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The U.S Marines are connecting more easily to one another in the field thanks to a recent upgrade to the Combat Operations Center (COC) software suite. The upgrade also includes mechanisms to enhance communications capabilities even in the absence of satellite links. Deployment began in February, and its impact is now being felt in 208 systems from expeditionary forces down all the way to the battalion level.
“If there is a vehicle out there, you can stay in communication with them as long as you have power. You can maintain voice communication” even without a satellite connection, said Maj. Jon Mohler, COC team lead.
According to c4isrnet.com, the new capability derives from the implementation of the Wide Area Voice Environment (WAVE). The WAVE software collaborates with the COC Tactical Radio over Internet Protocol Inter-Communications System (TRICS), to enable COC users to access tactical radio networks directly from their client laptops. The TRICS radio gateway and WAVE software together enable the integration and dissemination of tactical radio traffic on IP networks. This replaces analog legacy systems, forging a new digital communications capability. “It allows you to converge those IP networks. Things can then be shared more easily, once they have been converted into IP traffic,” Mohler said.
More than just a radio, the COC is an expeditionary tent facility that acts as a focal point for command and control for Marine Corps operations ashore. “It provides the commander with centralized capability to collect, process and disseminate tactical C2 data. It enables the watch officer or commander to maintain situational awareness with voice reports from the field, blue- and red-force tracking, streaming video. All that information from forward areas feeds back to the COC,” Mohler said.
The COC serves not just as a combat enabler, but also as a training tool. In May 2016, for example, participants in the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s predeployment training regimen monitored training runs via the COC. “Knowing how to keep track of Marines on the battlefield and maintaining communication between different units is vital to mission success,” a Marine Corps spokesman noted at the time.
The IP-enabled communications platform is not the only advance to be seen in the new software release. Last updated in 2015, the Window 7 platform has been upgraded to Windows 10. This comes as part of a migration dictated by the Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer, and it brings with it a higher degree of information security for operators in the field.