SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Marine Corps have put forth a new construct for naval strike forces that distributes forces more widely in order to better enable forward deterrence and rapid response. In recognition of the importance of the new construct for naval strike groups and its dependence on command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR), the Department of the Navy requested the Naval Studies Board of the National Research Council to conduct a study to examine C4ISR for future strike groups. In brief, the tasking for the study was as follows:
Assess the C4ISR capabilities of each type of strike group,
Recommend a C4ISR architecture to be utilized in major combat operations,
Identify promising technology trends, and
Examine organizational enhancements to enable the recommended architecture.
With regard to the first of these requirements, the Committee on C4ISR for Future Naval Strike Groups assessed the C4ISR capabilities of the strike groups, but it did not focus sharply on the specifics of today’s compositions—in part because they will evolve, but also because the clear challenge is a C4ISR architecture to support any potential composition of future strike groups.
With respect to the second requirement, the study approach has been two-fold. First, the committee identified systems or system concepts for cases in which there appears to be a credible solution, and it offers possible technical approaches where no such solution has yet been proposed in order to meet critical shortfalls in current C4ISR capabilities. Second, the committee identified basic, foundational principles that the C4ISR architecture needs to meet.
Regarding the third task, the investigation of technology trends led the committee into consideration of technologies for composable and adaptable architectures (composability and adaptability are defined below), key technologies currently being applied to communications, and potential technologies for meeting critical intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) needs.
And, regarding the final task, organizational enhancements are necessarily a focus of the study because of the management challenge inherent in creating a C4ISR architecture for naval strike groups.
This study complements the Naval Studies Board’s recently released FORCEnet Implementation Strategy,1 which is recommended to broaden the reader’s perspective.
KEY FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Finding 1: Future naval strike group capabilities in major combat operations can be significantly improved through network-centric operations that draw C4ISR systems more prominently into the kill chain.
The value of C4ISR to naval strike groups is best measured in terms of its contribution to warfighting, and C4ISR is becoming central to naval strike groups’ combat capabilities. C4ISR is not just an enabler of more-efficient and -effective operations, but it provides the information and the command and control essential to the success of operations. U.S. forces could be defeated if the C4ISR on which they depend does not materialize or perform adequately. Once-clear distinctions between C4ISR and combat systems are blurring. New concepts of operation enabled by network-centricity will draw C4ISR systems more prominently into the kill chain and will improve such warfighting measures as the mission-cycle time (time to find threats, attack targets, and assess damage).
Recommendation 1: The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) and the Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC) should pursue the development of network-centric operations for critical warfighting capabilities and manage C4ISR developments within that context.
Consonant with their stated visions, the Naval Services need to explore and apply network-centric concepts in improving their warfighting capabilities. The committee recommends that the application be done mission by mission to develop specific metrics. These metrics all must then be examined as part of the complete network-centric capability exploration. Network-centric operations for the air and missile defense missions are under way with cooperative engagement capability (CEC). It should be noted that a future joint capability will likely not be based on CEC as it stands today. Network-centric concepts for strike warfare are ripe for development. Network-centric undersea warfare requires more conceptual development to help solve fundamental detection problems.
Finding 2: The current ISR capabilities of naval strike groups have a shortfall in persistent ground and sea-surface surveillance. Navy and Department of Defense (DOD) programs in progress will improve these capabilities significantly but will still leave gaps.
With national and Service assets, the military has demonstrated the capability to strike fixed ground targets reliably, precisely, and with little risk to U.S. or allied forces. The nation’s adversaries have recognized the vulnerability of their fixed assets, and so today it is relocatable, hiding, and moving targets that challenge the nation’s strike capabilities in major combat operations.
The Naval Services contribute significantly to the nation’s strike capability, and their ability to sustain presence in-theater is an advantage. However, the relatively few collection platforms organic to naval strike groups, especially expeditionary strike groups (ESGs), and the shortfalls in the groups’ abilities to connect to and process data from joint and national systems limit their effectiveness against relocatable, hiding, and moving targets.
Recommendation 2: The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) and the Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC) should (1) continue their support of planned ISR programs, (2) increase investment in the development of unmanned air platforms, (3) leverage the Space-Based Radar program, and (4) tap the potential of networked strike aircraft for ISR.
The Navy should continue its plans to develop the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Multi-Mission Aircraft, and Aerial Common Sensor. These platforms will provide information to enhance ground and sea-surface pictures significantly. Airborne ISR investments should be protected as aviation budgets are strained in future years to pay for the simultaneous production of multiple tactical aircraft.
The Navy should increase its investment in organic unmanned air platforms for naval strike groups. The Navy should prepare to transition into development a carrier-based unmanned combat air vehicle from the current Joint-Unmanned
Combat Air System (J-UCAS) demonstration program, and it should explore short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing or vertical-takeoff-and-landing UAV options for use in an ESG. The Navy should conduct research and experimentation on innovative concepts for ground-launched airborne platforms for persistent surveillance, such as ultrahigh-altitude, long-endurance UAVs and lighter-than-air airships.
The Navy should participate very actively in the DOD’s Space-Based Radar program, ensuring that naval requirements for land and sea surveillance are factored into the program’s cost-effectiveness design trade-offs.
Finding 3: Current ISR capabilities of naval strike groups have a shortfall in sensor tasking and data exploitation. The Distributed Common Ground Station-Navy (DCGS-N) now under development will improve this capability significantly; it is the natural host in the future for additional needed improvements over and above the current program, particularly improvements involving automated data processing and interpretation. To distribute its strike groups more widely around the globe, the Navy will have to rely more frequently on reach-back, which DCGS-N will also facilitate.
Today the time required for sensors to respond to a commander’s tasking is typically too long for tactical utility, and the commander has few tools for recognizing deficiencies in the tactical picture. Also, ISR systems today produce a collection of information products from a disparate set of uncoordinated national, theater, and naval sensors. The potential knowledge to be gained from these sensors is rarely achieved. Tactical commanders and their staffs have neither the numbers, the skills, nor the tools to recognize the relevance of these reports and interpret them.
The DCGS-N will greatly enhance future naval strike operations. Over and above what the current DCGS-N program will bring, a greater degree of automation will be required in the future to improve the tactical commander’s ability to task sensors and exploit their data. Naval strike groups spread more widely over the globe will find it necessary to rely more frequently on reach-back to help commanders cope with the flood of information available from current sensors and systems under development. The DCGS-N is the natural place in which to incorporate new capabilities and facilitate reach-back.
Recommendation 3: The Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition (ASN[RD&A]), CNO, and CMC should initiate programs for improving tasking and exploitation that (1) implement a closed-loop ISR capability, (2) fuse multisource data, (3) optimize ISR platform and sensor use, (4) assist in target recognition, and (5) reside in DCGS-N, with reach-back to other DCGS nodes.
The committee recommends that the Navy and Marine Corps develop a closed-loop tasking-exploitation-tasking ISR information system that learns from accumulating data over multiple observations, accruing and assessing evidence to determine if further tasking is needed. The system should apply automated upstream fusion of data from national assets to allow earlier association of emitting and non-emitting target signatures. It should optimize the positioning of ISR platforms and real-time sensor pointing to maximize the probability of target detection and identification. It should also feature automated image processing (highly detailed template matching) at optical, infrared, and synthetic aperture radar wavelengths to allow cueing by image analysts to make a final decision. Finally, the DCGS-N implementation should incorporate the above features but should also facilitate reach-back to well-equipped and well-staffed central facilities for tasking and exploitation support.
Finding 4: Current ISR capabilities of naval strike groups have a shortfall in the detection and tracking of quiet submarines in littoral waters. Navy and DOD programs in progress will improve these capabilities somewhat but will still leave significant gaps.
Antisubmarine warfare is moving toward greater reliance on distributed off-board sensors and vehicles owing to the limited search rates possible with organic sensors on manned platforms, particularly in adverse littoral environments against small, quiet diesel electric submarines. A network of distributed autonomous underwater sensors has the advantages of large-area coverage, covert operation, and tolerance of individual node failures.
Today’s distributed sensor arrays rely on passive acoustics and fiber-optic cable to send information back to operators for detection and classification. But reliance on cable makes it difficult to deploy the surveillance arrays rapidly and covertly on the ocean bottom. Furthermore, long cables connecting to shore are subject to trawling and other human-made measures that can limit their survivability. New methods of deployment and connectivity are needed.2
Recommendation 4: The Chief of Naval Research should conduct research and experimentation on (1) concepts for distributed, networked autonomous underwater sensors and (2) the concept of using the Long Range Mine Reconnaissance System (LMRS) unmanned undersea vehicle to deploy a network of autonomous underwater sensors and to serve as a gateway for their data.
The National Research Council, under the auspices of the Naval Studies Board, is currently conducting a study on Distributed Remote Sensing for Naval Undersea Warfare. See <http://webapp/cp/projectview.aspx?key=304>.
The Office of Naval Research (ONR) should conduct research and experimentation on concepts for autonomous underwater sensor networks, exploring the trade-off between in-array processing and communicating data for humans to interpret, balancing the burden of performance between the array’s automated detection and classification capabilities and its communication link.
It may be possible to use the LMRS as the critical infrastructure element to deploy the sensors precisely and covertly, provide any routine maintenance, and connect the sensor network to the outside world. In the envisioned system the sensors would be linked by optical fibers to each other and to the LMRS when it was in the vicinity. The LMRS would be able to connect to and disconnect from the array. In the absence of the LMRS, the array could collect and store data, or sleep, waiting for the LMRS to return.
Finding 5: A C4ISR architecture for future naval strike groups should exploit the communications and information-management capabilities of the DOD’s Global Information Grid (GIG), employ command-and-control (C2) systems that operate as one with C2 systems of other Services, access ISR capabilities provided by national and joint systems, provide the ability to establish interoperability rapidly with coalition and other U.S. government agency assets, and provide for specific C4ISR needs associated with the Naval Services’ missions and platforms.
In the committee’s view, the DOD’s GIG concept is the appropriate vision for the future, and the Navy and Marine Corps, together with their sister Services, have started down the path to implementing it. Much remains to be done with respect to ensuring quality of service for critical missions, information assurance, and network management.3 Requirements with respect to key aspects of the C4ISR architecture for naval strike groups in major combat operations are driven by the necessities of operating jointly and in the littorals.
Recommendation 5: The CNO, CMC, and ASN(RDA) should adopt a top-level conceptual representation of the C4ISR architecture for future naval strike groups.
For a top-level conceptual representation of the C4ISR architecture for future naval strike groups, the committee offers the views presented in Figures ES.1 and ES.2. Figure ES.1 depicts the future naval C4ISR architecture as an Internet-
like core with various information sources and user enclaves (e.g., communities of interest for strike warfare, theater air defense, and undersea warfare) connected to it. There is a considerable distance between this vision and today’s capabilities and paradigms, and the Naval Services need to participate in reducing the various risks associated with the transition.
Figure ES.2 indicates that the Navy’s C2 systems should be built, in accord with the Navy’s current plan, using a service-oriented architecture (SOA) approach. The SOA approach has been developed in the commercial sector for enterprise software systems. By providing a discovery service4 and other core
enterprise services in addition to application services, it facilitates use of externally developed services located at other GIG nodes, a key attribute of network-centric operations. As is acknowledged in Figure ES.2, however, certain legacy and special-purposes systems, as well as those with limited bandwidth connectivity to the GIG, will be connected to the GIG via gateways.
The ISR architecture should have platforms and sensors networked and layered and operated as part of the Naval Services’ major missions (e.g., Strike, Theater and Air Missile Defense, and Undersea Warfare). Each major mission will benefit from at least two of the multiple layers (space, airborne, surface, and subsurface). Sensors should be networked in major missions, not within layers. Each major mission should control certain platforms and sensors in each layer and operate a local-area network that tasks sensors and collects and fuses sensor data to create a tactical picture that meets the commander’s needs for that mission area. Each local-area network should be tied to the GIG and thereby provide collected sensor data to other mission areas.
Finding 6: Emerging threats, the rapid evolution of military and commercial technology, and new concepts of operations—including operations with other U.S. government agencies and ad hoc coalition forces—demand that naval C4ISR systems have increased levels of composability and adaptability.
Composability focuses on the ability to create new work flows dynamically, changing both information flow and resource assignments to achieve mission success. The ad hoc teaming requirement of C4ISR systems for Navy strike forces drives a critical need for composability.
Adaptability is the longer-term goal of using military systems in missions for which they were not originally intended, in response to dynamically changing situations and/or real-time events. Adaptability depends on but goes beyond, the needs of composability.
There is limited experience in applying commercial approaches such as service-oriented architectures and composable architectures to problems of the scale of naval C4ISR and relatively little is known about how to specify and test large-scale systems for composability and adaptability, and historically nothing exists about information assurance in this connection. In addition, unique issues of multilevel security are not being fully addressed in the commercial sector.
Recommendation 6: The Chief of Naval Research should conduct research and experimentation to develop and gain experience with technologies for composable and adaptable systems.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has initiated some limited research efforts that address the issues of composability and adaptability under the rubric of agile architectures. For example, under the Heteroge-
neous Urban Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition (RSTA) Team (HURT) Program, researchers are developing a system using model-based control algorithms to control a set of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The researchers are challenged to demonstrate that they can adapt the system to include a new UAV not in the design set within a 10 day period. Current research efforts need to be expanded and need to address additional C4ISR problem domains. The Office of Naval Research needs to focus on naval C4ISR problem domains, gaining experience with commercial technologies and developing additional technologies.
Finding 7: Despite important steps taken over the last few years and additional steps beginning to be taken as of this writing, the Department of the Navy’s mechanisms for the system engineering of enterprise-wide network-centric mission capability—and for guiding and directing programs toward these outcomes—need to be further strengthened in terms of scope, content, management authorities, and resources.
System engineering efforts focused on enabling information infrastructures need to be more robust and to be complemented by mission-driven end-to-end engineering and integration of the C4ISR enterprise. Current management mechanisms, while being strengthened, are not viewed as commensurate with either the importance or the degree of difficulty of successfully addressing the largely unprecedented “horizontal integration” challenges of the C4ISR enterprise. In particular, neither the ASN(RDA) Chief Engineer, as currently defined, nor the FORCEnet Chief Engineer has adequate authority and resources to meet the need. This situation may well result in the implementation of capabilities that neither achieve the full promise of network-centric operations nor entirely satisfy operational mission requirements in a naval or joint context. It may also result in critical vulnerabilities that U.S. adversaries may exploit.
Recommendation 7: The CNO, in consultation with the ASN(RDA), should establish a senior Navy Chief Engineer with the responsibility, authority, accountability, and resources for achieving mission objectives through the integration of naval and non-naval programs and capabilities. The CMC, in consultation with the ASN(RDA), should establish a Marine Corps counterpart to the Navy Chief Engineer. The Navy Chief Engineer and his or her Marine Corps counterpart should be supported by a robust, enterprise-wide mission systems engineering and experimentation activity to guide and shape major component programs toward the objective of achieving full network-centric C4ISR system-of-systems capability.
The CNO, CMC, and ASN(RDA) should do the following:
Invest the Navy Chief Engineer and his or her Marine Corps counterpart with sufficient authority to (1) issue to naval program managers authoritative
guidance to achieve network-centric C4ISR; (2) influence operational and technical requirements and resources across naval capabilities to ensure end-to-end network-centric capability; (3) lead the enterprise-wide system engineering capability; (4) participate in senior acquisition forums; and (5) establish acceptance criteria for systems and equipment.
Provide sufficient engineering resources and mechanisms, including “levers” (e.g., control of milestone-related incremental project-funding authorization, project milestone completion-approval authority) to drive cross-program integration, to enable the Navy Chief Engineer and his or her Marine Corps counterpart to work with program executive offices to engineer naval systems-of-systems.
Augment engineering, modeling, testing, and integration strategies, tools, and facilities to ensure system-of-systems design integrity and to place realistic bounds on end-to-end performance.
Finding 8: While the Navy has important initiatives under way with respect to transition planning for C4ISR architectures, more needs to be done. In particular, the Department of the Navy’s current and planned processes and approaches for transitioning from legacy to modern C2 systems do not adequately deal with the complexity and dynamics of emerging technologies and requirements.
There is inadequate transition planning for C4ISR architectures with respect to (1) assessing the network-centric potential of both legacy and developing systems and investing accordingly, (2) providing for coherent phasing among the many components toward long-term network-centric objectives, and (3) seizing nearer-term opportunities to field discrete, coherent “forward spirals” of network-centric capabilities at identified and scheduled milestones (i.e., a progression of mission capability packages).
Recommendation 8: The Navy Chief Engineer and his or her Marine Corps counterpart should initiate a transition-planning and -analysis activity for the near, mid- and long term, with priority for development placed on systems that enable significant and measurable improvements to key mission threads.5 In particular, the Program Executive Office, Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, and Space (PEO[C4I&S]) should focus its transition efforts in selected mission areas in order to achieve the critical mass necessary to manage transition complexity and to make full use of emerging technologies and requirements. Doing so would also position the Navy to satisfy its requirements in a way that meets joint service capability needs.
The committee could find no formal definition of mission thread. A working definition is given in Section 2.2.2: “A mission thread is a sequence of activities and events beginning with an opportunity to detect a threat or element that ought to be attacked and ending with a commander’s assessment of damage after an attack.”
The near-term planning and analysis activity should accelerate the network-centric future by aligning and synchronizing C4ISR components into discrete, coherent segments of the naval network-centric architecture that enable significant naval mission capability increments and operate within the joint context. The near-term planning and analysis activity should prioritize the capability increments to be transitioned for network-centric operations, and identify the DOD communities of interest (COIs) most instrumental to the success of the transition.
The efforts of the PEO(C4I&S) should include the following:
Create teams with the required expertise for each COI and task them to define COI services supplementing Network Centric Enterprise Services and COI data requirements as the basis for the needed metadata schemas.
Design and develop those COI services, using a spiral development and acquisition program to achieve executable architectures.
Build a spiral acquisition program for these COI services using modeling and simulation akin to the Navy Distributed Engineering Plant and Sea Trial experimentation to help validate the iterative evolution of these services. Interaction with red teams (adversary) in experimentation would add in making this evolution robust.6
Take a lead in joint developments, e.g., Joint Command and Control (JC2), as part of this spiral acquisition process.
Finding 9: The Navy faces a difficult challenge with respect to the transition from the current environment of limited communications bandwidth7 across legacy and commercial communications links, to the environment foreseen in the Transformational Communications Architecture (TCA) vision of unlimited bandwidth across uniformly IP-enabled networks.
The committee fully subscribes to the vision of eliminating bandwidth as a constraint and urges the Navy to aggressively pursue opportunities to provide additional bandwidth to its platforms; nevertheless, the committee recognizes that during the transition period, which is likely to last a decade or more, bandwidth will continue to be limited. The challenge is to organize and phase-development efforts to best cope with current and interim constraints while simultaneously migrating toward the long-term vision.
Recommendation 9: The Navy Chief Engineer and his or her Marine Corps counterpart should establish (time-phased) bandwidth allocations by platform
that are consistent with the development schedules of communications satellite programs and ensure that the C4ISR applications that are developed and deployed are consistent with these allocations. To increase the efficiency of bandwidth utilization and ease the transition to the TCA, the Navy should aggressively pursue efforts, using available technology, to accommodate IP on legacy communications channels to ships.
Examples of such technology include the dynamic bandwidth allocation and quality-of-service management software demonstrated by the Navy in Trident Warrior 03 and the inverse multiplexing and mobile IP software developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory under the Information for Global Reach Program. The latter software has been selected by the Air Force for operational implementation on the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) aircraft.
Finding 10: To take advantage of the enormous benefits offered by network-centric capabilities, a global network-centric naval communications and processing network architecture is needed—an architecture driven by the doctrine and overarching information architecture of the “come as you are” rapid force application.
The communications architecture requires the following capabilities:
Rapid configuration of “come as you are” force networks, real-time encryption key management, and network management with preconfigured responses to electronic warfare (EW) and information warfare (IW) attacks;
Surge communications capacity to acquire information required for full-range, rapid force application missions, including information for protecting the force;
Information assurance capabilities to protect the force. These capabilities need to cover the full range of attacks across the multiple layers of network-centric communications; and
The equipping of all platforms to be able to receive satellite broadband broadcasts in order to enable operations under electromagnetic emission control (EMCON) conditions.
Recommendation 10: The Navy Chief Engineer and his or her Marine Corps counterpart should establish a naval architecture task force to resolve the policy, budgetary, performance, and technical issues that need to be addressed to enable the development of objective and transitional communications architectures. The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) and the Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC) should support the task force in its efforts to address and resolve the issues involved with developing a meaningful architecture.
For these architectures to be meaningful, they must ensure that the naval objectives of the future can be met. To accomplish this requires a broad effort that starts with doctrine, develops structure and user-based performance metrics, and addresses issues of security and robustness. The current naval communications capability has performed well in recent operations, but may be found lacking in a high-stress environment with an adversary waging aggressive information warfare. For example, at least some of the current Navy communications capabilities are easy to deny—particularly, commercial communications systems such as the International Maritime Satellite (Inmarsat).
Finding 11: The committee also notes that, in studies dating back many years by the Naval Studies Board and others, there have been recommendations on C4ISR and network-centric operations similar to those offered in this study.8 While substantive improvements have occurred, progress has generally been slow, and no timetable for change has been put forth. In the meantime, the Naval Services’ official visions of future warfighting capabilities have relied more and more on the achievement of network-centric operations. The committee concurs in these visions and their attendant integration of C4ISR into combat systems. However, failure to achieve network-centric operations, or to integrate C4ISR into combat systems, could seriously limit future naval force capabilities, possibly affecting decisions on sending forces into theater and in harm’s way, or the nation’s ability to project credible power.
Recommendation 11: The CNO and CMC should consider implementing the recommendations of this report as a managed program, with milestones that must be met for such things as the development of time-budget allocations for time-critical mission threads, the identification of the system capabilities that are required to meet those time budgets, the establishment of funded development programs for systems to provide those capabilities, and the identification of dates by which the capabilities enabled by those systems will be operational.