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The chemical officer in the digitized artillery battalion. (From the Field).

Digitization did not change the role of the chemical officer (ChemO) in the digitized artillery battalion. It enhanced the ability of the ChemO to plan and conduct nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) operations. Although many pieces of equipment were not designed with the ChemO in mind, most of the Army Battle Command System (ABCS), the Army Tactical Command and Control System (ATCCS), and the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) can be used to plan and process NBC information.

This article covers the--

* Concept of ABCS.

* Structure of digitized artillery units.

* Changes in the tactical operation center (TOC).

* Distribution of ABCS equipment and capabilities.

* Joint Warning and Reporting Network (JWARN).

* Application of equipment by the ChemO.

* Required personal development and unit training.

* Scenarios illustrating the concept of ABCS.

The ABCS Concept

ABCS integrates the command and control systems found at each echelon from ground force commanders at the theater or joint task force level to the individual soldier or weapons platform. The ABCS and software use broadcast battlefield information, as well as information from other sources, and integrates that information (including real-time friendly and enemy situations) into a digitized image. This image can be displayed graphically in increasingly mobile and heads-up display. With this concept, the Army decreased manpower and weapon systems in the artillery battalion and increased the combat capabilities of the systems through quick information relay with minimal operator interaction. What do the [new] digitized artillery units look like?

The Digitized Artillery Units

The digitized division artillery (DIVARTY) consists of a multiple-launch rocket system (MLRS) battalion comprised of three batteries of six launchers each and a target acquisition battery and three Paladin battalions with three batteries of 18 Paladins each. Each Paladin battalion, although falling under the DIVARTY, supports a maneuver task force. The MLRS battalion mission consists of general support to the division and direct support to an aviation brigade.

Changes in the TOC

The MLRS and Paladin battalions have different missions and weapons systems; although not interchangeable, their TOCs configuration and equipment are very similar. They both have an operations section, an intelligence section, a fire-direction-control section, and an automations section.

The automation section, which falls under the S6, is a key addition to the artillery battalion. It is responsible for digital connectivity of the TOC. It ensures that all the ABCS and other supporting equipment can communicate to both subordinate and higher commands. The digitized artillery battalion cannot accomplish its intended missions or use its digitized advantages without communication; therefore, the automation section is a vital addition to the TOC.

The automation section, along with all other sections in the TOC, is responsible for managing the Tactical Internet that links all the systems in the TOC to subordinate units and higher command. The Tactical Internet is designed to provide real-time, shared situational awareness. It consists of tactical radios linked with routers that allow digital systems to interoperate in a dynamic battlefield environment. Each section has primary means of communication to this Internet.

Distribution and Capabilities of Equipment

Each section in the TOC, except the automation section, has an Advance Field-Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS). Its main purpose is to process fire mission and other related information that coordinates and optimizes the use of all fire-support assets. AFATDS is the heart of the artillery; therefore, it is distributed down to platoon level in the artillery battalion. It is used for different functions by the other sections in the TOC.

The intelligence section mainly uses its AFATDS to process counterfire missions. Its primary intelligence processing system is the All-Source Analysis System (ASAS). This system was designed to pass intelligence information from higher echelon down to the battalion-level intelligence section. It has a tremendous library of information on threat equipment and provides information on the employment of these assets. Although the ASAS and AFATDS can quickly pass information from system to system, they are not distributed at the soldiers' level. The FBCB2 connects the individual soldier to the TOG because it is included in the crew vehicles.

The FBCB2 is not just a glorified "plugger." It allows the soldier to automatically send and receive position-location reports and command-and-control message traffic, to include graphical overlays. The Tactical Internet [network] provides the linkages to connect the myriad FBCB2 platforms across the unit. None of the systems described so far were designed solely to process NBC information. JWARN is one of the few systems introduced for this purpose.


JWARN consists of software and hardware components that link NBC detectors to tactical communications for NBC warning, reporting, and battlefield management. JWARN [hardware] is not available at the battalion level; however, ChemOs can obtain the software for use in the TOC. The software is available in the Maneuver Control System (MCS) but not in the AFATDS; therefore, the ChemO has to install the software on a laptop. On the laptop, the JWARN software is simply a planning tool. The ChemO can use its predicting ability to show a visual representation of NBC effect on the battlefield during the military decision-making process. ASAS is the best way to receive JWARN messages from higher headquarters. The brigade has to send the information received from their MCS to the ASAS. There are many other tools in the fully digitized artillery units, but the ones previously mentioned are the primary ones that the battalion ChemO will encounter.

ChemO's Application of Equipment

AFATDS is one of the most important tools for the ChemO in the TOG. The ChemO can use AFATDS to pass NBC information up to higher command and down to the platoon level. AFATDS contains preformatted NBC reports to facilitate disseminating NBC information on the battlefield. Although AFATDS can communicate some information with the MCS, it cannot process the NBC data from the MCS.

ASAS's ability to communicate with the MCS makes it important to the ChemO. This system is not available in the artillery battalion TOG, but it is the heart and soul of the maneuver units TOC. Maneuver units pass most of their NBC information through the MCS. ASAS is the artillery battalion's primary link to NBC information from maneuver units; therefore, a good relationship with the intelligence section is necessary to obtain critical NBC information in a timely manner.

The ChemO can always rely on the intelligence section to obtain chemical downwind messages if he is not receiving them from the brigade combat team or the DIVARTY ASAS also provides the ChemO with the enemy situation, which enhances his situational awareness of the battlefield. With the information, the ChemO is able to disseminate important NBC information to subordinate units and analyze the enemy's course of action to prevent NBC contamination of the battalion. The information passed by the ASAS and AFATDS is transparent to most soldiers in the unit; the FBCB2 is the ChemO's direct link to the soldier.

The FBCB2 possesses all of the NBC reports. It allows the ChemO to view the battlefield at the soldier's level and, therefore, increases the accuracy of the NBC reports. He can look at an FBCB2 screen and eliminate duplicate NBC reports. Everyone within the network is able to see and respond to information passing via the FBCB2.

Personal Development and Unit Training

"Personal development and unit training are two tools the ChemO needs in the digitized artillery battalion. His job is to advise the unit on smoke and NBC defense operations on the battlefield and to properly use these added assets to enhance NBC defense operations in the TOC. Personal development is training one's self to understand the capabilities and applications of the different types of equipment. There will not be enough time to attend most of the training scheduled for the equipment operators; however, participation in unit-level training events is highly recommended to become familiar with the equipment. Another way to train on the equipment is to practice preparing, sending, and receiving NBC information during field-training exercise. The ChemO, with the help of operators, can prepare NBC situations involving preparing, sending, and receiving NBC information to subordinate batteries."

Unit training includes training the equipment operators to send and retrieve NBC information on their systems. Training these operators starts at garrison and continues through field-training exercises. Train operators to identify NBC information on the systems, and show them what an NBC 1 report is. They need to know what it is to quickly identify and pass the information to the ChemO upon receiving a report on their system. Show them how to send NBC reports on these systems. The reports are there. They just have to input the information and send it wherever it is required.

Using the ABCS (Scenarios)

First situation: Upon contact or observation of an NBC attack, the operator sends an initial NBC report to the unit using his FBCB2. The platoon operation center sends the information through its AFATDS to the battery operation center, which then sends the information to the TOC. The ChemO knows the location of the attack from the observer's information gathered on the FBCB2. He sends an initial report to all subordinate units and higher headquarters. On receiving the NBC 1 report, he needs to verify the information and forward it to higher headquarters and subordinate units.

Second situation: Q37 radar observes a large volume of rocket fire; the Q37 sends the targets to the S2. The S2 informs the ChemO on the Q37 radar's observation. He instructs the S2 analyst to send an initial report of possible contamination and location from his AFATDS, or sends one himself using the AFATDS in the operations cell, to all subordinate units and higher and awaits the observer's reports. On confirmation of a chemical attack, the ChemO sends out the NBC report.

The information gathering for both of these scenarios can occur in a timely manner without interrupting fire-support operations.


NBC contamination analysis is easier because everyone on the battlefield can see the contaminated areas and is able to bypass them, when necessary, without overestimating manual NBC reports. The FBCB2 shows the contaminated area after the operator inputs the location in the systems. The AFAIDS operator can visually see the contaminated areas on his AFATDS and prevent his units from moving into a contaminated area. The ChemO must understand the capabilities of the ABCS and apply these capabilities to his advantage.


Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (draft), U.S. Field Artillery School, and Fort Sill, Oklahoma, 1996.

Cantave, Obert, personal experience, 4ID DIVARTY, Fort Hood, Texas, April 1999 to October 2001.

Digital Operator's Guide (DOG) Company and Platoon Level for FBCB2 version 3.1. Fort Hood, Texas, 1999.

Fires, for the Digitized Brigade (draft), U.S. Field Artillery School, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, 1996.

At the time this article was written. Captain Cantave was a student in the Chemical Captain's Career Course (Class 1-02) at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. His previous assignments include platoon leader 62d Chemical Company (heavy decon), Republic of Korea; battalion chemical officer, 2-20 Field Artillery Regiment (FAR) (MLRS); HHB 2-20 FAR executive officer; and DIVARTY chemical officer, 4ID DIVARTY.
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Article Details
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Author:Cantave, Obert
Publication:CML Army Chemical Review
Date:Jul 1, 2002
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