Army Transformation at Sea: The New Theater
The Army's new Theater Support Vessel (TSV)
is a rapidly developed response to the transformational operational
maneuver and sustainment demands of force-projection operations.
The TSV is a fast-moving, shallow-draft
vessel that can simultaneously move troops and their equipment together
as combat-ready units within theater and deploy them with little
or no reception, staging, onward movement, and integration (RSOI)
activities at undeveloped ports. The TSV also provides follow-on
sustainment through joint logistics over-the-shore (JLOTS) operations.
Operations Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom highlighted
the need for maneuver-force and logistics transformation. To respond
quickly to threats around the world, the U.S. Army must field highly
lethal, deployable units and the sustainment forces to move and
support them. The speed at which forces must deploy and be available
for battle changes the paradigm of moving troops separately from
their containerized equipment and then remarrying them and unpacking
and reorganizing equipment at the destination port. While the separate
intertheater movement approach will still exist, the concept of
intratheater maneuver of combat-ready units (troops and equipment
together) provides the theater commander with an operational capability
to bypass defended or major ports and inject combat power anywhere.
Evolving force-projection doctrine requires inserting combat-ready
units by air and sea into undeveloped theaters of war to gain and
maintain the operational initiative. By design, the TSV can rapidly
maneuver a combat-ready force over operational distances, provide
continuous Battle Command On-The-Move (BCOTM), and facilitate insertion
and operational sustainment of the force once ashore.
Meeting Force-Projection Requirements
In "Enabling Operational Maneuver from
Strategic Distances," Brigadier General Huba Wass de Czege
and Lieutenant Colonel Zbigniew M. Majchrzak note: "One consistent
study finding . . . has been that . . . Shallow-Draft, High-Speed
Ships (SDHSS)[sic]- because of their speed, throughput capability,
and capacity-most significantly impacted force closure. The [TSV]
was initially used in a strategic role. Thereafter, it was another
source of agility and flexibility as it allowed the [joint force
commander] to insert combat power and sustainment with precision
in a quickly changing environment. Not limited to ports, the TSV
could operate at countless locations along the coast without losing
efficiency."1 For the past 3 years,
TSV prototypes have proven this conclusion correct in the Iraqi
theater of operations. When the Army fields the Future Combat System,
a suitable Army watercraft will already be combat-tested to support
Operations Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom demonstrated
the blurring of strategic, operational, and tactical boundaries.
With the technological capability to deliver strategic and operational
intelligence and firepower to the tactical battlefield, and with
the speed of tactical maneuver forces, operations are increasingly
evolving toward an integrated close/deep battlefield and continuous
(versus phased) operations. Perhaps more than any other system,
the TSV design reflects this new paradigm's demands.
As a maneuver and sustainment asset, the TSV
faces several unique command, control, communications, computer,
intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) challenges.
First, it operates in a joint military as well as a civil/maritime
environment. Second, it supports combat, combat support, and combat
service support activities. Finally, its operations cross strategic,
operational, and tactical echelons, so it must interface with the
worldwide maritime communications prerequisites mandated by the
Global Maritime Distress and Safety System and the Safety of Life
at Sea treaties, the Navy's FORCEnet architecture, and the Army's
LandwarNet command and control (C2) systems. TSV's battle command
center (BCC) offers transformational capabilities by replicating
a command post and supporting BCOTM. Potential future missions for
this robust asset include en-route mission planning and rehearsal
(deploying "ready to fight"); deployable joint C2; Homeland
Security operations; humanitarian operations; or operations other
The TSV breaks previous paradigms by greatly
reducing RSOI (time and costs at destination) by avoiding separate
deployment of combat unit personnel and equipment, and by combining
C4I operational maneuver and logistics capabilities into a single
platform. Establishing this new paradigm (supporting operational
maneuver and operational logistics worldwide for both inter- and
intratheater movement), the TSV fulfills more C4ISR interoperability
requirements than any other transformational platform. (TSV C4ISR
interoperability encompasses civil/maritime and joint, combined,
and coalition forces from battalion to echelons above corps and
spans all battlefield operating systems and domains.)
The strategy is to integrate proven, state-ofthe-art
technologies using a system-of-systems approach with an open system
architecture to meet user demands. TSV C4ISR requirements can be
divided into two major categories: vessel and embarked unit operations.
Vessel operations. Vessel capabilities include
civil/ maritime communications, electronics, and navigation (CEN)
and military applications. These capabilities support bridge operations,
enabling the TSV to use voice and data communications to coordinate
its movement through international waters and to conduct port operations.
Both civil and military port authorities are moving toward advanced
C2 and vessel identification systems. The Coast Guard's Deepwater
program and the Army Harbormaster Command and Control Center seek
to upgrade what were primarily voice capabilities to joint and interagency
digital communications for voice and data interoperability.
TSV's design anticipates operations in these
complementary architectures. Movement within the military maritime
environment involves close coordination with friendly sea and air
forces to ensure multidimensional security in areas where the TSV
might be independently maneuvering and to prevent fratricide. TSV's
transition through joint and Army command boundaries between and
within theaters requires considerable communications capabilities
and planning. When compared to previous, slowmoving logistical convoy
actions, the demands of the TSV's concept of operations (CONOPS)
exceed previous Army watercraft operations and greatly increase
requirements for coordinating and integrating its activities by
the theater operations, logistics, and signal staffs. The TSV will
participate in Army and Navy satellite communications (SATCOM) architectures,
has an international maritime satellite capability, and will directly
receive intelligence broadcasts.
The TSV is equipped for self-deployment between
theaters using both military and civil maritime C4ISR equipment
suites with full-spectrum communications interoperability.2
Data communications via Global Command and Control Systems-Army
(GCCS-A) and Maritime (GCCS-M) and Blue Force Tracker software maintain
land, air, and sea situational awareness and transmit the TSV's
location to the joint common operating picture (COP).
The TSV uses an electronic monitoring system
called the Integrated Engineering Control and Surveillance System
to track performance of all major engineering, propulsion, and navigation
equipment. Sensors throughout the vessel provide continuous feedback
to the bridge on the vessel's health and maintenance status, reducing
the requirement for a larger crew. Forward-looking infrared radar/millimeter-wave,
driver-viewing enhancements, electronic mapping, and underwater
survey equipment ensure the TSV can move in degraded weather conditions
and with stealth in low light conditions.
Vessel operations also include a self-protection
capability. As a noncombatant, the TSV anticipates coverage and
protection from the Navy's force-protection umbrella. The TSV's
C4ISR system-of-systems architecture requires a highly reliable,
highly autonomous self-protection suite of multispectral detectors
and responders ranging from the passive through the nonlethal to
hard-kill mechanisms. All of these subsystems will be part of the
Integrated Bridge System and can be operated from one or more remote
Embarked-unit battle command. The Objective
Battle Command Concept stresses the need for a C2 capability for
en-route movement of troops: "Objective Force commanders will
exercise continuous command over their forces. This encompasses
the full deployment cycle, from time of alert to redeployment. From
whatever location the commander chooses, commanders should have
access to the common operational picture, the ability to collaborate
with other commanders, and the ability to access key members of
the staff. Commanders retain this capability whether they are at
home station, en route to the area of operations, operating from
their own command post, exercising command from a subordinate or
adjacent command post, moving inside their command vehicle, or on
foot with a personal digital device" (emphasis added).3
The Army vessel TSV-1X Spearhead meets this
transformational concept today. The TSV is equipped with an on-board
BCC to support continuous C2 of an embarked unit during all phases.
Battle command center capabilities encompass C2 operations using
Army Battlefield Command Systems, Global Command and Control Systems-Joint
(GCCS-J), Blue Force Tracker, collaborative tools, visualization/rehearsal
software, and wideband SATCOM. A shipwide local area network (LAN)
and intercom system support intravessel and off-board voice, data,
and video-teleconference (VTC) interoperability with other C2 nodes.
The BCC gives the TSV the ability to deliver ready-to-fight combat
In May 2004, Spearhead demonstrated BCOTM in
a JLOTS Advanced Concept and Technology Demonstration (ACTD) at
the Force Projection Symposium at Norfolk, Virginia. Recently returned
from realworld operations in the Iraqi theater of operations, the
TSV-1X had proven its value in littoral sustainment operations.
TSV-1X's participation in the JLOTS was intended to highlight its
transformational role as a theater maneuver asset and the unique
C4ISR capabilities it offers in joint operations.
The demonstration provided a perfect context
for conducting BCC operations by a notionally embarked unit during
intratheater movement. The ACTD scenario involved the embarkation
of notional Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT) elements (equipment
and personnel), BCOTM, and mission planning/rehearsal during intratheater
movement and debarkation via JLOTS onto an undeveloped beach.
A simulation from Headquarters, U.S. Communications
and Electronics Command (CECOM), of a 3d Infantry Division (ID)
action in Iraq drove the scenario. A BCOTM Stryker vehicle and a
heavy HMMWV were loaded on the TSV and connected to the shipwide
LAN. A notional staff manned the BCC connected to a sanctuary command
center to obtain theater COP and division-level common tactical
picture updates as well as mission changes.
During the demonstration, all battle command
activities (voice, data, and VTC) were provided via LAN to the BCOTM
Stryker and HMMWV in the hold of the vessel. Battle command was
maintained continuously during actual TSV movement from the embarkation
port to the JLOTS beach location during JLOTS execution and troop
unit debarkation. On arrival at the roll-on/roll-off discharge facility
(RRDF), the notional SBCT disembarked with its command vehicles
updated with the most current battle command/COP information and
joined its receiving command with little or no RSOI. The vessel
used its own CEN suite to coordinate and execute port operations,
navigation, and JLOTS activities, including change of mission to
an unplanned port.
Critical C4ISR links. Figure 2 depicts the
JLOTS scenario with TSV communications links to various vessels,
vehicles, and command centers (numbered 1 through 8). Links 1, 2,
3, 5, and 6 were accomplished using the TSV commercial Integrated
Bridge System. Using civil/maritime VHF radios, the TSV crew coordinated
navigation from the port to the JLOTS site as well as maneuvers
around the RRDF. Such communication represents typical information
exchange requirements (IERs) related to inter- and intratheater
movement. During the JLOTs exercise, the TSV demonstrated its effectiveness
by meeting 19 of 23 critical operational requirements document (ORD)
IERs, including the following:
• Bridge to bridge. Links 1, 2, 5, and
6 correspond to the ORD critical IERs for the coordination of TSV
navigation and safe passage with other maritime traffic.
• TSV to Port Authorities. Link 3 corresponds
to several critical IERs, including coordination of entry to and
departure from ports of embarkation and debarkation; conduct of
cargo upload and discharge operations; and changes of mission.
• Other. Other critical IERs demonstrated
include "TSV commander requests/receives navigational and weather
information (NAVTEX broadcasts)," and "Obtain own ship
position via Global Positioning System." Both were accomplished
as a normal part of vessel operations during the event.
• Continuous battle command by embarked
unit. Links 7 and 8 were performed via wideband SATCOM between the
TSV and the sanctuary command center at CECOM headquarters and were
the focus of the ACTD. Both voice and data, including VTC, were
used in battle command activities that included preembarkation,
embarkation, and en-route battle command, mission planning, and
rehearsal. ORD critical IERs demonstrated include the following:
•• Operational commander requests
movement of forces/sustainment.
•• TSV/embarked unit commander
requests/receives COP update.
•• TSV commander coordinates force
•• TSV commander updates COP with
TSV position (Blue Force Tracker).
•• TSV/embarked unit commander
issues situation reports to headquarters.
•• Coordination of maintenance
•• Embarked unit commander/battle
staff collaboratively revise mission plan (with higher headquarters).
•• Embarked unit commander issues
revised OPLAN/conducts en-route rehearsal (within BCC).
A Leader in Logistics Transformation
While the TSV's operational maneuver and battle
command capabilities are impressive, the TSV contributes equally
to logistics transformation in both Army and joint operations. TSV
participation in real-world operations in the Iraqi theater and
in joint exercises has proven its transformational sustainment capabilities.
Increasing the speed of deployment and employment carries with it
a concurrent need for more mobile sustainment platforms.
In "Sustaining Expeditionary Forces,"
Major General Terry E. Juskowiac and Colonel Michael Williams point
out that "[g]enerating sustainment will require dualcapability
mobility and distribution platforms, a much greater integration
of operations and sustainment than ever before across the joint
force, and finally, a process that can sense and react to dynamic
battlefield conditions and the natural tension between operations
and sustainment requirements" (emphasis added).4
The TSV design is meeting this challenge by reducing the battlespace
logistics footprint, enhancing strategic mobility and deployability,
and reducing logistics costs without affecting warfighting capability
Reducing the logistics footprint. The TSV reduces
the logistics footprint in the battlespace by carrying combat-ready
sets of troops and equipment together, virtually eliminating the
need for RSOI activities at a port. In fact, its shallow draft allows
it to deliver sustainment where no logistics footprint exists. Another
important TSV logistics enabler is its compliance with the common
logistics operating environment via its ability to provide in-transit
visibility (ITV) of its cargo. The content of cargo the TSV carries
is known and is tracked continuously from loading through unloading.
Automatic information technology, in the form of radio frequency
identification tags/readers and a Movement Tracking System on board
ensure continuous ITV of cargo to the logistics COP. As these capabilities
are integrated with the GCSS-A, the TSV will provide full logistics
tracking in the Joint Total Asset Visibility System.
Enhancing mobility and deployability. The TSV
enhances strategic mobility and deployability through its range,
speed, and shallow draft. The TSV's threshold operational range
is 1,250 nautical miles. With loaded speeds up to 40 knots, this
represents a quantum leap in mobility over its 10-knot predecessors,
many of which are approaching the end of their useful lives. Moreover,
the maneuver of combat-ready unit sets of 350 people plus equipment
is currently not possible without the TSV. The vessel's objective-a
fully loaded draft of 15 feet or less-increases by a factor of five
the number of ports it can use worldwide. This is important in overcoming
enemy port-denial strategies and makes the TSV ideally suited for
rapid distribution of goods in humanitarian efforts where road infrastructure
can be a major obstacle to reaching remote areas. The TSV also represents
an important addition to the mix of joint mobility and deployability
systems. Today's rapid deployment of forces relies too heavily on
air transport. A logical mix of high-speed water transport can overcome
competition for air resources and minimize potential operational
Reducing cost without reducing readiness. Clearly,
the TSV increases warfighting capability from both operational maneuver
and sustainment perspectives, but at what relative cost? In support
of the TSV's ORD, an operational analysis compared the TSV with
legacy Army watercraft and airlift assets. The scenario had watercraft,
aircraft, or both moving an SBCT from Okinawa, Japan, to Pusan,
Korea. Analysts compared the number of sorties, days required, and
costs incurred. In every case, the TSV was a clear winner. Time
was reduced by 30 to 92 percent and costs were reduced by 23 to
The TSV is a truly transformational capability
that enhances Army and joint deployment, employment, and sustainment.
In anticipation of future production and fielding, the CONOPS for
this exciting capability will be further developed during various
theater exercises.5 As a result of jointly
sponsored experiments, the Marine Corps now requires a high-speed
connector to support expeditionary maneuver warfare doctrine and
ship-to-objective maneuver CONOPS. The Navy's Transformational Roadmap
for Seabasing also demands high-speed, shallow-draft vessels. Therefore,
the Army's management of the TSV is transitioning to the Joint High
Speed Vessel Program led by the Navy. This combined approach will
foster greater support for the program and is an economyof-scale
for production and sustainment.
1. BG Huba Wass de Czege and
LTC Zbigniew M. Majchrza, "Enabling Operational Maneuver from
Strategic Distances," Military Review (May-June 2002): 16.
2. Full-spectrum operations
include high-frequency, ultra high-frequency, and very high-frequency
narrow and wideband satellite communications.
3. U.S. Army Technical
Publication 525-3-0.1, Objective Force Battle Command Concept (Washington,
DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 31 October 2002).
4. MG Terry E. Juskowiac
and Colonel Michael Williams, "Sustaining Expeditionary Forces,"
Army Logistician (September-October 2003).
5. The projected theater
exercises include Foal Eagle, Cobra Gold, Talisman Sabre, and Bright
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