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Tactical Operation Centers Enhance Modular Capabilities
By U.S. Army Pfc. Victoria Ziegler / 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs

FORT HOOD, Texas, March 9, 2005 – The 4th Infantry Division set up the first of its new tactical centers during a command post exercise at the battle simulation center here Jan. 18 through Friday.

The purpose of the weeklong exercise, and upcoming command-post exercises, is to test, improve and enhance the division’s digital and modular capabilities.

"The (modular forward tactical operation centers) offer more command and control, flexibility and mobility for the division commander."
U.S. Army Capt. Patrick Cobb

The new command model adds two smaller and more mobile command groups that operate in conjunction with the main command post, which is generally stationary.

This is a big change for the division, said Sgt. Maj. Luis Rivera. Instead of operating strictly from the main division headquarters, the commander can access information from two forward tactical centers.

DTAC1, as the first team is known, operates under Brig. Gen. Nolen Bivens, the assistant division commander for maneuver, said Rivera.

The other team, DTAC2, falls under Brig. Gen. David Halverson, the assistant division commander for support.

Each team contains a slice of all the division staff sections, noted Rivera. Both teams are identical to each other as far as personnel and equipment.

Since they are identical to each other, they can sustain each other, said Capt. Patrick Cobb, battle command sustainment support systems operations officer.

If one team was to become inoperational, the other could take over command of the operation.

The teams are also self-sustaining and self-supported, said Rivera. Under the Army’s modularity plan, the division now has permanent sections that were once borrowed as need dictated.

By keeping the staff permanent, the different sections train together, as they would deploy, promoting greater cohesion and therefore functionality. For example, each team now has its own fires and effects cell and air defense cell.

Because they are self-sustaining, the tactical center teams can be plugged anywhere, enhancing and conforming to the Army’s modularity plan, said Rivera. They can even deploy with a brigade under another division commander. If necessary, the teams can also function independently.

The teams are smaller and mobile, said Rivera. A tactical center team staff comprises more sections than have previously been established; however, there are fewer personnel overall.

There is a decrease in personnel because there is a smaller requirement for drivers and operators.

The smaller size allows the team to mobilize more quickly than the division command headquarters, added Capt. Paula Rodriguez, deputy division transportation officer.

To help shrink the response and mobilization times of units such as the new tactical center teams, the Army invested in new lightweight deployable rapid assembly shelters that can be easily erected and quickly stored or transported.

Another improvement is the upgrade in software to ABCS 6.4, said Rivera, which improves facilitation of communication, planning and coordination.

The implementation of modular forward tactical operation centers has been tested by other units, including 3rd Infantry Division and 101st Airborne Division, commented Rivera. They have offered valuable insight and recommendations for improvement.

The military must be flexible, said Rivera. In Iraq, the division fought more on a brigade level. It was there that the need for modular brigades became evident, as did the need for modular forward tactical operation centers.

The Army and the division are constantly learning from the past and driving towards improvement, said Rivera.

The new improvements offer many benefits to the division, which Cobb said increases his confidence in the operational capabilities in Iraq.

“The (modular forward tactical operation centers) offer more command and control, flexibility and mobility for the division commander,” Cobb said.

Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelters

The new Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelters provide the military with lightweight tent structures that are modular in design, said Michael Varnadoe, product support for DHS Logistics Co., which manufactures the product.

The tents are easily and quickly erected, dismantled and transported. The tents vary in size and can be interconnected into many different designs to accommodate different tactical needs, said Varnadoe.

“You can build your own little city,” he explained.

The combined structure the tactical operations center operated in for its digital exercise was estimated at $1.3 million.

The new climate-controlled structures are more comfortable and spacious but less cluttered and cumbersome, Rivera said.

Internal communication and interaction improved with the new structures, added Rivera. The old system involved a formation of trucks that were docked together. The new deployable rapid assembly tents are more open, while still allowing each personnel section to have its own work area.

When packed up, the larger shelters load into trailers, said Varnadoe. Soldiers can carry the smaller shelters.

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