Magazine article National Defense

New Command Center: A War Planner's High-Tech Dream

Magazine article National Defense

New Command Center: A War Planner's High-Tech Dream

Article excerpt

A state-of-the-art command center in Camp Pendleton, Calif., will help the Marine Corps take advantage of the latest information technologies when planning combat operations, officials said. Built for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force under the leadership of the current commandant of the Corps, Gen. Michael W. Hagee, the center is viewed as a steppingstone in a larger plan to improve command-and-control capabilities.

The command center gives war planners access to real-time information on worldwide operations, said officials. It acts as a centralized repository of up-to-date information about ongoing deployments and contingencies.

"We are not going to have maps," Hagee said. "Information is going to be fused electronically, so that the planners do not have to worry about fusing it themselves. They can worry more about the actual planning."

Inaugurated in July 2002, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (1-MEF) Command Center in Camp Pendleton is a $13 million, 23,000 square-foot facility designed for MEF leaders to command and control up to 45,000 Marines in an air-ground task force. The center also provides a "hub for extended, reach-back connectivity with engaged units," said a Marine Corps spokesman. The idea is to decentralize the decision-making process at the command level, so field commander can make decision faster and more competently.

"Nothing helps an enemy more than a chaotic, disconnected battle-space," said the spokesman.

The existing technology for command and control is not adequate to achieve an integrated picture of the battlefield, he explained, because current systems typically don't talk to each other, Further, much of the hardware is heavy and impractical for fast-faced field operations.

The Marines hired a California firm, Panoram Technologies, to supply visualization displays, develop and maintain the command-center software, under a four-year contract. …

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