Contact Us   |    Join   |    Donate
THIS WEBSITE IS SPONSORED BY PROGENY, A CORPORATE MEMBER OF THE NSL

C3 AND THE SUBMARINE AS A SYSTEM OF FORCE

Today’s command and control process extends beyond human sight and hearing; its reach is global and into space. Present command and control functions enable American and Soviet Union political leaders and military commanders to deal on a near-real-time basis with critical activities worldwide. The Soviet OKEAN military ocean exercises support this view.

Electronic technologies continue to enhance weapon performance by furnishing improved guidance and terminal homing systems. Use of electronic countermeasures in missiles is becoming standard.

Because weapons are more lethal and application of various degrees of force is now a matter of political responsibility, command and control systems are adapted to augment the ability of political leadership participation in military operations. As part of this mechanism of political control, command and control systems for “crisis management” are in place or will be soon. The Soviet-American HOTLINE System is an example.

Command and control systems depend more and more on satellites. But soon, military operations in space will expand beyond space shuttles, satellites and anti-satellite weapons. Military space operations will involve space-embedded manopjrated command and control and communic~tions (C ) and weapons systems. Thus , space C will add a new feature to existing war scenarios. How outer space and the inner space of submarines will be linked needs great thought and balanced discussion..

The most significant breakthrough in command and control is that electronic computer technologies have advanced sufficiently in the past few years to permit replacement of humans, in certain command 3 and control functions, with machines in the C loop. Kenneth McVicar, of the MITRE Corporation, notes in this regard that: “The future promises automated stand-alone expert systems that will generate decisions based on rules of reasoning that combine information from many sources. They will make unmanned decisionmaking feasible more often, first within narrow limits, and later, perhaps, more widely.”

The C3I Process

A better understanding of “what is command and control?3 may ge found by expanding the descriptor C to C I, wher3 the added I is “intelligence.” Then, the C I process is best understood by viewing the echelons of command which deal with an environment into which a weapon is to be placed. An example is a submarine missile attack on a surface warship. (The concept for this is initiated in this issue’s DISCUSSIONS.)

In a single echelon (a submarine commander using organic targetting information) the concept involves two major functions: Command Support Function and Command Function. In the former are included sensing the environment (enemy and physical conditions), processing, classifying and evaluating.

Overlapping of the two major functions occurs during the evaluating stepping subfunction after which “command” passes through doctrine, decision, acting, monitoring and feedback.

One can relate most of the process to machine and human subfunctions; i.e. long range passive acoustic detection and tracking, processing, classifying and evaluating and “command” (commanding officer, fire control team, firing team, etc.). Monitoring and feedback follow with weapon launch.

This simplistic concept becomes increasingly complicated and uncertain the further the firing range, and the greater the need for identifying and localizing the target with external sensors.

But, the command and control process is usually not a single echelon operation. Military systems for the most part depend upon an hierarchical command structure to project force. It does not matter whether the force is a MK 48 torpedo or a cruise missile. Fortunately, the command structure for controlling submarine operations, which are for the most part independent, is a relatively simple one. In the American submarine Navy, the line between the senior operational submarine commander is directly to his tactical or strategic submarines. The senior submarine operating command may have interposed between himself and his tactical submarine another shore-based commander, as in Japan. Yet, it is questionable whether this intermediary would do very much once conflict began.

Regardless of the hierarchical structure, what normally takes place once crisis or conflict sets in is that senior commanders and political leaders quickly skip over echelons. This is because hierarchical commands tend to slow decisions in the fast-paced world 3 in which we live. With modern weaponry and C capabilities, political leaders and military commanders in capitols eschew delays in handling military problems. Any nice schematic of command and control relationaships then becomes a confusing milieu — one difficult to understand in actual action.

Presently, C3I is not adequate in most military activities because the communications, the intelligence, the computer, and the weapon communities view each other with suspicion and sometimes distrust. Part of the problem is money and part of the problem is lack of understanding.

Systems of Force

The purpose of the command and control process is to direct the application of force against an enemy to destroy it or to make its potential in application so certain and effective (deterrence) that the enemy will not take aggressive actions.

If one integrates weapo~s, the men who use them, their platforms, and C processes that make the application of force credible, then the most efficient form of combat or deterrence is achieved. This necessary integration might be termed a “system of force.”

A system of force, moreover, may be conventional or unconventional. Within such broad categories it should be further subdivided into tactical or strategic, the latter meaning “strategic nuclear weapons.”

Today and Tomorrow

If one looks at today’s systems of force, it becomes evident that no weapon can 3 be successfully employed without an effective C I system. As weaponry advances technologically, new concepts for their deployment tend to overlook the parallel efforts required in supporting C3I.

Strategic weapon systems have not really advanced in this country beyond technology known in the late 19601s. While the Trident missile’s range, for example, is an improvement over that of Poseidon by 60~, and though it is an e~cellent new nuclear weapon, unfortunately, the C I system to support Trident uses techniques which were established in the early 1970’s.

On the other hand, tactical weaponry has had some very remarkable advances ¬†— the most remarkable is possibly the return to improved cruise missiles.

The impetus for new tactical weapons -Vietnam, Middle East conflicts, and other episodes in Africa and LJtin America — has forced simultaneously new C I requirements.

The recent Israeli operations against Syrians in the Bekaa Valley represent outstanding example of a highly proficient system. The Israeli ability to deploy efficient command and control systems, countermeasures and weapons against the Syrians (for the most part Soviet supported) destroyed large numbers or the Syrian’s weapons systems with little loss of Israeli strike forces.

The sinking of the Argentine cruiser Belgrano by the British submarine, Conqueror, during the Falklands battle was largely the result of coupling nuclear propulsion and the use or overhead sensors, excellent communications and excellent intelligence, plus sound evaluation and decision-making. The sinking of the British destroyer HMS Sheffield, on the other hand, by the Argentine air launched Exocet missile, probably could have been avoided if the British forces in t~e Falklands had been provided modern, balanced C3I and adequate electronic countermeasures systems.

The American tactical submarine bas shown some successful innovation i~ its weapons (Subroc, MK 48 torpedo) and its C I systems (Transit, Navstar, Fleet SatCom, VLF, ECH). There is some concern, however, that recent Soviet submari~e developments in platforms, weapons and C I (ELF,ECM, satellites, etc.) along with their cross-service operations might possibly be somewhat better.

Near Term Challenges

As pointed out earlier, new tactical weapons systems are capable of operating at great ranges. Some long-range missiles are now dependent upon over-the-horizon (OTH) radars, overhead tracking systems and highly integrated intelligence systems. Soon, 1,000-mile 3 cruise missiles will stress even today’s limited C3 capabilities.

The command and control capabilities to meet the essential data needs of such future cruise weapons are on the margin of technological doubt at this time. While it is true that missile guidance techniques permit the launching of OTH weapons, these weapons simply are not smart enough to go it alone. Moreover, the demands of IFF and political interve~tion for dealing with OJH targets create C I uncertainties. The C I concepts to deal with such factors are not yet fully comprehended.

Over the past eight years, considerable stu~y and effort has been involved with the C I necessary to deal with Cruise Missiles. One of the difficulties in structuring C I systems is in ascertaining the various concepts to be employed. For instance, is the weapon to be used as a precise attriting force, a massive retaliatory force, a supplementing force, a political bargaining chip or all or part of these forces?

To meet such challenges in the en~ironment of Soviet countermeasures against U.S. C I systems, in the next decade, will require major technological developments and a highly sophisticated concept of operations backed with nadequate c3I capabilities. Significant opportunities in digital 3 computer technology exist to help overcome C I limitations. Yet, requirements and solutions appear to need further thought.

At the same time, a parallel requirement exists to press forward aggressively with simulation, modeling, and gaming techniques to resolve 3 doctrinal and procedural issues related to tpese C I systems use. In this way, the resources of the human mind and experience can best be utilized to solve the very complex problems brought on by advanced weaponry and their supporting systems.

Systems of Force in the Year 2010

By the year 2010, our military  world will be essentially an electronic driven one.The Soviet Union believes this and is preparing for such an eventuality in 21st century warfare.

Soon-to-be-available technology might well provide new communications and computers that will combine to pass massive amounts of refined information rapidly around the world to military and political decision-makers.

Also, knowledge-based systems will assist staff and decision-makers in choosing the right options. Video displays and video conferencing will connect theater commanders to each other and to national capitols while permitting highly flexible and diverse networking between political leaders, commanders and individual combat units. This political-military relationship must be accepted as a fact of the 21st century.

Weapons delivery should become surgical under c3I control. Platforms will be electronically directed with human over-ride. Battles will be delayed until the last moment as sensors and countermeasures duel as a prologue.

Lasers, fibre optical acoustics surveillance, artificial intelligence and physics not y~t technologically developed will form our C I lexicon or tomorrow.

The question to be asked is : “Are the submarine sysytems of forced tuned to the times ahead?”

Jon Boyes

Naval Submarine League

© 2022 Naval Submarine League