Command and Control (C2) systems in future force generations


The third draft of the South African Defence Review (2013) notes that “the world in which we find ourselves in is becoming increasingly more complex and unstable, with increased risks to both international and domestic security. Nation states successfully mitigate these risks through the application of a suite of ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ power interventions, including inter alia political interventions, diplomatic initiatives, economic measures and military interventions.”

The ongoing changes in the composition and structure of the SA Army, as well as the experience in local wars and armed conflicts of the past two decades, highlight the need for improving troops’ command and control (C2 systems) – which basically refers to the appropriate utilisation of resources, whether personnel, equipment, communications, facilities and procedures. It aims to arm troops with knowledge so they can better respond in anticipated – and unanticipated – situations.

According to the Defence Review, future conflict will be increasingly characterised by uncertainty – making the use of effective C2 systems an important consideration.

Without stable, uninterrupted, efficient, and covert command and control both in wartime and in peacetime, it is impossible to maintain the high combat and mobilisation readiness of troops or to prepare them for performance of missions assigned to them. It is only through effective command and control that opposing forces deployment can be pre-empted and aggression successfully repelled.

This thinking is directly in line with the Defence Review Committee’s focus on ‘future force generations’, observes Willie Bothma, Executive Manager of C2 products & services at Saab Grintek Defence (SGD) South Africa.

The Defence Review 2013 mentions, for example, that the ‘future force generation’ must extend to “enhanced early-warning intelligence and domain awareness”.

“The problem with ‘traditional’ command and control systems is that it is based on a bottom-to-top co-ordination and reporting process – where the person ‘in charge’ communicates response tactics,” says Bothma, “but there is a pressing need to redefine the chain of command and control processes. SGD’s products aim to expand this process both vertically and horizontally to establish fast-flowing reporting processes to enable those on the ground to respond quickly.

“In this way Saab Grintek Defence plays towards another aim stipulated in the Defence Review – and that is the rejuvenation of its Defence Force in the way of establishing a sustainable Peace-Time Force.”

According to the Defence Review, this sustainable Peace-Time Force will lend support to the Defence Force’s Constitutional requirements and standing defence commitments.

According to the review document: “Increased instability in the strategic environment would require South Africa to increase the capabilities of its Peace-Time Force. This would inter alia entail: the re-rolling of forces committed to standing defence obligations; building appropriate deterrence capabilities; and placing an increased focus on special operating forces, including necessary command and control and the capability to project and sustain such forces.”

Comments Bothma: “In South Africa, we have the intellectual property (IP) and equipment to support this mandate – SGD’s flagship landward command and control enabler, Chaka, is a case in point.”

‘Chaka’ was developed from the Constructive Simulation environment through continuous use of Battle Tek Constructive Simulation Software, also a product of SAAB Systems Grintek, on different command levels during formal training and mission rehearsals with the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

“At this training rehearsal, senior officers remarked that having a situational awareness picture and communication ability would surely benefit commanders at all levels,” says Bothma.

Since this training, Chaka has been developed into a fully operational Command and Control solution for the SANDF.

According to Bothma, the true success of Chaka is that the software was never developed to replace any steps in the command appreciation cycle or to formulate decisions – which could take away the commander’s requirement to apply his experience and knowledge – but rather to complement existing Command and Control functions.

The measurement comes down to time, says Bothma: “The success of using software-based Command and Control solutions can be measured by the time it takes the commander to observe, orientate, decide and take action on an event.”

SAAB Systems Grintek has also been the leading role player in Command and Control in the air environment, having close to 30 years of successful performance with products such as the Air Picture Display System, Current Intelligence System, Ground Command and Control System and Recording and Playback System.

“Having such vast experience in the technology side of Command and Control environment is a true advantage when looking at the requirements for solutions in the joint support environment,” concludes Bothma, adding: “We look forward to see where SGD can add further support to the policies outlined by the Defence Review Committee.”