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CHIPS Articles: Joint Integration and Interoperability of Special Operations

Joint Integration and Interoperability of Special Operations
SPAWAR supporting the GWOT and Warfighter
By Capt. James P. Idle and Capt. Kay Hire - January-March 2007
The Joint Integration and Interoperability of Special Operations (JIISO) was chartered to employ multiservice and other Defense Department support, personnel and equipment to investigate, evaluate and make recommendations to improve the operational effectiveness of the joint integration and interoperability of both Special Operations Forces and conventional forces.

The mission of JIISO is to increase the integration and interoperability of Special Operations and conventional forces for the joint force commander during the planning and execution of maneuver and fire support coordination during tactical operations.

The goal is to generate more timely actions and increase opportunities for the warfighter with less potential for fratricide.

The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) escorted the JIISO Special Operations and conventional forces Mobile Training Team aboard the USS Ohio (SSGN 726). USS Ohio is the first of the new transformational capabilities submarines for the joint force warfighter in the global war on terror. It is the first of four fleet ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) to be converted into SSGNs, or guided-missile submarines.

The Navy is engaged in the conversion of three additional SSBNs into SSGNs. One of the key capabilities that will involve SPAWAR is in the SSGN's role as the JFMCC, or Joint Force Maritime Component Commander, and in connectivity to the Global Information Grid through FORCEnet because Special Operations Forces capabilities will include joint forces as well as Navy SEALs.

The JIISO will participate in upcoming cruises on Ohio and USS Florida (SSGN 728) to test and evaluate Special Operations and conventional forces integration and interoperability in Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles deconfliction and the Naval Fires Network, to name a few.

In February 2004, the Department of Defense Joint Test and Evaluation (JT&E) Senior Advisory Council recommended that the JIISO and JT&E be chartered by the Deputy Director Air Warfare, who reports to the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation within the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

The U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) are the JT&E co-sponsors.

The JIISO JT&E focused on evaluating the military decision-making process, the Marine Corps planning process and the supporting system of systems methodology used by both Special Operations and conventional forces to synchronize combat operations.

Prior to Operation Enduring Freedom, Special Operations Forces generally operated autonomously, removed operationally, logistically and geographically from most conventional forces. As a consequence, Special Operations Forces relied largely on their own firepower. Special Operations and conventional forces were normally deconflicted through time and space separation rather than through a concerted effort to integrate operations.

The need for institutionalized integration and interoperability of Special Operations and conventional forces grew out of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. The introduction of large conventional forces into those theaters of operation, already occupied by sizable Special Operations Forces, presented new problems and, on several occasions, resulted in delayed actions and the potential for fratricide.

Without written doctrine, the degree of successful integration was attributable to the professionalism of the leadership, personal relationships developed in the battlespace and ad hoc solutions developed by the Soldiers on the ground. To become truly integrated, written codified procedures needed to be developed and incorporated into training, education and doctrine. Addressing this problem, the JIISO developed test issues for two field tests.

The test issues for field test 1 established a baseline and concentrated on the military decision-making process and the Marine Corps planning process and execution steps for both. It also established a system of systems support baseline for the integration of forces including command, control and communication systems and collaboration applications.

Field test 2 examined how recommendations for enhancements, like using checklists and a system of systems methodology, improved the integration and interoperability of conventional and Special Operations Forces. Today, revisions to joint publications are addressing these issues.

Research and testing, also revealed the system of systems supporting Special Operations and conventional forces integration and interoperability are frequently not interoperable.

To address these issues, the JIISO produced an integration and interoperability handbook, a Situational Awareness Systems Guide, computer-based training applications and also developed and tested Special Operations and conventional forces integration and interoperability checklists based on analytical processes.

JIISO handbooks and systems guides contain tactics, techniques and procedures to improve the effectiveness of integrated conventional and Special Operations Forces, and streamline interoperability between U.S. combatant commands and global war on terrorism partners.

The checklists and associated handbook have been well received by units preparing for deployment and currently serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Army has also adopted JIISO products for inclusion in its professional development courses.

A digital copy of the handbook has been posted on Army, Navy, Marine, Special Operations Forces and USJFCOM Web sites and is available on the SIPRNET.

The success the JIISO had in reducing fratricide potential, promoting more timely actions and fewer missed opportunities for the warfighter, led to its nomination as the integration and interoperability branch within U.S. Special Operations Command. As a result, effective Dec. 1, 2006, the JIISO JT&E team was incorporated into the USSOCOM Special Operations Knowledge and Futures Directorate J7.

As the host combatant commander for the Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration scheduled for June 2007, U.S. European Command will incorporate JIISO products into CWID 2007. CWID will be conducted at Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany, and at multiple sites across the United States.

The SPAWAR JIISO team will continue to provide support.

Capt. James P. Idle is the SPAWAR program manager for the JIISO team. Capt. Kay Hire is the former SPAWAR program manager for the JIISO team.

The SPAWAR JIISO Mobile Training Team aboard the USS Ohio (SSGN 726), left to right: Army Master Sgt. Reuben De Leone, Army Lt. Col. Walton, Richard Bernier, Army Maj. Shannon Hume, Navy Capt. James Idle with ship’s company: FTC Edward Quinlan, Lt. Jake Forett and MM2 Mike Garcia.
The SPAWAR JIISO Mobile Training Team aboard the USS Ohio (SSGN 726), left to right: Army Master Sgt. Reuben De Leone, Army Lt. Col. Walton, Richard Bernier, Army Maj. Shannon Hume, Navy Capt. James Idle with ship’s company: FTC Edward Quinlan, Lt. Jake Forett and MM2 Mike Garcia.

Nov. 9, 2006 – SPAWAR has assisted in the integration of JIISO products to global forces as seen here in Stuttgart, Germany. Capt. Kay Hire, then JIISO program manager, discusses JIISO products with Navy Cmdr. Greg Stephens, left, and Air Force Maj. Kevin Wesley, both from U.S. European Command International Interoperability, Concepts and Experimentation (ECJ9). Department of Defense photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Devin L. Fisher.
Nov. 9, 2006 – SPAWAR has assisted in the integration of JIISO products to global forces as seen here in Stuttgart, Germany. Capt. Kay Hire, then JIISO program manager, discusses JIISO products with Navy Cmdr. Greg Stephens, left, and Air Force Maj. Kevin Wesley, both from U.S. European Command International Interoperability, Concepts and Experimentation (ECJ9). Department of Defense photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Devin L. Fisher.
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