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BCST: the Army's premiere battle command systems collective task trainer.

Day three of the MRX in the 1st BCT TOC: The Battle Captain remains focused on the CPOF in front of him as battalion events continue to populate his "BCT Events" effort from simulated, subordinate battalions. The Fire Support Cell shouts out, "Acquisition! AO Mustangs!" based on the AFATDS display, which immediately causes the brigade staff to execute its Indirect Fire Battle Drill. In the White Cell room, a "puckster" continues to provide event injects (events and reports) from his BCST computer into the brigade ABCS network ...

Introduction

The introduction of various complex digital Army Battle Command Systems (ABCS) across the Army over the past several years has been accompanied by the creation of complicated, and often costly, simulations programs and specialized applications to stimulate the ABCS boxes. Units required a training capability to exercise and sustain ABCS skills to ensure user proficiency and employment of the entire ABCS network. Current simulation programs, such as the Corps Battle Simulation (CBS) and the Joint Combat and Tactical Simulation (JCATS) serve very useful purposes for major training exercises, but require high overhead for small unit training purposes. Some of this overhead includes external support and extensive lead time for coordination.

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History

As a result of unit requests for ABCS stimulation assistance, the National Simulation Center (NSC) initially developed a low-overhead software application, which we know today as the Battle Command Staff Trainer (BCST). Since its creation, the NSC worked with numerous agencies and program managers to transition BCST and ensure mutual capability refinement. The Product Director, Common Services, under direction of Program Manager Battle Command, now has responsibility to continue development of the BCST. The U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Capability Manager-Battle Command (TCM-BC) is responsible for requirements generation and oversight.

Uses

BCST enables units to conduct battle staff training on ABCS command and control systems via internal resources with minimal setup time and effort and facilitates collective and individual staff training (sustainment and refresher) for specific sections or entire staffs, from battalion through U.S. Army Service Component Command levels. Significant training opportunities afforded by BCST include: maintain and improve highly perishable ABCS skills, train new battle staff personnel, apply staff coordination drills, battle rhythm development and train-up for exercises/events. This software also provides an ability to stimulate the battle staff reactions to friendly and enemy events, as well as planned Master Scenario Events List (MSEL) injects to initiate staff reactions. BCST should only be used on training networks, never on real-world operational network. The risk of mixed BCST simulated and real-world operational events is too great!

What BCST is and is Not

BCST is a training program that operates on standard personal computer systems with Microsoft Windows XP and is applicable to both Active and Reserve Component (AC/RC) units, as well as Battle Command Training Centers (BCTCs). However, this software application is not: hardware or computer, a substitute for ABCS, or a replacement for CBS, JCATS, or other constructive training simulations. These systems, like BCST, were born of necessity and serve a very useful purpose for larger-scale training exercises.

How Units Receive BCST

Currently, BCST is provided to Army units through unit set fielding (USF) beginning in December 2008 or via the BCST AKO download site. Based on the approved USF schedule for AC/RC/National Guard units, the software fielding and new equipment training (NET) dates are synchronized with the unit's input. The computer discs issued during NET include the actual BCST program, as well as a reference disc that includes training support packages (TSPs) with specific scenarios. Units that have recently completed USF and ABCS NET may download the BCST program and TSPs from AKO at https://www.us.army.mil/suite/kc/10244567.*

BCST NET

Prior to BCST NET, units should receive all ABCS equipment and complete NET for those systems. During BCST NET, select personnel from the S/G-3 and S/G-6 will receive instruction on how to connect the BCST into the ABCS network, BCST operator training, and exercise scenario skills. Additionally BCTCs and Centers of Excellence will receive the BCST program and NET based on delivery coordination. A tiered support apparatus will provide support to units for assistance with the BCST program to resolve identified issues.

Summary

BCST has tremendous training potential for any Army battle staff, especially at brigade and battalion levels. BCST provides: a flexible training medium to maintain operators' proficiency on their respective systems; flexible training employment, and great resources for quality collective training at no cost to the unit. Additionally, this capability enhances and complements BCTC supported events and exercises. The application and references provide a low-overhead training capability package that commanders, staff sections, or institutions, can use to train on ABCS system-of-systems with organic resources when they choose.

Questions and comments may be directed to: TCM-BC, ATTN: C2 Branch (BCST), 806 Harrison Drive, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas 66027-2326 or POCs Major Michael Spears at michael.r.spears@us.army.mil, (913)684-4505 or Mr. Gregory Eddy, at gregory.j.eddy@conus.army.mil, (913) 684-4597 of TCM-BC.

Once units have received the software, familiarized their units with it, and used it, send suggested improvements and recommendations for new features to MAJ Spears and/or Mr. Eddy.

Meanwhile, back in the White Cell room, the BCST operator checks his MSEL, and initiates an event that stimulates the DCGS-A box, as the brigade staff continues to execute their staff coordination and battle drills ...

* AKO users will request access to this site from the BCST POCs.

Major Michael Spears
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Title Annotation:UNited States Army's Battle Command Systems
Author:Spears, Michael
Publication:Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2009
Words:923
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