SMDC History: Prototype deployed for Operation Noble Eagle

By Sharon Watkins Lang (SMDC/ARSTRAT Command Historian)September 6, 2018

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

At the turn of the century, the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command submitted operational and system capability requirements for an improved tactical operations center.

A primary goal was to reduce the in-theater footprint by 70 percent. At the same time, they sought to enhance the software capabilities e.g. integrate the air picture and create two- and three-dimensional displays as well as improve communications.

In 1999, the Space and Missile Defense Battle Lab accepted the challenge. Developing upon the concepts of the Force Protection Tactical Operations Center developed earlier that decade, the Battle Lab began to construct a new Future Operational Capability Tactical Operations Center or FOC TOC.

By the summer of 2001, the prototype was built and the Battle Lab had initiated testing on the new FOC TOC. In addition to Roving Sands and Northern Edge, the FOC TOC had been tested with the 1st Air Force and the in fleet battle experiments. During these and subsequent experiments, the FOC TOC effectively provided support to an array of systems across the services in multiple engagement and force operations scenarios.

Following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the timeline was accelerated as the Battle Lab was tasked to provide the prototype for operational use in defense of the nation's capital.

On Sept. 12, the commander of the 1st Air Force requested that the FOC TOC be mobilized in support of Operation Noble Eagle/Clear Skies, the Department of Defense initiative to provide homeland security, ensure force protection and assist with recovery following 9/11.

According to military analyst Mike Leech, "this was the only system available that could meet the requirements and there [were] probably 20 tactical operations center programs in the works."

Stationed at Oceana Naval Air Station, Virginia Beach, Virginia, along with the 1st Air Force, the FOC TOC operated 24/7 from Sept. 12 through Dec. 5. The Air Defense Command and Control Testbed contributed to the defense of the national capital region surveying the skies for threats throughout this period providing command and control for ground-based air defense.

Until a permanent command and control capability was installed, the FOC TOC provided an improved situational awareness with an integrated air picture of the East Coast. As a result of its successful performance during this emergency operation, the 1st Air Force subsequently submitted requirements for a FOC TOC built to their specifications -- the Joint Based Expeditionary Contingency Control Center.

The FOC TOC successfully reduced the configuration of the traditional operations center from 5 HMMWVs and 5 DRASH tents to a single DRASH tent with two HMMWVs making an operational HMMWV, a modular command post, and a support HMMWV with trailer producing a system that could be deployed aboard a single C-141, while enabling all of the theater air and missile defense required capabilities.

The operational HMMWV housed the communications equipment, servers and network devices. It included more than a dozen communications suites such as UHF data and voice, landline SIPRNET, VHF SINCGARS, radar feeds, television, a wireless network and Joint Tactical Ground Station theater missile defense telemetry.

The FOC TOC focused on commercial and government off-the-shelf technology "to give a more compact operation." At the heart of the command post meanwhile was the Advanced Warfare Environment command and control display architecture, which received data from these communication channels.

Based upon Windows NT, AWarE incorporated both a command map, a correlator and application layers. The command map provided two- and three-dimensional visualizations. The Multi Source Correlator Tracker provided "the framework for developing a composite track from multiple data inputs."

The applications layers or toolkits included the Common Operational Modeling, Planning and Simulation Strategy for distributed, collaborative planning; integrated theater air defense simulation; nuclear, chemical, biological and radiological analysis; moving target indicator and synthetic aperture radar data from JSTARS, intelligence preparation via the Tactically Integrated Geographic Environment; and Remote Joint Tactical Ground Station. With the AWarE system, one computer and one operator replaced multiple operators managing five separate systems.

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