Army, Air Force, and allied forces further shape the configuration and capacity demands of the naval services.

Communications to and from ships are constrained by the limited space available for antennas and equipment and by the fact that such hardware is built in. As a consequence, ship communications suites are not readily reconfigurable to meet changing needs and, in general, a ship’s communications capability is largely fixed from the moment of deployment for wartime operations or routine peacetime presence missions. Additionally, antenna placement is a crucial factor because shielding by the superstructure, the motion of the ship induced by high seas, and even routine course changes can adversely affect communications connectivity.

Amphibious ships pose a special case. These vessels of course have the communications and information needs characteristic of any warship. Additionally, the requirements of embarked Marine units, which are wholly dependent on host ships for planning and executing landing operations, must be reflected in the design of amphibious ship communications suites and information systems.

For both routine peacetime deployments and combat, Marine Corps units are organized in Marine air-ground task forces (MAGTFs) in a form and in numbers that depend on the anticipated situation and mission. Once ashore, a MAGTF may be the sole ground element present or it may operate in concert with U.S. Army or coalition forces. During its movement from ship to shore and once established there, the MAGTF employs its own organic communications and information resources to link to Navy ships at sea and to neighboring land forces, if present. As time passes and dependence on immediate fire and logistics support from the sea diminishes, the MAGTF communications architecture takes on a form not unlike that of the Army, with ties to adjacent land force elements and higher-level commanders in theater.

Just as a MAGTF organization is tailored for a particular mission, the communications and information systems to be employed are specially shaped as well. Subject to lift constraints on the weight and cubage that can be transported during an operation, the Marines can and do supplement standard allowances of communication equipment to meet the requirements of the tactical situation the MAGTF expects to encounter. In general, therefore, Marine units are not subject to the kind of built-in communications limits of Navy warships. However, the special needs generated by new tactical concepts, such as Operational Maneuver From the Sea (OMFTS) make reliable connectivity a very real challenge and clearly call for enhanced capabilities.

Because of tightly coupled lift, communications, fire support, and logistics dependencies, it is hard to imagine the Navy and Marine Corps operating in a forward area in isolation from one another, although they may well operate independently of Army and Air Force units under some circumstances. Increasingly, however, naval forces must fit into a greater joint forces construct, and this, in turn, requires enhanced communications to assure connectivity with other

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement