Piecing together a battle plan is an undertaking once reserved for commanders who sat high on a hill drinking a cognac and watching their strategy unfold. Today it is not only a task of a different colour, but now involves a party ripe with engineers, squad leaders and civilian consultants. The strategists, bullet-dodgers and 'bystanders' all have their part in the scenes that unfold in today's battlelab.
Today the true beginning of a battle plan begins by taking the equipment and technology on hand, and immersing them, with real hands-on operators, into combat scenarios, and developing solutions. During these technical forays problems inevitably arise in the communication, logistical, strategic or tactical arenas that raise red flags, signalling they require solutions. Problems such as the need to reposition a seismic sensor to cover a specific area, or to adjust the sensitivity of a sensor array; the need for certain guard posts to have direct communication links with standby air support or the realisation that certain drone capabilities are being heavily taxed during hi-stress situations.
Battlelabs can fall into a variety of categories, including training, simulation, research, development, battle management and other fields. The key words most used in discussions are usually network-enabled, transition and transformation. The transformation moniker refers to taking a unit of battle through the paces, discovering which assets and capabilities it lacks, and then adjusting the current assets or acquiring new ones to provide an acceptable solution.
Transformation can also be accomplished when a unit receives a new piece of gear or new battle asset; then scenarios are run with existing gear and assets and the new element is introduced in various stages or at various points in the timeline, which helps to develop a familiarity, discover unknown or unused capabilities and often leads to a realignment of current assets.
Thales has developed its Battle Transformation Centre (BTC) for just such a purpose. The BTC is a multi-sensor fusion tool that examines and evaluates a given battle scenario that is created by the end user.
The author was informed that a > is required to insert the requisite navigation data (fusing digital map and aerial/satellite photos), drone patrol circuits and ranges, foot and vehicle patrol coverage, stationary and mobile sensor information and their coverage patterns, access roads, as well as any combat elements.
Once the plan of the area is complete a unit can run exercises or scenarios using a combination of their own communication and electronic equipment on the premises and field units; including land, air and sea-based elements. Real equipment and personnel performing real tasks, or model-based simulated elements with planned sensor stimulation, or a combination of these.
With 19 centres scattered across the globe any scenario can be run in England whilst linked to the centre in Singapore and observed by the centre in Switzerland, for example. This is the beauty of a network-enabled system--as opposed to network-centric--as the network is not the centre of the...