Fast & Flexible
Marine Corps looks for command and control on the go
By OTTO KREISHER, Special Correspondent
Communications on the Move
able to better share information
with civilian relief organizations,
The first program is called
Mobile Modular Command and
Control (M2C2). ONR spent about
$25 million over four years to
explore “the kinetic control on the
move concept for the Marine
Corps,” said John Moniz, the program manager at ONR.
The goals are to have I-band
communications for reach back to
higher echelons through communications satellites while moving, and
then distribute that information to
other staff vehicles while they also
are moving, Moniz said.
Kevin Holt, the program manager for Marine Air-Ground Task Force Command and Control Systems at
Marine Corps Systems Command, said the service had
a requirement for “on-the-move command and control” so that “when the commander is out in the battle-space, moving from one location to another,” he can
stay in touch with a command center.
The absence of that capability became evident during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, when separate
Marine columns were moving rapidly toward Baghdad
while Army units were advancing on even more distant
routes, and the whole operation was being commanded from a joint command center in a different country.
To get satellite connections at that time, commanders had to stop so their communications experts could
erect cumbersome antenna and receiver systems,
which could take hours.
The systems now being developed could enable
satellite contact in as little as 15 minutes, while the
command vehicle is moving. And that could be accomplished by Marines with a wide range of skills, not just
a few communications technicians, Moniz said.
Commanders in the field need to be able to maintain communications and receive extensive digital support at great distances,
both while rolling across the battlefield and during humanitarian or
■ Marines now typically use UHF tactical communications.
■ The goal of the Mobile Modular Command and Control program
is to put satellite communications on the move.
■ The Office of Naval Research also is watching to see what
capabilities come out of the Army’s Warfighter Information
The Marine Corps, with its expeditionary mind-set and the challenge of engaging in irregular
warfare, increasingly is focusing on operating
with small, highly mobile and widely dispersed units
tied together with effective communications.
But that operational concept is handicapped by the
inability to receive and exchange voice and data messages through high-volume satellite networks while on
the move. Currently, Marine units on the move typically use UHF tactical communications, which has relatively low data rates and limited range.
That lack of mobile long-range communications is
being attacked with a developmental program funded
by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and could be
addressed in a more comprehensive way by a major
program managed by the Army.
If the two initiatives progress as scheduled, Marine
Corps tactical unit commanders within five years
should be able to maintain communications and receive extensive digital support at great distances while
rolling across the battlefield in their command vehicles. And in noncombat humanitarian assistance or
disaster relief missions, those commanders might be