Managing Battle at the Cutting Edge
With both China and Pakistan hell-bent on stoking insurgencies within India, our cutting edge forces will need to be equipped with the requirements to cope with the 21st century threats including high-tech terrorists and insurgents wielding modern weapons
With both China and Pakistan hell-bent on stoking insurgencies within India, our cutting edge forces will need to be equipped with the requirements to cope with the 21st century threats.
T ECHNOLOGY HAS POISED COMMANDERS to see their areas of responsibility in depth and in real near time. It is possible to develop an accurate common picture and share it both horizontally and vertically. Precisely locating, identifying, tracking and attacking targets by appropriate means and monitoring effects is a reality. Operating in joint environments and mature capability to conduct multi-dimensional simultaneous operations is facilitated. Success in future military operations will require a telescoped decision-action cycle and the ability to conduct operations simultaneously within an all arms group.
The Army wants the objective of the system to provide a command, control and information (C2I) integration tool supporting every level of military users ranging from individual soldier to battalion group/combat group commander in the tactical battle area (TBA), which will provide in near real time an appropriate, common and comprehensive tactical picture by integration of inputs from all elements in a battle group. The integration will include inputs from command and control elements, detachments, supporting arms, surveillance devices and headquarters, thereby providing a distinct edge in the successful conduct of operations and optimisation of resources.
The capabilities required of the battlefield management system (BMS) are: to provide a command and control system spanning the TBA spreading across individuals, detach- ments, combat platforms, sensors, subunits, units to the battalion commander/regiment commander; achieve faster reaction capability and flexibility in command and control by providing information automatically at the right place and in the right time, thereby compressing the observe orient decide and act (OODA) loop; providing a strong foundation for making decisions based on near real time, consistent and well-structured information, thereby enhancing the information handling capability of commanders at all levels; strengthening information exchange by having a strong messaging and replication mechanism; improving and modernising presentation of information in near real time; integrating with other command and control system.
Areas of Interest
There are numerous areas of interest that include developing a suitable application on an intuitive operating system, geographic information system (GIS) suitability customised to meet military requirements, voice and data communications that should always
The BMS sought by the Army will perform a variety of operational situation awareness and decision support functions at the battalion/combat group level
remain up, computer hardware which is rugged and non-obtrusive, retro-fitment maintaining platform integrity and system integration to include application software, data links with radio systems, integration of battalion/regiment level sensors battlefield surveillance radar (BFSR), thermal imagers, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) data, satellite imagery, etc. The BMS being looked at will perform a variety of operational situational awareness and decision support functions at a battalion group/combat group level.
The lowest level to which the system will be connected is individual soldier/combat platform and the highest level will be the battalion/regiment commander. The system will be further integrated to the tactical command, control, communications and information (Tac C3I) system through the command information decision support system (CIDSS). The BMS will comprise a tactical handheld computer with individual soldiers and tactical computers at Battle Group Headquarters and combat vehicles. Computers will be integrated employing application and database servers connected on a dataenabled communication network. The system will enable generation of common operational picture by integrating inputs from all relevant sources within a battle group by integrated use of GIS and global positioning system (GPS). The BMS will be a highly mobile system which is able to network itself by integration of components and provide a high data rate. The communications should not interfere with the legacy communication equipment and should easily be retrofitted into combat platform. The communications system should optimally utilise the bandwidth available for military communications involving voice and data including video streaming and imageries. It should be scalable to ensure its availability to all elements and range from being man-portable to being fitted in combat vehicles. The earlier the Army acquires the BMS, the better will be its capacity in network-centric warfare.
The BMS sought by the Army will perform a variety of operational situational awareness and decision support functions at a battalion/combat group level. The lowest level to which the system will be connected is individual soldier/combat platform and the highest level will be the battalion/regiment commander integrating to the Tac C3I System through the CIDSS, enabling a common operational picture, integrating all sources through integrated use of GIS and GPS, will be a highly mobile and with high data rate. The communications should not interfere with the legacy communication equipment and should easily be retrofitted into combat platform. Communications should optimally utilise the bandwidth available for military communications involving voice, data, imageries and video streaming. It should be scalable to ensure its availability to all elements and range from being manportable to being fitted in combat vehicles. When pitted against the future requirements, the legacy communication devices are physically incompatible, follow different link protocols, have issues of address, reach and quality of service (QoS). The legacy of existing combat net radios (CNR) are with fixed frequency (analogue), are capable of limited communication and data rates besides the requirement of a modem for data transmission, are not secure and have no data encryption facility. In effect, the present family of radio sets does not meet the requirements of a NCW Force that would facilitate transmission of voice, video and data simultaneously. For BMS to be successful; there is a need for a reliable, robust, resilient and efficient communication system that assures that the network is always functional. Net-centricity warrants a paradigm shift from voice-centric to datacentric systems and networks eventually enabling NCW capabilities. For BMS communications, the Indian Army would be looking for long-range high bandwidth data transmission (live streaming), facilitating messaging, including voice mail, quickly deployable, self-configuring and self-healing networks, easy to customise, rolling coverage and interoperability. The focus will have to be on change in network topology, non line of sight communications, spectrum management, network management systems, QoS (including latency, assured delivery, jitter), security of communications, networks and storage, robustness and authentication. Deployment of new technologies like software defined radios (SDRs) that can also communicate with CNRs to offset growth in demand for spectrum needs serious thought. Compression technologies for passage of information must be capitalised. Test bed for the BMS should be
The future infantry soldier system programme, being developed by the Directorate General of Infantry, is to ensure a dramatic increase in lethality, survivability and mobility while making the infantry soldier “a self-contained fighting machine”
at full scale, down to the individual soldier. It is prudent to do this and then think of eliminating a particular piece of equipment than adopting the reverse approach. There is a need to review the communication philosophy of the Army. While legacy radios have their limitations, the change management towards fielding of latest technology like SDRs and communication infrastructure will need to be fine tuned. Applications will need to be standardised and adaptable to any communication system including COTS products. Bandwidth requirements for the BMS need to be viewed keeping in mind the incremental requirements that would be required progressively over the years. A conservative approach by the Army at this stage, which is likely due to the limitations of legacy communication equipment, could limit exploitation of future technology. As an indicator, the US Army catered for one 1GB bandwidth for a combat team two years back and plans incremental upgrades. The government needs to examine allotment of a dedicated defence band from the spectrum to meet the bandwidth requirement of the services and keeping in mind threats to national security. This will also adequately address the communication requirements of the BMS. Robust security algorithms must be speedily developed to ensure security of both stored data as well as transmitted information.
As the vanguard of cutting edge of the Indian Army are the 400-odd Infantry and Rashtriya Rifles battalions besides other fighting arms. Eventually, this capacity will also be required in the Paramilitary Forces (PMF), Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and other security forces units employed in counter-insurgency and anti-terrorist operations, disaster management, border deployment and UN missions. Through the BMS being developed by the Directorate General of Information System (DGIS), the Army wants to provide a command and control system spanning the TBA spreading across individuals, detachments, combat platforms, sensors, subunits, units to the battalion commander/regiment commander; achieve faster reaction capability and flexibility in command and control by providing information automatically at the right place in the right time and compress the OODA loop. The future infantry soldier system (F-INSAS) programme being developed by the Directorate General of Infantry, is to ensure a dramatic increase in lethality, survivability and mobility while making the infantry soldier “a self-contained fighting machine”, is based on the land warrior system of the US Army and future soldier programmes of other nations. This is being developed in three phases; Phase 1 comprising weapons, body armour, clothing and individual equipment, Phase 2 comprising the target acquisition system and Phase 3 comprising the computer sub-system, radio sub-system, software and software integration. F-INSAS will provide the infantryman with latest weaponry, communication network and instant access to information on the battlefield. It will include a fullynetworked all-terrain, all-weather personal equipment platform, enhanced firepower and mobility for the digitised battlefield of the future. The infantryman will be equipped with mission-oriented equipment integrated with his buddy soldier team, the subunit, as also the overall command, control, communications, computers, information and intelligence (C4I2) system. Complete fielding in all infantry and RR units is likely to be complete by 2020 or so. The BMS and F-INSAS programmes are being developed concurrently; BMS under Information Systems and F-INSAS under the Infantry. BMS was conceived at battalion/regiment level pan-Army (including for the infantry) and comprises communication, non-communication hardware and software. The DGIS is charged with facilitating transformation of the Indian Army into a dynamic network-centric force, achieving information superiority through effective management of information technology. Quite logically, Phase 3 of F-INSAS (computer sub-system, radio sub-system, software and software integration) should be part of the BMS. However, the Infantry was adamant that Phase 3 of F-INSAS should be developed by Infantry and not be part of BMS. Lack of understanding of technology and egos led the decision-makers to rule that the DGIS and Infantry would progress both projects concurrently. A separate project of software and communication integration by Infantry is retrograde, delays overall net-centricity pan-Army, incurs additional avoidable costs and defeats the very purpose that DGIS was created for. While the Indian Army required the BMS ‘yesterday’, squabbling on delimitation between the BMS and F-INSAS cost a delay to Phase 1 of BMS by almost two years. If F-INSAS is to incorporate situational awareness and GIS, then it will amount to not only ‘re-inventing the wheel’ but will also require yet another project to integrate the F-INSAS with the BMS, implying infructuous and avoidable additional expenditure and time. Foreign armies have faced similar situations and we need to learn from their mistakes rather than going through the same mistakes. The Indian Army must take corrective action and let BMS cover the Infantry too, as planned earlier, especially since the BMS being developed will cover Mechanised Infantry, inclusive of dismounted role.
Deployment of the battlefield management system will provide a definitive edge in battle. It is equally required for homeland security where the internal security by all indications is likely to get uglier with bulk population in youth bracket, illiteracy, unemployment, influx of illegal weapons and drugs. Mention of “two-and-a-halffront” by the Army is proof enough of this. With both China and Pakistan hell-bent on stoking insurgencies within India, our cutting edge forces will need to be equipped with the requirements to cope with the 21st century threats including high-tech terrorists and insurgents wielding modern weapons, communications, equipment and providing fleeting targets.
Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron Raven operators viewing images transmitted from an RQ-11 Raven during a recent mission