classify and localize minefields and obstacles in the surf zone and craft landing zone. Although it was fielded on an SH-2F helicopter, an unmanned aerial vehicle probably could carry it eventually.

Airborne Standoff Minefield Detection System (ASTAMIDS). Uses passive infrared and active laser technologies to detect and identify the boundaries of patterned and scatterable antitank minefields; seeks to detect mines/minefields consisting of metallic and nonmetallic surface, buried, and patterned scatterable mines.

Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA). A UAV-based multi-spectral optical sensor system for detecting minefields/obstacles in the beach/craft landing zone region with potential inland applicability (flown on a light aircraft during the demonstration.)

Breaching/Clearing Systems

Explosive Neutralization Advanced Technology Demonstration (EN[ATD]). Consists of three explosive systems—line charge, surf zone array, beach zone array—and a fire control system. Only the fire-control system was fielded for Demonstration I.

Joint Amphibious Mine Countermeasures (JAMC). Clears mines and light obstacles from the high water mark to the craft landing zone in support of an amphibious assault, but not as the lead assault element. Employs remote controlled bulldozers with mechanical, explosive, and electro-magnetic subsystems in addition to visual and electronic marking devices.

Clausen Power Blade (CPB). Provides capability to clear antitank mines and heavy obstacles from assault lanes and wider areas. The system is integrated into an armored D-8 bulldozer with a standard angled cutting edge. It will be installed on a D-7 bulldozer for Demonstration II.

Close-In Man Portable Mine Detector (CIMMID). Uses a standoff infrared thermal imager, a confirming ground penetrating radar, and a metal detector to find surface and buried metallic and nonmetallic land mines. It is a developmental prototype model of the Hand-Held Standoff Mine Detection System.

Off Route Smart Mine Clearance (ORSMC). A tele-operated high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle that replicates critical signatures of target vehicles to trigger smart mines.

The demonstration integrated presently fielded and prototype systems as well as selected developing capabilities in command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) into the existing C4I architecture. Beyond developing a tailored architecture that would support providing a common tactical countermine picture throughout all levels of command, application software was developed that operates in a Joint Maritime Command Information System (JMCIS)/Global Command and Control System (GCCS) compliant environment as well as providing a Tactical Packet Internet Protocol capability. The application consists of a core joint countermine segment, tailored mission planning and evaluation segments, and an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance segment. The analysis and data collection approach used the C4I network as the primary automatic data collection source, which facilitated near-real-time analysis of measures of effectiveness and performance. This innovative approach saved the cost associated with systems data acquisition.

The modeling and simulation software package mimics full functionality of each new system and appropriate fielded military equipment in a distributed, interactive, training, and tactical decision-making simulation. It supports development of operational concepts, doctrine, tactics, techniques, and procedures; evaluation of concepts and novel systems for military worth, promotion of joint tactical training; and the conduct of operational exercises through injection of simulated entities via C4I connectivity.

Other countermine units and systems participated. The VSW mine countermeasures detachment, consisting of marine mammals, Naval Special Warfare, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, and U.S. Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance teams, was used to find the gaps or lightly mined areas in the VSW/surf zone minefield emplaced specifically for the landing. Their operations were closely coordinated with the new systems. In addition, the AN/PSS-12 hand-held landmine detector was used in conjunction with the Close-In Man-Portable Mine Detector for route clearance.

JTFEX 97-3 began on 18 August and was completed on 5 September 1997. With the exception of the reconnaissance missions, the demonstrations took place during the last few days. The beach and sea minefields were emplaced at Camp Lejeune between 4 and 8 August. Magic Lantern (Adaptation) and COBRA flew missions 9 through 13 August as a hedge against bad weather later in the month. LRS baseline collections began 30 June and continued through 4 September. Fort Bragg minefield emplacement occurred on 18 and 25 August and 1 September. The ASTAMIDS tactical flights took place at Fort Bragg on 25, 26, and 27 August. The ML(A) and COBRA tactical flights were flown on 28 and 29 August, around the same time the VSW mine countermeasures detachment conducted operations (27, 29, and 31 August). The airfield at Ft. Bragg was seized early on 2 September, and the amphibious assault night rehearsal was conducted on 4 September; D-day was 5 September.

Demonstration I was scripted, emphasizing live system play, with very little injection of forces and systems by simulation Because the operational planning staffs were not available far enough in advance, the developers' view of the operational concept was used in the demonstration—a good starting point, but the warfighters' generally innovative approach to using new capabilities was not leveraged. Although useful in gathering hard system performance data under operational conditions, the demonstration's primary focus was to solicit operator feedback on suitability, potential military utility, and to identify performance issues for resolution prior to bringing the systems back for the second demonstration, which is scheduled this month.

The U.S. Atlantic Command (the operational sponsor) has organized the lessons learned and applied them in turn to each identified critical operational issue.

Do the ACTD components individually and collectively enhance the capability of a JTF engaged in a joint amphibious assault and follow-on land operations to survey, recon, detect, neutralize, breach, mark, and clear mines, minefields, and obstacles?

With regard to beach mine/obstacle field reconnaissance, the LRS characterization was sufficient and timely. Although COBRA and ML(A) also detected the beach defenses, their products did not enhance the LRS characterization and contained minor inaccuracies that could have been counterproductive. Exercise artificialities, however, helped LRS to focus precisely on the Onslow Beach minefields; in a tactical situation, broad-area LRS reconnaissance would need to cue focused reconnaissance to a precise beach location.

Moreover, the on-scene commander in an actual operation would compete for national collection assets and thus would more highly value having command of such flexible local area reconnaissance systems such as COBRA and ML(A).

ML(A) detected one VSW mineline consisting of moored mines, but did not resolve the gap intentionally provided for the assault planners to discover. The VSW optical environment off Camp Lejeune was particularly challenging, thereby limiting the depth to which ML(A) could penetrate.

ASTAMIDS was unable to detect buried mines at Fort Bragg. The primary system was unavailable, hence a backup ASTAMIDS was used for the demonstration.

COBRA sensors detected antitank mines in ETA-2, but it did not declare a minefield, because the minefield density was insufficient to satisfy the system's minefield detection criteria.

The power blade cleared its tasked area of heavy obstacles and mines in less time than anticipated. Blade survivability against live ordnance still needs to be tested.

JAMC could not complete its clearance tasking against light obstacles and mines, and therefore did not demonstrate utility in its follow-on clearance mission. The tele-remote, marking, and mine rake subsystems were favorably viewed by the combat engineer battalion.

Because of a problem with its host Multi-Purpose Craft Air Cushioned (MCAC), the EN(ATD) fire control and autonomous controller did not operate during the primary landing on 5 September. Data gathered during the 4 September rehearsal indicated good performance, and analysis of its full system demonstration at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, on 25 September 1997, provided confirmation.

ORSMC's opportunity to demonstrate utility at Ft. Bragg was constrained by "freeplay"/tampering with ORM simulators, and poor reliability of ORM simulators. At Camp Lejeune, three of three working simulators were cleared. Further analysis regarding the impact of the incomplete threat representation by the ORM simulators is advised.

CIMMD was unable to detect buried mines at Fort Bragg. Although CIMMD detection performance was much improved at Camp Lejeune (approximately equivalent to the AN/PSS-12) the high false alarm rate greatly inhibited forward movement.

In conclusion, all the new systems except JAMC showed promise of enhancing present system-of-systems' capabilities, but further evaluation through participation in Demonstration II is recommended.

Do the ACTD components individually and collectively enhance the JTF commander's exercise of command, control, and planning to employ countermine technology in his area of operations?

The reliability of the interfaces established from the new systems to their local C4I nodes via Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNET) was satisfactory.

Tactical support established for the C4I network had some reliability problems involving the SIPRNET node at the littoral warfare training center and radio frequency net connectivity. The SIPRNET problems were administrative in nature while the RF net problem was caused by JAMC data saturation.

The lack of sufficient staff planning time inhibited the tasking, delivery and utilization of some reconnaissance products. Lack of a kickoff message and late staff assembly delayed dissemination of LRS products

The JCA reliability was good with the exception of the USS Inchon (MCS-12) installation, which required software reloads after attempting to load map data. They were unable to archive and save databases without locking up the system.

The amphibious group staff used the JCA extensively at the littoral warfare training complex to plan the amphibious assault and breaching operations.

In summary, automated/interoperable information access, management and transfer were successfully demonstrated, and the development, maintenance and dissemination of a coherent tactical picture were partially demonstrated. Moreover, the JCA enabled sharing of present and new systems' countermine reconnaissance products among various commands. For example, ML(A), COBRA, and ASTAMIDS each generated volumes of useful data that were integrated into a useful display of situational awareness with flexible filters and controls to help manage the data. Demonstration II is necessary to fully assess this issue and take advantage of planning lessons learned.

Do the components demonstrate the potential to meet the deployability, transportability, and logistics requirements of the JTF?

All the new systems can be transported to the battlefield, although those reconnaissance systems planned to be UAV-based have not all addressed packaging and platform interoperability issues. Also, the power blade mounted on the D-8 is at the upper limit of the MCAC load capacity, which restricts operations to very low sea states.

Demonstration I was one of the rare opportunities to exercise amphibious operations in a mined environment. The planning and execution of the amphibious assault at Camp Lejeune exposed some doctrinal difficulties that must be resolved in order to execute this type of operation with minimum casualties in the presence of a beach defended by a combination mine/obstacle threat.

Although tracking data quality was poor, indications are that amphibious assault vehicle lane keeping in mined waters is problematic, as is accurate placement/utilization of the Breach Lane Navigation System.

A variety of readiness and availability issues affected the LCAC, AAVs, CIMMD, ORSMC, and LRS.

Soldiers and Marines demonstrated the ability to use CIMMD and ORSMC.

During Demonstration II, more direct military involvement in systems operation will address this issue more effectively.

Can joint countermine operational simulation effectively model the ACTD components and support operations, exercises, planning, rehearsal, and analysis?

This issue was only partially addressed during Demonstration I; operational simulation is expected to have a much expanded role in Demonstration II, especially in support of staff planning and rehearsals subject to C4I bandwidth.

Preparations for MARCOT have included an expanded staff planning phase, which more thoroughly examines and integrates intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, C41, and JCOS—and assesses their impact on staff decisions. This was inhibited during Demo I because of the late assembly of component staffs and the compressed, scripted nature of the ACTD play. During MARCOT, each new system will be used in the manner determined by the planning staffs with much greater use of simulation, especially for presently fielded systems. MARCOT's early summer time frame offers an opportunity to leverage the staffs' and possibly the operational forces' experience with the first demonstration prior to the usual summer turnover. Finally, environmental and threat applicability of some new systems will be more fully considered by planning staffs because new systems training has included information on system sensitivities to these factors.

Demonstration II will use the staff planning process to integrate the new systems into the existing systems of systems, with the aid of JCOS and the enhanced command and surveillance capabilities brought by the ACTD. This will enable the users to develop optimized concepts of operations and provide a venue for a second look at those systems that played in Demo I, as well as a first look at the four systems that will be participating for the first time: the Advanced Lightweight Influence Sweep System (ALISS); Near-Term Mine Reconnaissance System (NMRS); Advanced Sensors; and the Army Classified Program (ACP).

Admiral Gaffney is the Chief of Naval Research. Dr. Luman is the Analysis Integrated Product Team Leader for the Joint Countermine ACTD at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.


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