By Josh Davidson, Symbolic Systems, Inc., Team C4ISR KCAugust 20, 2007
FORT MONMOUTH N.J. - Through the Common Operational Picture provided in Army Battle Command Systems 6.4, a commander now receives a wealth of information that allows him to confidently make informed decisions.
The large amount of data in the COP, however, can make the process of deciding how to react a little more challenging. While digital systems provide the commander with a look at the present COP, Running Estimates Services will help him hypothesize into the future.
Aca,!A"It can anticipate bad news and (the commander can) take action before it happens,Aca,!A? said Mr. John Licwinko, the ViecoreFSD Program lead. Aca,!A"So itAca,!a,,cs a predictive tool, as well as filtering through a lot of data and simplifying it for the commanders.Aca,!A?
Running Estimates Services is presently assigned to the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center Command and Control Directorate. It will eventually be transitioned to Project Manager Battle Command of the ArmyAca,!a,,cs Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications Tactical.
Aca,!A"A division level plan might include hundreds of tasks that a commander would normally have to track in his head,Aca,!A? said Mr. Ron Szymanski, Network Enabled Battle Command Decision Support Services lead.
Aca,!A"So, he has to track thousands of entities and maybe a couple of hundred units and a couple of hundred tasks over the course of maybe a three day mission,Aca,!A? he said.
The systemAca,!a,,cs developers worked with subject matter experts to learn about the commanderAca,!a,,cs thinking process, he said. That input was coded as system rules to eliminate some of the need for a commander to track tasks in his head, Aca,!A"sort of like putting a commanderAca,!a,,cs brain in the system,Aca,!A? Szymanski said.
Aca,!A"When a commander creates a task in [CERDECAca,!a,,cs Combined Arms Planning & Execution System (CAPES)], to move a Brigade from one location to another, he must determine when to mark a task completed,Aca,!A? he said.
Aca,!A"For example, given the above movement task, letAca,!a,,cs say that the commander considers the task completed when they (the Brigade) move to within 100 meters of the objective,Aca,!A? Szymanksi said. Aca,!A"A rule has been coded into RES that will automatically mark the task as Aca,!EoecompletedAca,!a,,c when the unit reaches 100 meters of its objective. The commander can then tailor the rule to meet his needs. This might mean setting it to a two kilometer threshold rather than 100 meters.Aca,!A?
The commander can also tweak any of the systemAca,!a,,cs rules in a way that makes more sense with his mission. There are similar rules to define when that movement task is running late or early or when the unit is Aca,!A"off task.Aca,!A? Additionally, there are rules for other types of tasks like Attack, Defend, Guard, and more.
The systemAca,!a,,cs capability to predict into the future lets a commander be proactive rather than reactive to bad news, Licwinko said.
The tool is an aid for a unitAca,!a,,cs Battle Captain, whose role is keeping an eye on the mission, said Timothy Chase, NEBC consulting engineer. The tool tells the Battle Captain if he is running late on a task and alerts him of the dependent tasks that might not be successful if he does not make a correction, he said.
Running Estimates Services receives current situational data from other systems, plays it against its internal knowledge of a mission and is then capable of automatically recognizing risks and opportunities to a plan, he said.
For example, Chase said, an individual might determine that a half-tank of gas in their car is adequate if they are driving a short distance to pick up milk. However, if that same person plans on traveling five hours to a relativeAca,!a,,cs house, they will not have enough.
With Running Estimates Services, a Warfighter can determine if he or she has enough gas for a mission.
Aca,!A"Intel without context is not as useful as intel with context,Aca,!A? Chase said.
The system is a predictive tool, but the final decisions are made by its users, he said.
Aca,!A"If it finds differences, it tries to apply logical comparative inference to determine whether or not the differences represent something to your planAca,!a,,cs detriment; that was a risk or if they are differences that are good,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"You thought that you were going to have half a tank of gas, but you really have three-quarters of a tank. So, thatAca,!a,,cs a difference, but itAca,!a,,cs an opportunity Aca,!" youAca,!a,,cve got more fuel in your tank. So, how could you exploit that opportunity'Aca,!A?
Running Estimate Services was created by leveraging CAPES, a system used by the commander to start and create a plan, define tasks, set up units and draw graphics, Szymanski said.
The data received from CAPES is fed into Running Estimate and merged with current situational feeds from Publish and Subscribe Service, Data Dissemination Services and other (ABCS) 6.4 situational awareness feeds.
Aca,!A"Once you do that, you start looking at what does the commander need really to look at,Aca,!A? Szymanski said. Aca,!A"So by default we sort of track every single task that the commander has in the given plan.Aca,!A?
In May, the RES team began pulling feeds from a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program called Real-time Adversarial Intelligence and Decision-making. RAID is used to determine the outcome of providing automated prediction tools to a commander to help him play out a battle. Such tools can determine where in a battle a commander will be in five hours from a specific point. It can also determine the manner in which the enemy will move, Szymanski said.
Aca,!A"We hope we can take solutions like that and feed that into Running Estimates as well so you can sort of get this predictive state of the world and have predicted Running Estimates,Aca,!A? he said.
The system maintains a sense of the mission and predicts future outcomes, Chase said.
Aca,!A"In physics, if you have something thatAca,!a,,cs moving and you know its velocity within a period of time, you know where itAca,!a,,cs going to be,Aca,!A? Chase said. Aca,!A"So, in an analogous way, thatAca,!a,,cs what this does. It actually tries to project the course of the battle and what will happen if you donAca,!a,,ct make corrective action.Aca,!A?
The system continually weighs the userAca,!a,,cs projection against the reality of a mission, something a commander would normally have to calculate on his or her own, Chase said.
If a userAca,!a,,cs mission is not going as planned, the system will help them determine if their course of action needs to be altered to accommodate unforeseen circumstances, he said.
The system is beneficial as the COP among commanders continues to become richer and as more information is provided, Chase said. This makes the task of taking oneAca,!a,,cs own predictions and trying to compare it with the actual outcome of a mission to make a decision more difficult, he said.
Aca,!A"As the COP becomes more and more complicated, that task becomes more and more complicated and what you find people doing is figuring out ways to simplify the path,Aca,!A? Chase said. Aca,!A"You really want a decision support system that helps you with that mental process of trying to decide whether things are going well.Aca,!A?
Running Estimates Services was on display during the Battle Command UsersAca,!a,,c Conference held from May 22 to 24 at the Kansas City International Airport, Kansas City, Mo.