An experimental Windows-based software application that helped the military
services coordinate fire support missions in Iraq could be the answer to avoiding
friendly fire in future conflicts, officials said.
Pushing for the adoption of this technology is the U.S. Joint Forces Command,
which first tested the system in the 2002 Millennium Challenge war-fighting
The U.S. Central Command requested the battle-planning software, called Joint
Time Sensitive Targeting Manager, for use in the Iraq war, even though the system
had never been employed in live operations before. CentCom commanders nevertheless
decided to take the JTSTM to the field, in the absence of any alternative system
that could both expedite the mission coordination process and allow the services
to see a common picture of the battlefield.
“The software was specifically designed to force commanders to look at
a target before it can be executed,” said Lt. Col. Mark Werth, head of
the joint fires initiative at JFCOM.
Ground, air and maritime commanders who are logged on the JTSTM network can
pinpoint a potentially risky mission—where the target may be too close
to civilians or friendly forces. Via chat-rooms and e-mail, war planners can
collectively assess the situation and figure out options, Werth explained. “Everyone
is collaborating,” which makes this technology a “great de-confliction
tool,” he said.
Typically, the Air Force would be chasing a target on the ground, without the
Army or the special operations forces knowing about the mission. With the JTSTM,
every component is aware of what the other services are doing. If the Air Force
acquires a target, the air component commander feeds it into the target queue,
and the target automatically pops up for everyone on the network to see.
The JTSTM is one of the software applications developed under the ADOCS program,
or Automated Deep Operations Coordination System.
Originally sponsored in the late 1990s by the Defense Advanced Research Projects
Agency, ADOCS is a joint mission management suite of software tools and interfaces,
designed to help coordinate operations across a theater of war.
None of the services adopted ADOCS as a “program of record,” Werth
noted. But the Defense Department is funding the project through 2004 as an
Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration.
The ADOCS application used in Millennium Challenge was modified substantially
for Operation Iraqi Freedom, mostly to accommodate non-traditional participants,
such as the CIA.
Robert Cabellos, program manager for ADOCS at General Dynamics C4I, described
the technology as “glueware” that takes data from many databases
and consolidates the information on one single screen.
GD engineers were deployed to OIF to assist with ADOCS operations, Cabellos
said. “We were actively involved in developing the tactics, techniques,
procedures and the concept of operations for joint time sensitive targeting,”
he said in an interview.
ADOCS reaches into various databases, Cabellos said, “to provide the
users one-stop shopping for de-confliction.”
Among the databases that ADOCS taps are the Global Command and Control System
(location of friendly forces), the Theater Battle Management Core System (air
tasking orders and air space control orders) and the Joint Targeting Toolkit
(restricted target list and no-strike target list).
The operators must have access to the Defense Department’s classified
network, the Siprnet. Commanders can decide which operators are allowed to input
changes. Most only get a read-only capability.
Joint Forces Command plans to transition many of the ADOCS applications into
service programs, Werth said.
Under the so-called FIOP program (family of interoperable operational pictures),
JFCOM was directed to incorporate the JTSTM into current systems, such as the
Army’s AFATDS fire-control system and the Naval Fire Control System. A
maritime version of ADOCS, called the land attack warfare system, is the baseline
for the NFCS.
The scope of JFCOM’s joint fires initiative will grow over time, said
Werth. “Over the next two years, we want to do something like we do for
time-sensitive targeting, but do it for all joint fires.” The same “seamless
horizontal knowledge base” across the services that was achieved with
the JTSTM would be applied to any targeting mission, not just those that pop
up on short notice.
JFCOM wants to transition the technology into service programs by 2006. “We
envision some kind of middleware that lets these systems talk to one other,”
Werth said. “We don’t envision new hardware boxes and new pieces
of gear that folks have to cart around in the field.”
An upcoming joint-fires “requirements meeting” will include about
50 representatives from the services and regional combatant commander staffs,
said Werth. “Everyone you talk to says this is a great idea. We have to
make it work.” But as is the case with most joint programs, “when
it comes down to begging for money, it’s always a little bit more difficult.”
Despite the accomplishments seen in OIF in joint-fires coordination, the process
is anything but smooth, said Navy Capt. Roy Rogers, who helped plan the air
war at the Combined Air Operations Center. In OIF, he said, the services managed
to integrate fixed-wing, rotary-wing and artillery fires successfully, Rogers
told an industry conference. “But I’m not going to tell you it wasn’t
without a lot of consternation. We learned a lot. We need to keep working that