The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) recently celebrated the legacy of the Global Command and Control System – Joint (GCCS-J) in recognition of 20 years of service to our nation’s warfighters.
GCCS-J is a command and control (C2) system that provides vital connectivity to systems used to plan, execute, and manage military operations for both joint and multinational operations. GCCS-J replaced the Worldwide Military Command and Control System (WWMCCS) in 1996.
One of the earliest members of the GCCS-J Program office — Systems Engineering Branch Chief Herbert Diew — reflected on his experience in the early days of GCCS, and in rolling out a new system to the combatant commanders.
“I had just pinned on lieutenant colonel when I got to DISA in late 1994. The GCCS-J Program office had stood up sometime in 1993. I went through the initial planning, building, and the initial roll-out,” said Diew. “The idea was to modernize the Worldwide Military Command and Control System with a system that was less costly, more maintainable, more secure, required less floor space, utilized modern technology, and would provide near-real-time situational awareness to the combatant commanders in the field.”
Diew also reflected on DISA’s ability to rapidly provide updates to the system during the early stages of development.
“GCCS-J was truly agile back in the beginning — before agile became a buzzword. We would build software, test it, and then get it into the hands of the operators. The operators and users would immediately voice their opinion about the usability of the software. If it didn’t meet their standards, we would bring it back in for reevaluation and testing, then put it back in the hands of the users. We could turn something around — depending on what it was — in months,” said Diew.
The suite of mission applications combines select command and control capabilities into a comprehensive, interoperable system by exchanging imagery, intelligence, status of forces, and planning information. GCCS-J is the principal foundation for dominant battlespace awareness, providing an integrated, near real-time picture of the battlespace necessary to conduct joint and multinational operations.
In a memo to DISA Vice Director Air Force Maj. Gen. Sarah Zabel, Joint Staff Deputy Director for Nuclear, Homeland Defense and Current Operations Air Force Brig. Gen. James C. Dawkins, Jr., expressed pride and confidence in the GCCS-J Program’s ability to provide vital command and control and information technology support to warfighters.
“Through the years, DISA's leaders, program managers, and engineers have ensured that this vital C2 system was on the firing line to meet the challenges of ending ethnic cleansing in Eastern Europe; surviving the dire predictions of Y2K; and combatting the terrorism that exploded onto the world stage on Sept. 11, 2001,” read Dawkins’ memo.
Dawkins also conveyed the importance of leveraging future advances in C2 technology as GCCS-J enters its third decade of operations.
“Since 1996, the GCCS-J has met the challenge. The combatant commanders rely on this, the joint task forces rely on this. People don’t always understand that the combatant commanders are making decisions based off of what they’re seeing in front of them and what the facts are on the ground,” said DOD Joint Staff Command Systems Operations Division Deputy Greg Maronski, referring to the situational awareness provided by GCCS-J.