Email this Article Email   

CHIPS Articles: Marine Air Ground Task Force C2 and Joint Interoperability

Marine Air Ground Task Force C2 and Joint Interoperability
A Portfolio Approach to Delivering Capability to the Warfighter
By Marty Westphal - April-June 2008
Command and control is the union of the art and science of war. C2 integration enables commanders to exert their leadership and influence throughout the battlespace and to assess the outcome of that exertion. Both "command" — the human component – and "control" — the scientific and technological component — must be developed in balance and harmonized to deliver holistic capabilities to the warfighter.

We must resist the temptation and allure of technological advances, and the complexity oft times associated with these, as the sole solution to the "Department's unified C2 capability."

Simplicity must be a metric in C2 capability development. By so doing, we will enable commander-centric operations, anytime, anywhere, at every echelon, thus increasing combat capability and mission effectiveness. This objective is only attainable through the collaboration and coordination of joint and service C2 capability development.

The art and science of war

C2 is the function that binds all other warfighting functions and enables commanders to extend their influence throughout the battlespace. As a warfighting force, the joint force commander, with Department of Defense assets, possesses unparalleled capability to expend lethal effects. The successful strike against the terrorist al-Zarqawi is an excellent example of our ability to successfully track and hit a high-value target.

The command and control, or decision-making processes, such as adherence to tight rules of engagement, timely estimation of potential collateral damage and fires coordination, are as critical to mission success as the sensors and weapons that prosecute the attack.

Ultimately, the complete doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel and facilities (DOTMLPF) C2 capability supports the commander's ability to determine and achieve desired effects across the battlespace — throughout the range of military operations.

Joint command and control – JC2

American armed forces have fought within their domains for most of their history. The Army fought on land, the Navy was the sole combatant at sea, and air warfare was born as a component of the ground fight. However, in the two World Wars that dominated the 20th century, it became clear that "deconflicting" service domains was no longer practical to maximize combat strength and effectiveness.

In post World War II conflicts, coordinated operations became the new standard; operations were planned to achieve common objectives across the services. Today, the norm is joint operations. It is unconceivable that a single service would conduct operations independently.

The cost and complexity of warfighting will only continue to increase, particularly as this nation strives to maintain its technological and training superiority. Consequently, joint, interdependent operations represent the only solution and will rely on the integrated operations and support of all the services and multinational partners. Joint integration must start with joint command and control (JC2) capability determination and prioritization to establish the convergence points for service capability and requirements development, resource allocation and acquisition.

MAGTF C2

The Marine Corps doctrinally defines command and control as "… the means by which a commander recognizes what needs to be done and sees to it that appropriate actions are taken." The basic elements of the C2 system are people, information and the command and control support structure. The Marine Corps' approach to command and control warfighting functional capability development is known as MAGTF C2 or Marine Air Ground Task Force Command and Control.

The MAGTF is comprised of four main elements: Aviation Combat Element (ACE), Ground Combat Element (GCE), Combat Logistics Element (CLE) and the Command Element (CE). The Supporting Establishment (SE), Marine Corps bases and stations, is also referred to as the fifth MAGTF element. The ele¬ments of the MAGTF are similar to the functional elements of a joint task force.

But the C2 integration of the various elements within the MAGTF posed a challenge. The unique information requirements of each element had to be addressed individually while providing the MAGTF commander the ability to access information from all, as well as that of the supporting establishment across the enterprise.

The initial objective of MAGTF C2 was to “harmonize” the capabilities associated with each MAGTF element to provide “… an end-to-end, fully integrated, cross-functional set of command and control capabilities that include forward deployed as well as reach-back functions” – as directed by the Marine Requirements Oversight Council.

The Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration (DC CD&I) was given the task of making MAGTF C2 a reality and instituted a capability portfolio management approach to achieve this objective. A four-phased approach was adopted. In the first phase, “critical capabilities” were identified, as well as dependencies to other capabilities. A gap and seam analysis was undertaken using a system of systems approach that examined operational architecture mission threads, future warfighting concepts and current doctrine. The critical capabilities were then aligned over time in the Five-Year Defense Plan (FYDP).

The second phase validated integrated architecture artifacts, using operational, systems and technical views mapping to known and approved joint and coalition, Naval, and other service C2 required capabilities and programs of record.

The third phase entailed developing recommendations and gaining subsequent way ahead approval by senior Marine leadership with follow on preparation of required Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS) documentation.

The fourth phase involved capability fielding, monitoring, life-cycle maintenance and assessment. The results of the assessment are then fed back into the process creating an iterative cycle. The cycle would be repeated every two years in coordination with program objective memorandum (POM) development, which would allow adjustments and priority setting by senior leadership based on available resources.

This approach became the basis for Marine C2 capability portfolio management (CPM). MAGTF C2 evolved becoming a strategy to harmonize all aspects of C2 concepts, requirements, training and doctrine. It became an integrating process (see Figure 1) to provide governance and resource prioritization for the C2, communications and networking communities to ensure that the Marine Corps meets the objectives of the strategy across the enterprise.

MAGTF C2 is a system of systems that will provide common, modular and scalable material solutions from the lowest tactical level across the MAGTF at all echelons with reach-back capability across the enterprise.

MAGTF C2 CPM and Implementation Capability portfolio management was initiated for POM-08 development in 2006. The purpose of capability portfolio management is to coordinate and synchronize Marine Capability Integration and Development; Programming, Planning, Budgeting and Execution (PPBE); and acquisition to deliver a complete DOTMLPF capability to warfighters.

This approach required an examination of all current C2 capabilities under development (including programs of record under acquisition), from a holistic, end-to-end DOTMLPF perspective.

Once the examination was completed, a coordinated strategy and vision had to be developed to guide capability development and harmonize and prioritize efforts, and to address cradle-to-grave issues as legacy systems ended service life and new systems entered.

Organizational changes within the Combat Development Command occurred to support the new approach. Extensive and continual coordination is crucial between the various Marine Corps deputy commandants responsible for advocating for the MAGTF elements, the Marine Corps Systems Command and the Headquarters Marine Corps directorates for intelligence, and command, control, communications and computer (C4) systems,and/chief information officers (CIO) sponsors.

MAGTF command and control harmonization under capability portfolio management covers C2 and communications capabilities and supporting systems required for “control” functionality.

The Marine Corps PPBE process validates and resources leadership decisions relative to implementation. The CPM process also requires monitoring and integration with other systems and capabilities, such as the Net-Enabled Command Capability (NECC), to ensure joint integration, alignment and convergence.

Ultimately, the primary objective of capability portfolio management is to provide vertical and horizontal DOTMLPF coordination and synchronization across the capability development, budgeting and acquisition processes as well as existing legacy programs of record.

The major programs of record that comprise the MAGTF C2 portfolio were defined, approved by Marine leadership, and documented with Marine Corps Systems Command responsibility for acquisition.

Defining programs was needed to coordinate the fielding of new capabilities and retiring legacy programs across the MAGTF and for determining the development and prioritization of capability sets.

MAGTF C2 CONOPS

The MAGTF C2 concept of operations documents the C2 capability requirements for the Marine Corps over a seven-year period. The CONOPS contains the strategic vision for command and control and the Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration’s C2 intent to enable the synchronization of Marine Corps and DoD capability development, resourcing and acquisition processes.

The purpose of the MAGTF command and control CONOPS is to provide the methodology and structure for implementing C2 CPM within the Marine Corps to provide the warfighter with scalable, modular reachback as well as a deployed, turnkey C2 solution needed on the battlefield today and into the future.

The CONOPS defines the means for the Marine Corps to migrate from the legacy, stove-piped systems that currently support C2 to a holistic solution of people, processes and technology that support operational needs.

The MAGTF C2 CONOPS describes steps on the path to achieving the MAGTF C2 vision. It contains a “500 Day Plan” to align C2 capability development with the resource process while providing the flexibility to adapt and spiral-in new technologies over the seven-year duration. It lays the foundation for developing and fielding C2 capabilities that will complement the scalable, task-organized nature of the MAGTF and enhance the capabilities of expeditionary maneuver warfare by achieving net-centricity, implementing Naval FORCEnet, and reflecting the principles of the JC2 and Net-Centric Functional Concepts, which recognize the importance of collaboration between experts and decision makers across echelons and functions.

The CONOPS recognizes and addresses the foundational approach to warfighting and C2 articulated in the capstone Marine Corps Doctrinal Publications (MCDP) “Warfighting” and “Command and Control.”

Marines accept uncertainty in battle, recognize warfare is a clash of wills between opponents, and that mission orders and an understanding of commander’s intent are critical to mission accomplishment. The objective of Marine C2 development is to “unleash the initiative and aggressiveness of subordinates to cope with unforeseen problems and exploit fleeting battlefield opportunities… [At] its fundamental level, Marine command and control leverages technology to provide increased agility and faster more effective decision making.”

MAGTF C2 Integrated Capabilities

The MAGTF combat operations center is the focal point of C2 capability and a priority for capability portfolio management. In accordance with the MAGTF C2 CONOPS, “all MAGTF combat operation centers (COCs) will possess a ‘common’ command and control and communication systems infrastructure.”

Individual commanders will still have the ability to configure and display information within their individual COCs to support their decision-making processes. However, the infrastructure, built upon common, modular, interoperable and scalable components, will not change across the command, ground combat, aviation combat and logistics combat elements of the MAGTF.

Also key are common procedures based on comprehensive, robust individual and unit training. Capability Sets (CAPSETS) were developed to deliver integrated MAGTF C2 capabilities across MAGTF echelons. A Capability Set is defined as a grouping of services or capabilities into an operational set of capabilities that is required to support the organizational structure of the MAGTF. It is a “fieldable” increment of capabilities that supports one or more organizational nodes or operational facilities.

MAGTF C2 CAPSETS address the need to support the operational command and control requirements specific to the expeditionary needs of the MAGTF. They represent the primary method to provide an end-to-end, fieldable capability that is tailored to a specific organizational node within the MAGTF, including specific functional requirements.

The following is a more detailed explanation of CAPSETS.
• CAPSET I is the Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF)-level combat operation center, or I MEF COC used during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
• CAPSET II is the MEF’s major subordinate command-level (MSClevel) COC, such as the Marine Aircraft Wing.
• CAPSET III is the regimental, air group and logistic group-level COC.
• CAPSET IV is the battalion and squadron-level COC.
• CAPSET V is the term for C2 requirements below the battalion and squadron-level COC and represents the integration of requirements down to the individual Marine.

Common, modular and scalable CAPSETS will alleviate the need for continual training on disparate systems, as well as reducing maintenance, repair and replacement part costs, and they support the ability to “fix forward.” CAPSETS provide a simplified, intuitive user interface to decrease the training required on the system.

Training and Education Command (TECOM), the Marine Corps schoolhouse, will receive CAPSETS so that Marines are trained, capable and confident in the C2 environment before going to the operating forces.

Lessons learned from CAPSETS in theater now enable spiral-in DOTMLPF improvements gleaned from the Marines in combat with an emphasis on enhancing CAPSETS capabilities while reducing training requirements. CAPSETS under development are being designed to be deployable at and from the sea for use by Marine Expeditionary Units (MEUs).

What MAGTF C2 Will Deliver

MAGTF command and control is not about technology, it is about supporting commanders and decision makers melding the art and science of C2. War remains a human challenge requiring human solutions. MAGTF C2 is command-centric and focuses on the warfighters serving their information needs in support of decision-making across all MAGTF elements. MAGTF C2 provides capabilities founded on approved joint and Marine Corps warfighting concepts and doctrine, enabled by operational architectures.

MAGTF C2 identifies and connects Marine-unique and specific warfighting capabilities and requirements to Naval and joint initiatives and charts a path to a Marine net-centric capability in the future that is “born joint.”

MAGTF C2 capabilities will:
•Link people and information.
•Be integrated with joint and coalition forces.
•Allow dispersed forces to coordinate all warfighting functions.
•Facilitate decentralized decision-making.
•Enhance situational awareness at all echelons.
•Provide access to theater and national assets.
•Provide ability to disseminate information throughout the force and with mission partners
•Support integrated collaborative planning efforts.
•Function in any environment – afloat, ashore or on the move.

Achieving these MAGTF C2 capabilities requires a strong partnership with the designated Joint Command and Control Capability Portfolio Manager (JC2 CPM), U.S. Joint Forces Command.

There are many challenges to realizing MAGTF C2. The JC2 CPM, by addressing C2 challenges common to the entire joint force, including information assurance, data strategy implementation, service oriented architecture (SOA) and net-centric services development, and interoperability with our allies, coalition, and agency partners, will lend support to MAGTF C2 development.

Joint command and control developers must also consider the human dimension of conflict, examine and develop nontechnical approaches and solutions as vigorously and aggressively as technological solutions, and “red team” all potential solution sets by constantly scrutinizing and examining vulnerabilities from a joint force perspective.

By so doing, JC2 capabilities portfolio management enables the services to focus on addressing those unique requirements associated with tactical engagements at the edge, such as enabling integrated communications and situational awareness to the squad, thus freeing small unit leaders and Marines to more effectively “shoot, move and communicate.”

The ultimate objective of MAGTF C2 is to provide a holistic, end-to-end, turnkey command and control capability to execute commander’s intent, facilitate implicit communications, visualize battlespace “reality,” promote initiative, enable centralized command and decentralized control, and ultimately accomplish the mission while proliferating decision-makers throughout the battlespace.

Marine Corps Combat Development Command: www.mccdc.usmc.mil

MAGTF C2 CPM Implementation
• Covers C2 Communications Capabilities and Systems
– Validated and resourced by the Marine Corps PPBE process
– Approved by Warfighting Investment Program Evaluation Board (PEB)
• Requires monitoring and integration with other systems and capabilities
– Programs of record validated and resourced across other PEBs
– Ensure joint integration, alignment and convergence
• Approximately 50+ programs of record funded in the FYDP
– Capability Sets (CAPSETS) with required end-to-end components
– Identified from the various families of systems
Figure 1.  MAGTF C2 Capability Portfolio Management Integrating Process
Figure 1. MAGTF C2 Capability Portfolio Management Integrating Process

HAWRAN, Iraq (Jan. 31, 2008) – Army Staff Sgt. Craig Emery and Lance Cpl. Nathan Ishmael, 3rd platoon, Alpha Company, Marine Wing Support Squadron 372, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, investigate a suspicious object found with traces of explosive residue that was found by a military working dog Jan. 31. The suspicious object was discovered during a cache sweep of the Hawran date groves. Photo by Cpl. Scott McAdam.
HAWRAN, Iraq (Jan. 31, 2008) – Army Staff Sgt. Craig Emery and Lance Cpl. Nathan Ishmael, 3rd platoon, Alpha Company, Marine Wing Support Squadron 372, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, investigate a suspicious object found with traces of explosive residue that was found by a military working dog Jan. 31. The suspicious object was discovered during a cache sweep of the Hawran date groves. Photo by Cpl. Scott McAdam.
Related CHIPS Articles
Related DON CIO News
Related DON CIO Policy

CHIPS is an official U.S. Navy website sponsored by the Department of the Navy (DON) Chief Information Officer, the Department of Defense Enterprise Software Initiative (ESI) and the DON's ESI Software Product Manager Team at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific.

Online ISSN 2154-1779; Print ISSN 1047-9988
Hyperlink Disclaimer