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Joint airspace management and deconfliction: a chance to trade in a stovepipe for network-centric warfare.

The lack of significant situational awareness in our combined air defense system, which involved major systems such as Patriot, Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS), and Aegis [was a significant shortfall in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)]. We tend to assume that data are routinely communicated from one system to the other, that targets are correlated, and target information is shared and assimilated by all. We believe that we are a long way from that vision. The communication links, the ability to correlate target tracks by disparate sensors, and the overall information architecture are simply not there.

--Defense Science Board Task Force on Patriot System Performance

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THE MILITARY IS transitioning from a stovepipe (vertically designed system incapable of integrating properly with other, similar systems owned and operated by sister services) to a network-centric- warfare (NCW) operating environment as described in Joint Vision 2020. As part of that transition, a concept of airspace management in the battlespace is being developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory / Rome Research Site (AFRL/RRS) Requirements and Operations Division. That laboratory is working in conjunction with the Air Force Command and Control and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center (AFC2ISRC/DOR/ DOO) to develop the joint airspace management and deconfliction (JASMAD) system. The program is being coordinated with Air Combat Command (ACC) and Air Mobility Command (AMC) airspace managers, as well as with all interested combatant command (COCOM) service or agency personnel and is being developed with strong support from the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense. (1) The JASMAD represents an opportunity to reduce or eliminate stovepipe mentalities that continue to thwart true interservice interoperability. Throughout the Department of Defense (DOD) numerous command and control (C2) systems have been conceptualized, programmed, funded, and built for the purposes of planning and executing aerial operations that cannot adequately

1. share databases,

2. exchange mission-essential information,

3. allow collaborative planning in a dynamic environment, and

4. exchange mission-execution information.

These C2 systems have numerous names but can be referred to collectively under the rubric "air and space operation centers" (AOC). Simply stated, these AOCs are not network centric. They are the product of stovepipe systems built by major commands within the Air Force (ACC's Falconer AOCs and AMC's tanker airlift control center [TACC]). The Army air-ground system, the Marine Air Command and Control System, the Navy's aircraft-carrier operations control center, as well as the joint special operations air component operations center were also built with stovepipe mentalities.

By definition, the JASMAD will be network centric because it is an attempt to deconflict anything and everything that flies in the battlespace. That means all the data available about everything flying in the airspace will be incorporated into the JASMAD, no matter the owning service. This article introduces the JASMAD, describes its current planned capabilities, proposes additional capabilities for the JASMAD, identifies current problems, and offers potential solutions--all with a goal of promoting a network-centric mentality throughout the DOD.

What Is Joint Airspace Management and Deconfliction?

The JASMAD will be an airspace management and deconfliction application designed to replace the airspace deconfliction system (ADS) module within the theater battle management core system (TBMCS) of the Falconer AOC. The TBMCS is the system that currently provides the combat air forces and the joint/combined forces with an automated and integrated capability to plan and execute the air battle plan for operations and intelligence personnel at the combined AOC (CAOC) and individual unit levels. It provides the air commander with the means to plan, direct, and control all theater air operations in support of command objectives. It also coordinates with engaged ground and maritime elements. The TBMCS can be tailored to large-scale or small-scale operations in varying intensities of warfare, and it implements interoperable functionality with other command, control, communications, computer, and intelligence (C4I) systems involved in theater air warfare during military operations. (2)

In another transformation effort, the TBMCS is expected to be replaced by the theater battle operations net-centric environment (TBONE) by the time the JASMAD is developed and fielded. The TBONE will have all the functionality of the TBMCS but will offer the additional capabilities of networking 37 applications from the AOC in a multilevel security environment. The TBONE will enable air tasking orders (ATO) to be shared at the wing level so wing staffs know what airplanes are being tasked in the coming days or weeks; for example, it can be linked to airborne aircraft so the aircrew members know immediately what munitions they are scheduled to use. Air and ground commanders will have access to immediate data about all missions within a specific area and time frame, thereby greatly enhancing battle damage assessment. The recent Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment 2006 (JEFX '06) ending 28 April 2006 included a field test of the TBONE. (3)

Airspace Deconfliction

Once the airspace master plan is built, the airspace control measures (ACM) designed to operate within it are input into the ADS module of the TBMCS. Those ACMs are the bits and pieces that eventually go into transforming airspace into battlespace, and airspace managers arrange those ACMs to set the flying rules in the battlespace.

The airspace control plan provides the details of the approved requests for ACMs. The daily airspace control order (ACO) implements the airspace control plan to provide the greatest flexibility and extent of use of airspace for all of the airframes in that airspace, thereby enabling all participating partners to accomplish the mission safely. The ACO can be published either as part of the ATO or as a separate document. The ACOs can be very similar to each other from one day to the next, but even the subtlest of changes must be clearly identified to the pilot and then .own precisely. To illustrate the fluid, dynamic nature of airspace management in the battlespace, during OIF an average of 1,200 ACMs were used to produce the ACO on a daily basis, and the ACO was changed an average of 12 times every day. (4)

The Air Tasking Order

The TBMCS is important in producing the ATO, which tasks air forces' components, subordinate units, C2 agencies, projected sorties, capabilities, and/or forces to targets and specific missions. It also provides specific instructions including call signs, targets, controlling agencies, and other general instructions. Currently, the ATO is produced in a 24-hour cycle. At any given moment, there are three versions of the joint ATO either in execution or planning/production at the AOC--today's plan, tomorrow's plan, and the following day's plan.

Once the ATO is loaded, the Web-based airspace deconfliction (WebAD) within the TBMCS performs a basic deconfliction analysis based on estimated launch times and routes, using minimal amounts of data including departure base, estimated time of departure, target location, and estimated arrival time at the final landing location. WebAD issues alerts when it detects conflicts. The ATO has not been passed to the units that will fly the mission at this point, so the takeoff times or flight/mission profiles have not yet been locked into the ATO.

A shortcoming of WebAD is that it cannot include all objects flying in the ATO. Although interservice coordination and cooperation are improving, there are still situations where some components of joint and combined air forces are not communicating with the others. Not all the events that could occur in the airspace are predictable, and there are some data that simply cannot be loaded into the TBMCS. For example, Army Tactical Missile Systems can be launched at the discretion of the combined force land component commander after proper real-time coordination, but those launches are not always entered into the ATO. Still another limiting factor of the deconfliction capabilities of the TBMCS is the sheer number of WebAD alerts that must be resolved on a daily basis to produce the ATO. Recall that the ATO production is on a 24-hour cycle. The war won't stop and wait for the next ATO. Production operators from the OIF CAOC report that it is virtually impossible to deconflict each and every alert with the current system.

What Joint Airspace Management and Deconfliction Will Do

The JASMAD will not only completely revolutionize the entire process of producing the ACO and deconflicting the ATO, but it will also perform a much more refined deconfliction analysis during the building of the ATO--it will perform deconfliction analysis during the execution of the ATO, a function ADS currently lacks. JASMAD objectives are to develop a single, joint-theater airspace management and dynamic deconfliction capability to coordinate real-time ATO planning and execution among the service components and coalition partners to minimize conflicts. (5)

The current planning capabilities of the JASMAD include providing a four-dimensional (four-D) visual picture for the purposes of airspace management. It will depict latitude, longitude, and altitude as well as provide time orientation. The TBMCS operator will be able to select and sort variables within the airspace based on criteria such as mission packages, launch times, time on target, target areas, altitude blocks, and air-refueling tracks, among others. AOC airspace managers will be able to import routes (including routes within civil airspace) and operating areas to facilitate the creation of ACMs. One anticipates that the end-planning product will be the ability to produce completely deconflicted packages. It will also allow "faster than real time" .y-out of the ATO, in effect, a "look ahead" preview that will allow collaborative planning while simultaneously showing the airspace deconfliction.

During the execution phase of the ATO, the JASMAD will allow four-D airspace observation of ATO/ACO execution. It will prepare the ACMs for dissemination and enable depiction of them in near-real time (all pertinent nodes), as well as possess the capability to offer replanning and retasking options during execution of the ATO. Operators will be able to change routes and preview the effects on airspace management through the real-time fly-out feature. Conflict alerts will be generated automatically from the proposed route changes. The console operator can resolve the conflicts even before a hazardous air-traffic report is generated.

What Should the JASMAD Be Able to Do?

JASMAD functionality should interoperate with the common operational picture (COP) and/or its replacement, the single integrated air picture (SIAP). Every commander has a thirst for seeing "the big picture" while still being able to focus clearly on the finite points within it. It is only natural to want to have at one's disposal as much information as possible. The COP is a technological attempt to meet that thirst and an application within the Global Command and Control System (GCCS, the main operating system of ACC's Falconer AOCs). The GCCS correlates and fuses data from multiple sensors and intelligence in sources to produce a graphical representation of the battlespace to provide commanders with the situational awareness necessary for rapid, effective decision making.

The COP consists of both geospatial displays of the battlespace and intranets that extend vertically through several different levels and serves as a repository of information for decision makers. One hopes that the COP will lead to faster and better synchronized planning and execution decisions. One can see evidence of success in the operational and tactical decision making exhibited during OIF as compared to that in Operation Desert Storm. The COP was instrumental in the methodical and efficient destruction of elite Republican Guard divisions while aiding in quick response with precision attack of high-value targets by theater assets. (6) If the JASMAD can deliver the capabilities it is programmed for, it will improve the commander's view of the COP and provide the ability to play out air-strike options through the COP in a look-ahead or fast-forward mode. When air-strike or other missions conflict, the JASMAD will automatically generate alerts and also give the commander and staff real-time visual images of resolution options.

One issue that the JASMAD must help improve is deconfliction of weapons systems that transit multiple AOCs. One specific example, requiring different C2 interface requirements, is global mobility. The maturation of the C-17 and its direct-delivery mission means it routinely departs from virtually any point in the world, crosses numerous COCOM boundaries, crosses the forward edge of the battle area (FEBA), lands or air-drops its package, passes the FEBA, and transits several more COCOMs before landing at its final destination. Compounding the complexity of transiting numerous AOCs, the duration of many (if not most) global mobility missions may require planning and deconfliction in all three phases of the ATO cycle: the current, the next, and the strategic (long-range) ATO. Since global mobility missions are controlled by AMC's TACC, JASMAD must have complete connectivity and interoperability with the TACC.

The Tanker Airlift Control Center

The TACC C2 system does not interoperate well with the GCCS, the COCOM's air-picture portion of the COP in other AOCs or the TBMCS. The TACC operates within the Global Decision Support System 2 and presents a visual and electronic presentation of virtually every airlift and tanker asset in AMC's inventory. Operators can click on an aircraft to determine its departure or arrival time, mission segments, and maintenance status. One can also drill down to the cargo and passenger manifest of each aircraft.

During the early stages of OIF, the only way to input the mission data generated by the TACC into the TBMCS of OIF's CAOC was to do so manually. Eventually a patch was built, and the airlift input module allowed download of four data points into the TBMCS: the airlift schedule (showing separate-leg, multi-day missions), arrival messages, departure messages, and advisory messages. (7) However, much more information would be useful to the COCOM, and AMC is working with ACC to improve this essential interface to the TBMCS, which will ultimately benefit the JASMAD. Once the interface between the TACC and the TBMCS is completed, mobility missions departing from outside the AOC's area will be automatically updated in the JASMAD to refine the deconfliction data in the current, next, and strategic phases of the ATO.

JASMAD developers face the challenge of seamlessly interfacing multiple AOCs. A proper interface with the Joint Mission Planning System (JMPS); communication, navigation, surveillance / air traffic management (CNS/ATM) system; and the tactical digital information link system (commonly known as Link 16 by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) with the TBMCS and JASMAD can help solve this problem. A description of each of those systems and their potential tie in to the TBMCS and JASMAD follows. (8)

The Joint Mission Planning System

The JMPS currently in development will replace the Mission Planning System and Portable Flight Planning Software that some aircrews use today to plan their missions. The JMPS is intended to be a Web-centric system that will automatically tie all elements of the mission-planning process together. Aircrew or mission planners will be able to sit at a terminal or laptop, gather all pertinent information required (such as weather, notices to Airmen, departure- and-arrival airfield information [runway length, elevation, etc.], and aircraft-specific information [payload, fuel, configuration, etc.]) and thereby plan flights/missions. The resulting mission plans will be downloadable to the aircraft navigation systems.

Certain aircraft-specific applications will also generate such information as takeoff and landing data. The JMPS will allow the mission planner to take rudimentary information from the ATO and output a much more detailed mission profile. If mission-profile data were imported back to the JASMAD and linked to the original tasking line in the ATO, that could allow the deconfliction process to run on much more specific information about altitudes, routes of flight, and so forth. This can only improve the deconfliction matrices.

Communication, Navigation, Surveillance / Air Traffic Management

The CNS/ATM is an Air Force program designed to meet the evolving aviation requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). It utilizes automated satellite-based reporting that will improve air traffic control in areas where positive control is not possible due to lack of radar coverage (transoceanic traffic is one example). At the tactical level, if the CNS/ATM were linked to the TBMCS and JASMAD, it would allow the transition of a tasked (through the ATO) and planned (through the JMPS) mission, which would not originate in the AOC's area, directly into the mission's execution phase. As CNS/ ATM updates are received through the satellite feeds, the deconfliction data, which would be linked to a specific mission within the JASMAD, could be continually updated to run the deconfliction matrices. This offers the opportunity to correlate and deconflict missions transiting multiple AOCs in an unclassified environment. Once the aircraft enters the objective area, however, another method of accomplishing this same type of updating, but to a much higher level of accuracy, must be found. Therefore, since the CNS/ATM will not refresh the aircraft's position often enough to be utilized for air-traffic-control purposes, Link 16 could be the answer to this problem.

Link 16 and Joint Airspace Management and Deconfliction

One of the main input systems for the air-picture portion of the COP is information fed through Link 16, an improved data link used to exchange near-real-time information (communication, navigation, and identification) that supports information exchange between tactical C4I systems. One of the functions of Link 16 is to provide positive, friendly identification. Link 16 periodically transmits a crypto-secured and precise participant location and identification (PPLI) report, a considerable improvement that can significantly reduce or prevent fratricide incidents. (9) Part of the PPLI includes geodetic positioning which would be important to JASMAD applications. Link 16 messages implement a three-dimensional geodetic coordinate system using latitude, longitude, and altitude. This enables positions to be reported anywhere in the world and is subject only to display and database limitations. The geodetic grid (GEOGRID) is always available to participants. (10) Herein lies the potential application for the JASMAD: this is very similar to the Mode 4 identification, friend or foe (IFF) function used for primary aircraft separation in a radar environment.

How does one maintain positive control of airborne objects once they pass the FEBA and enter the objective area? Positive control in noncombatant areas is maintained by air-traffic-control agencies using radar identification

and/or Mode 4 IFF reporting. When one operates in a wartime environment, radar control is rarely available, and aircraft normally turn their Mode 4 equipment off for operational security. This is part of the reason why ACMs are developed and the daily ACO is produced. Aerial vehicles flying on the ATO maintain separation by the procedural methods established in the ACO (differing routes, altitudes, and times). In air-traffic-control jargon, this is referred to as "procedural separation."

Procedural separation is not as effective for utilizing the available airspace as positive control. Larger blocks of airspace must be reserved for operations when flying objects cannot be separated by positive control. If a methodology for providing positive control in a secure operating environment were developed, air operations could be planned with greater accuracy, fratricide incidents could be less frequent, and more aircraft could .y in the battlespace with greater safety. The combination of the COP, JASMAD, JMPS, and Link 16 offers the potential to provide this capability and much more.

A weakness of the Link 16 concept to help provide positive control in the battlespace is that not all aircraft and aerial vehicles flying in the ATO have or will have Link 16 capabilities or a similar interface system. For example, AMC currently operates some aircraft that employ aircraft communications and reporting systems, and eventually all strategic mobility aircraft will meet ICAO aviation requirements through the CNS/ATM program. Neither of these systems is interoperable with Link 16, and neither is secure. Thus, many AMC aircraft are not and will not be equipped to respond to positive air traffic control in the battlespace. AMC is currently staffing initiatives to remedy the situation. Additionally, the number of unmanned aerial systems operating below the coordination altitude is growing at an astonishing rate. Currently none have any system similar to Link 16, and although this is being considered for a few, most will never have Link 16 or any similar reporting capability. Another problem with this concept is that Link 16 operates on line of sight and requires a persistent airborne platform to provide the link. Given all of these drawbacks, a solution may become available in the form of near-space platforms, which offer the potential to solve both the line-of-sight and persistence problems.

Near Space and Joint Airspace Management and Deconfliction

The Air Force Space Battlelab is planning to conduct a variety of experiments in the area of near space over the next several years. The goal is to determine if near-space systems flying at an altitude of about 30 kilometers above Earth's surface could perform a variety of tactical missions, including battlefield- intelligence gathering and communications at a lower cost than satellites. Near-space systems also have the potential to hover over areas of interest for hours at a time (with solar power, maybe for days at a time) whereas satellites are available briefly during their orbital passes. Hopefully these systems will offer the same quick-deployment capability as unmanned aerial vehicles. Their operating altitude would keep them relatively safe from enemy fire, and their construction would make them difficult to pick up with radar and infrared sensors. Furthermore, their ruggedness would allow them to absorb heavy damage before they will be brought down.

The AFRL conducted a successful demonstration called Combat SkySat and tested potential applications during JFEX '06. Lt Gen Michael Peterson, the Air Force's chief information officer, said that the balloon system received rave reviews during the event. "As soon as he heard about this: Go. Buy. Now," Peterson said of one general's reaction. (11)

Combat SkySat features a payload that extends the range of Army tactical radios from about 10 kilometers to about 480 kilometers. Additionally, the AFRL expects to deploy a test platform to OIF in the August or September 2006 time frame for operational testing. (12) The impact would be to demonstrate the ability of near-space systems to solve the line-of- sight and persistence issues associated with ensuring Link 16 connectivity throughout the battlespace.

Publication of Airspace Control Orders and Airspace Control Measures

One innovation resulting from OIF involved providing aircrews with a visual depiction of the ACOs and ACMs, which could subsequently be used for mission planning. The ACO ends up being a stack of pages containing longitudes and latitudes in text format. Most people can relate to graphical presentations much better than to paper printouts. During OIF, the CAOC staff started pulling the ACM graphics from Falcon View, part of the Air Force Mission Planning Support System that provides user-friendly ability to plan missions with a visual presentation overlaying map databases. Through their innovation, the staff members started cutting and pasting the images to e-mails, Secure Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNET) Web pages, and whatever other methodologies they could employ to get better information to the aircrews. (13) This service was very difficult to provide to AMC crews due to the nature of their mission, the fact that the crews often departed before the current ATO was published, and the fact that they often originated from locations with difficult or unavailable access to the SIPRNET. To help alleviate these concerns, the JASMAD will offer the capability to automate the process of developing the mission graphics, and the JMPS will offer the capability to deliver that data.

Identification, Friend or Foe

JASMAD interoperability and functionality must extend to ground and surface forces and their receptors as well. For example, extending JASMAD connectivity and functionality out to the control and reporting centers (CRC) of the theater air-ground system could aid in both airspace management and control and help reduce fratricide. Once an object has been positively identified by either radar identification or through the Link 16 network, that object could conceivably be tracked by the CRCs, emissions free, all the way out to the last point of positive radar control by continuously updating and comparing the actual flight profile against the planned profile as generated by the JMPS. The tracking information then would be passed back to the TBONE and ultimately updated into the JASMAD. Using predictive analysis and comparing the predicted radar coverage reentry point and time against the actual point and time could aid in the reidentification of friendly aircraft. Tactics, techniques, and procedures should be developed to enable positive identification of aircraft reentering positive radar or digital control without requiring emissions. Another example of how this functionality can aid in preventing fratricide would be if the proper connectivity were also established with Patriot Missile Defense Systems, thereby providing just one more means of IFF.

Joint Airspace Management and Deconfliction in a Perfect World

The JASMAD represents the future of airspace management in the battlespace, but it also represents a test of the Joint Vision 2020 NCW concept. There are many seemingly independent programs emerging concurrently with the development of the JASMAD. A few of these have been mentioned in this article: the COP, the CNS/ATM, the JMPS, the Link 16, near space, the SIAP, and the TBONE. The test of NCW will be whether or not these independent programs can interface adequately with each other to produce the most network-centric AOC weapons system possible.

The JASMAD offers the core capability to deconflict airborne vehicles using every known and quantifiable data point, updated with the most current and available sources while emphasizing airspace management. It should be properly integrated with the Global Information Grid as a major portion of the Airborne Network, giving the commander the best possible SIAP. Every vehicle flying the ATO should be required to have the ability to automatically update the tasked profile to the planned profile with the JMPS, which will give the JASMAD much higher deconfliction capabilities.

Another requirement is that every vehicle flying in the ATO should also automatically and continuously update the planned profile into an execution profile with a Link 16 (or similar) compatible capability, transforming the SIAP into a virtual digital radar screen, displaying all elements required for air traffic control for every friendly aircraft flying in the battlespace. AWACS aircraft will continue to have the responsibility for identifying and directing the elimination of foe aircraft. A grid of near-space assets would provide the line-of-sight reception and relay capability needed to provide complete Link 16 (or similar) coverage of the entire battlespace while fulfilling their primary intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance roles.

The CNS/ATM combined with the JMPS offers the potential link to solve the problem of aircraft that transit multiple COCOM AOCs. Global-mobility and global-strike aircraft are already programmed to have this capability, but it will not provide updates frequently enough to meet air-traffic-control requirements. For this reason, the joint community should pick a system that is capable of aircraft reporting in a tactical environment to a degree of accuracy that will allow use of SIAP for control purposes; furthermore, it should require every vehicle flying the ATO to be equipped with that system. While Link 16 serves the Air Force, other formats should also be investigated, including the Army's digital-message protocol, the joint variable-message format, and the enhanced position-location reporting system. There should also be close coordination with Air Force Space Command and its work on near-space platforms to solve the problem of line-of-sight limitations.

A Chance to Trade in a Stovepipe for Network-Centric Warfare

The bottom line is that at some point the joint community should determine and demand a minimum level of digital connectivity that seamlessly interfaces with each and every AOC throughout the world. To quote a high-level engineer working on the JASMAD: "As an engineer, the solution is the easy part. As a subject matter expert, getting the services (and all the different air forces) to agree on a common solution is the hard part." (14) The pursuit of the JASMAD offers a perfect opportunity to break down these stovepipe-mentality barriers. All concerned would agree that deconfliction in the modern battlespace is an issue worthy of the utmost cooperation. Virtually all the services and their aviation components have a vested interest in establishing a required level of digital connectivity between the JASMAD and TBONE and at least two additional arenas: mission planning and mission execution. The JMPS can be the template for mission planning, and Link 16 a template for digital connectivity of airborne assets. When this level of digital connectivity is established, the JASMAD could provide the mechanism for air commanders to deconflict during the mission-planning and tasking phases across multiple AOCs and ensure the highest possible level of deconfliction during the execution phase as the fog of war requires adjustment to those plans and taskings.

Notes

(1.) Walter Judd, contractor, Advancing National Strategies and Enabling Results (ANSER), Air Force Command and Control and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Center (AFC2ISRC/DOR), to the author, e-mail, 15 December 2004. For the purposes of this paper, the acronym COCOM will refer to "combatant command" and "combatant command authority" interchangeably.

(2.) Air Force Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (AFTTP) (I) 3-2.17, TAGS: Multiservice Procedures for the Theater Air-Ground System, 1998.

(3.) A1C Ross Tweten, Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment JEFX '06 Public Affairs, "JEFX Focuses on Battle Operations, Communications," 25 April 2006, http:// www.af.mil/news/story.asp?storyID=123019484, (accessed 15 May 2006).

(4.) United States Central Command Air Forces (CENTAF), Assessments and Analysis Division, "Operation Iraqi Freedom--by the Numbers," 2003, www.global security.org/military/library/report/2003/uscentaf_oif _report_30apr2003.pdf (accessed 6 July 2006).

(5.) Briefing, David A. Griffith, senior member, Technical Staff, C2 Engineering Branch, Air Force Research Laboratory, Information Directorate, Command and Control Engineering (AFRL/IFSA), subject: Joint Airspace Management and Deconfliction (JASMAD), 2004.

(6.) Dr. Dennis K. Leedom, Next Generation Common Operating Picture (Vienna, VA: Evidence Based Research, Inc., 2004), http://www.dodccrp.org/events/2003/8th _ICCRTS/Pres/track_4/3_1330leedom.pdf (accessed 20 November 2004).

(7.) Jim Bradshaw, contractor, TBMCS C4I Field Support, 609th Combat Plans Squadron (609 CPS/DOX), interview by the author, 16 July 2004.

(8.) Field Manual (FM) 6-24.8, Marine Corps Warfighting Publication (MCWP) 3-25C, Naval Warfare Publication (NWP) 6-02.5, AFTTP (I) 3-2.27, Introduction to Tactical Digital Information Link J and Quick Reference Guide, 2000, I-1. While this article focuses on the tactical digital information link as the potential cure-all for digital connectivity between aerial vehicles operating in the battlespace and the COCOM AOC, the author recognizes that other applications may serve the purpose as well, such as the joint variable-message format or the Enhanced Position Location and Reporting System. The point is that digital connectivity to the AOC must be stated as a requirement--regardless of the platform to achieve it.

(9.) Ibid., I-8.

(10.) Ibid., I-10.

(11.) Rebecca Christie, "DOD Experiments with Balloon- Borne Communication Tech," Market Watch from Dow Jones, 4 May 2006, http://www.marketwatch.com/News/Story/ Story.aspx?dist=news.nder&siteid=google&guid=%7BA0F EB28F-8153-4583-9346-DA23555D9BF9%7D&keyword=.

(12.) Maj David Donahue, Air Force Space Battlelab, interview by the author, 17 April 2006.

(13.) Maj Burl Kenner, tanker planner, Operations Allied Force, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom, 609 CPS/DOX, interview by the author, 15 July 2004.

(14.) Kenneth B. Hawks, defensive operations engineer, C3I Associates, AFRL/IFSA, to the author, e-mail, 11 January 2005.

LT COL ALEX WATHEN, USAF, RETIRED, Lieutenant Colonel Wathen is a military defense analyst with the Airpower Research Institute, Maxwell AFB, Alabama.
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Author:Wathen, Alex
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