Because of the efforts of all participating nations, interoperability and C4I connectivity made RIMPAC 2004 an unprecedented success...
Command and Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence (C4I) connectivity has always been important to military planners and our coalition partners, but Rim of the Pacific 2004 (RIMPAC) made it a priority. Every other year, Commander, Pacific Fleet (CPF) conducts this multinational naval exercise in the Hawaiian area of responsibility (AOR).
This year, RIMPAC 2004, run by Commander Third Fleet (C3F), as CPF's executive agent, was conducted 29 June - 26 July 2004, with 40 ships, 8 submarines, 125 aircraft and 17,900 personnel from Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States participating. Because of the efforts of all involved, interoperability and C4I connectivity made RIMPAC 2004 an unprecedented success.
C3F stressed C4I reliability across all spectrums during the RIMPAC planning process and made the number one C4I goal to develop the Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System (CENTRIXS) in order to "strive for seamless, uninterrupted connectivity for all RIMPAC participants at sea and ashore." Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Group FIVE (CCDG-5) was chosen as the Commander, Combined Forces Air Component Commander (CFACC) to run the Coalition Air Operations Center (CAOC).
CFACC staff and CAOC watchstanders included members of the C3F and CCDG-5 staffs, U.S. reservists and coalition partners from the British Royal Navy and Canadian and Australian Air Forces. To ensure that our coalition partners, who filled roughly one-third of the CFACC and CAOC billets, would be able to fully participate in the planning and execution of the CAOC duties and support C3F's C4I goals, it was decided that CENTRIXS would be the CAOC's primary secure network. SIPRNET use was allowed by U.S. CAOC personnel if no other network was available. This commitment to CENTRIXS was a first for a RIMPAC exercise.
The challenges faced by the CFACC staff included location of the CAOC, how to establish connectivity across four networks in a multinational environment, how to provide interoperability between all warfare commanders, and how to manage the vast amounts of information (knowledge management) on the networks.
Location. The CAOC, the operational arm of the CFACC, was established using the U. S. Pacific Command's (PACOM) Contingency C4I Package (CCP). The CCP is an initial entry mobile command center facility, consisting of inter-connected tents, electrical generators and portable C4I equipment, from which the Commander, Joint Task Force (CJTF) exercises command and control over assigned forces.
The RIMPAC 2004 CAOC design was the largest footprint ever established by the CCP. The CCP is converting to the Deployable Joint Command and Control (DJC2) after RIMPAC 2004, bringing even more capability to the warfighter.
DJC2 will be tailorable to address Joint Force Commanders' command and control needs for air-, land- and sea-based operations, leveraging the Global Command and Control System (GCCS), other C2 programs, and communications and information systems consistent with the Global Information Grid (GIG) architecture.
C4I Capability. The CCP inventory provided all of the communications capability required, except CENTRIXS and the Theater Battle Management Core System (TBMCS). CENTRIXS was a new capability for the CCP. Although it was obtained for the first time by the CCP specifically in support of RIMPAC, it will be a core capability of the follow-on DJC2 system. The TBMCS server and client machines were provided by C3F and the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR).
CAOC connectivity included wireless NIPRNET and SIPRNET using National Security Agency (NSA) approved network interface cards (NIC), CENTRIXS 4-EYES, Common Operational Picture (COP) Feed/Command and Control PC, TBMCS, Defense Red Switch Network (DRSN), telephone switch, SATCOM, Ultra High Frequency-Line-of-Sight (UHF LOS), EHF, SHF and video conferencing. Of these capabilities, there were two that were a first for RIMPAC: wireless LAN and TBMCS on a CENTRIXS backbone.
Wireless NIPRNET and SIPRNET, not just for RIMPAC, but for all participating forces, were the perfect solutions for a confined space populated with lots of people. There were fewer wires strewn across the tent for local area network (LAN) connectivity, and thus, less trip hazards and broken laptops. Also since there was no cable to run, it was easier to add more computers to the wireless network and move computers between tents as the exercise progressed.
TBMCS machines were installed in the CAOC using CENTRIXS as the backbone to allow coalition interoperability. TBMCS was critical to air tasking order (ATO) development, the major product produced by the CAOC. Coalition partners were able — for the first time during RIMPAC — to have a direct, real-time impact on ATO development.
Interoperability. There were four enclaves with different coalition releasability that were used during RIMPAC 2004. The enclaves were: CENTRIXS 4-EYES (Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, United States), CENTRIXS-JPN (Japan, United States), CENTRIXS-R (Chile, South Korea, United States) and SIPRNET. CENTRIXS-R was a special enclave developed specifically for the exercise and for those countries without access to either CENTRIXS 4-EYES or CENTRIXS-JPN.
During the first week of RIMPAC, the CFACC staff worked closely with the Commander, Combined Task Force (CCTF) staff to improve CENTRIXS interoperability, providing unprecedented coalition interoperability via C4I connectivity to SIPRNET and all three CENTRIXS enclaves. The C4I architecture is shown in Figure 1.
Initially, coalition interoperability was cumbersome. The C4I architecture was designed for the blue forces to communicate on four separate networks; only SIPRNET and CENTRIXS 4-EYES were interoperable. The task force commander's primary means of communication was SIPRNET.
This made communications with all of his forces (whose primary and sometimes only common system was one of the CENTRIXS enclaves) extremely difficult at best. The CFACC and the majority of the blue forces communicated using CENTRIXS 4-EYES. SIPRNET and CENTRIXS 4-EYES were able to interoperate through the use of a mail guard and Web postings that replicated every 30 minutes.
The Japanese navy communicated using CENTRIXS-JPN, and the Korean and Chilean navies communicated using CENTRIXS-R. Communication on CENTRIXS-JPN and CENTRIX-R was further limited by the use of an air-gap which could send e-mails but not attachments between the four enclaves due to concerns over embedded malicious code. The initial design was very disjointed and left most of the participating nations out of the common operational picture.
However, because of the efforts of CFACC, C3F, CPF and SPAWAR personnel, military and civilian alike, interoperability was established before the first operational week of the exercise ended. An air-gap, replication and a Defense Information Infrastructure (DII) mail guard were used to move information across enclaves.
The air-gap required an e-mail to be sent to the CCTF watch who physically transferred the data between each enclave. E-mail had a formatted header to ensure proper delivery. Air-gap personnel transferred the data to disk, virus scanned the disk, ensured proper classification, and then transferred the data to the proper enclave either as an e-mail or Web posting. This was a time consuming process, but it allowed interoperability.
Replication occurred every 30 minutes between SIPRNET and CENTRIXS 4-EYES Web sites via an air-gap at the Pacific Regional Network Operations Center, located at the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station (NCTAMS) Pacific. Replication was transparent to users. The DII mail guard allowed e-mails with or without attachments to be sent directly between SIPRNET and CENTRIXS 4-EYES with no human intervention.
The only requirement was for each account on both SIPRNET and CENTRIXS 4-EYES to be given proper permissions to use the DII mail guard. The ability of the CFACC and RIMPAC forces to have a better common operational picture through this interoperability was unprecedented.
One feature of CENTRIXS that was not able to be used to its full capacity to enhance interoperability in RIMPAC was chat. There was chat capability within, but not between each enclave. Because the enclaves were not connected, unless a user was using SIPRNET, not all blue forces were able to participate in a particular chat session. Therefore, CENTRIXS chat was not used extensively, since the majority of forces could not participate.
This is not reflective of real-world operations where all units in a common operation are communicating on the same circuit, and chat is the primary collaborative tool. Cross-domain chat solutions are being developed and tested, which will some day eliminate this barrier to interoperability.
Knowledge Management. Once connectivity was established, the other challenge to interoperability was knowledge management. We had to manage the presentation and location of the information on Web sites on four enclaves, accessed by users who did not share English as a common first language.
A Web site is crucial to maintaining command and control, situational awareness and the common operational picture. Web posting was accomplished using two methods: posting a file to a CENTRIXS 4-EYES Web site; or sending an e-mail with the attachment to be posted to CENTRIXS-JPN or CENTRIXS-R to an air-gap watch at CCTF.
A considerable amount of time was spent by CAOC personnel managing the CFACC Web site, drafting e-mails in the proper format for the CCTF air-gap and monitoring the correct posting of data by air-gap. This procedure was time intensive. Posting must be timely, the site properly managed, and the data must be easy to find on the Web site in order for the data to get to the right warfighter, at the right time.
The major success of C4I connectivity and interoperability during RIMPAC 2004 was due to the efforts of all involved. In the end, the commanders had a better understanding of the operational situation and were better able to manage the battlespace to provide decisive leadership.
RIMPAC 2004 proved that coalition communications, namely CENTRIXS, can support a joint, coalition and combined task force, as well as standing and emerging partners.
Rear Adm. Curtis' decorations include the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal and other awards. He holds a Master of Science in administration from Central Michigan University and is a graduate of the National Defense University. In February 2004, Rear Adm. Curtis reported to his current position as Commander, Carrier Strike Group Eleven/Commander, Nimitz Strike Group.
Cmdr. Dawn M. Maskell is the CCSG-11 Deputy Information Warfare Commander and Deputy Flag C5I.