Maneuver Control System: Shattering the Commander's Stovepipe
Gourley, Scott R., Army
"Maneuver control system (MCS) is essentially the commander's integrating function within his command post at battalion-but primarily brigade and above-levels," explains Lt. Col. Dave Moore, Product Manager for Maneuver Control System. "It establishes and maintains his common operating picture. As such, it takes that common operating picture and is able to export it across all the different battlefield functional areas (BFAs) such as the all source analysis system and the advanced field artillery tactical data system. So it provides that common function on top of the Army Battle Command System (ABCS) foundation-a set of software with a common look and feel for the soldier. The commander, through the maneuver control system, has the ability to plan and execute his fight from a common platform and then ask of those other BFAs specific actions that are more in line with their [specific] functional area," he continues.
U.S. Army MCS product management activities are conducted under the umbrella of the office of the Project Manager, Ground Combat Command and Control (formerly Army Tactical Command and Control System). That office procures and provides standard common hardware/ software and shelters to the Army Battle Command System battlefield functional area programs for use in their system development and fielding. In addition, the project management office also manages, develops and acquires the common operating environment software products that will provide the command and control infrastructure of the Army Battle Command System. As part of that infrastructure, MCS operates on the Army's common hardware system (CHS-2) hardware platforms.
Noting that MCS represents more a case of "commander armed" than "soldier armed," the product manager adds, "With MCS, the intent is to arm the commander by fusing those battlefield functional areas and by taking in information that traditionally was stovepiped through a singular system that was not well integrated, so the commander was not able to adequately visualize the battlefield. Therefore, he could not shorten his decision cycle or provide the most timely guidance to defeat the enemy. The intent is to establish that baseline level of capability to arm the commander and enable his force to be more lethal and survivable on the battlefield. And we'll primarily do that by providing the planning and executing functions and the integrating capability that previously was not well integrated in a non-Army Battle Command System battlefield."
As of this writing, the center of gravity for MCS is located at Fort Hood, Texas, where program managers are performing a system stress test on the maneuver control system in that installation's centralized training systems facility. Along with MCS, the scope of the stress testing encompasses all of the battlefield functional areas operating in the Army's ABCS environment. "All of the different systems that would typically be in a tactical environment are here ... in a controlled environment," Moore says. "Our goal is to stress MCS, as well as the representative command post that we have set up here, so that we can continue to work out system and interface shortfalls and track them as we move forward to initial operational test and evaluation."
The initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) is slated to take place from April through June 2003 at Fort Hood. Results from that event will be used to support a Milestone III production decision in the first quarter of fiscal year 2004.
"A successful IOT&E is an Army priority," Moore says. "And we intend to make it happen."
As a system of systems concept, the initial operational test and evaluation will focus on MCS as well as Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2), internal systems control, and the all source analysis system. …