The 2nd Infantry Division had an information
management problem. Faced with one year tours, an extremely high operations
tempo, and the 4th largest army in
the world only 15 miles away, the young soldiers assigned to 2ID could not effectively
use the Maneuver Control System (MCS). Despite the division running a one week
course constantly, operators could pass text messages between tactical operations
center at best. The software was too complex for the average soldier to understand.
was specialized and few soldiers could troubleshoot or correct even simple hardware
problems. Finally, the hardware requirements of the software limited the number
of workstations within the division. There was no redundancy available and
if a critical site
lost its MCS, that site would be down until the remaining MCS terminals could
be reallocated within the division. What 2ID needed a simple, easy-to-use software
that enhanced operational awareness between the division TOCs and major subordinate
commands and ran on a common and widely available hardware platform.
As a result of these problems with MCS, 2ID G6 office and the 122nd Signal
Battalion developed the 2ID Tactical World-Wide Web (TACWEB) (See Figure 1).
TACWEB is a simple, easy-to-use classified, tactical information management
system that tracks the
battle status of units, battlefield operating systems (BOS) and other key information
such as significant events, commander situation reports, weather, priority
personnel status reports, and logistics status reports. TACWEB minimizes network
bandwidth requirements to be highly effective over Mobile Subscriber Equipment
provides an effective information management system that quickly focuses leaders
on issues and provides a degree of synergy previously unseen. It is a combat
The G6, with the support and guidance of the Commanding General, Assistant
Division Commander (Maneuver), Chief of Staff, and G3, developed TACWEB using
the following design
- TACWEB must present information with increasing levels of detail.
- TACWEB must be easy to use.
- TACWEB must run on commercial, off-the-shelf, hardware and software that
is relatively inexpensive.
- TACWEB must run effectively over MSE.
Increasing Levels of Details
TACWEB is first and foremost an information management system. It displays
the current status of units and BOS in an easy to understand format of automated,
displays (HUDs). These HUDs are the gateway to additional information and consist
series of color-coded "gumballs" (See Figure 1). Each gumball is green,
amber, red, black or white depending on status. If the user moves the mouse over
a gumball, a
comment field automatically appears, superimposed over the HUD, with additional
information on the gumball selected. By convention, all amber and red gumballs
comments. Those green gumballs that have comments have a "C" centered
in the middle of the gumball. This indicates that while the system being reported
is green, the
commander or staff element has provided a comment that requires division command
group attention. If the user desires more information, he or she need only click
on the gumball
to load an additional page that provides another level of detail (See Figure
2). Each gumball is linked to a different report depending on the topic. For
example, the division
commander reviews the Unit Status Report and notices the 1st Brigade
is amber in weapons system. He moves the mouse over the amber gumball and automatically
commanders assessment of weapons status becomes visible as a superimposed
from the latest commanders situation report. If the division commander
requires additional information, he then clicks on the gumball to bring up a
display of the weapons status of the brigade with the number of operational weapons
of each subordinate battalion as well as a total weapons summary of the brigade.
weapon status reports provide automatic totals of weapon systems across the entire
division (See Figure 3). Thus, users can control the amount of detail visible,
from division to battalion level, so as to have the right amount of information
Easy to Use
TACWEB is easy to use. Users submit information through a fill-in-the-blank
Common Gateway Interface (CGI) form running on TACWEB. Users simply fill in
the appropriate form
for a report and click on a submit button (See Figure 3). The information is
transmitted as ASCII text over the MSE network to the TACWEB server where it
is automatically added to
the Divisions database. When users submit an updated report, all of the
information from a previous report is automatically loaded so that the user need
only make the
necessary changes to submit an updated report. Users can be trained to submit
TACWEB reports in less than 15 minutes and to fully utilize the informational
resources of TACWEB
in less than four hours. Compared to MCS, it is a very easy system to use.
From the commanders perspective, TACWEB is likewise very easy to use.
The divisional database takes the data provided by users and automatically
transforms it into
a series of automated HUDs that track critical battlefield information. Commanders
can quickly and visually assess the status of units and BOS without reading mountains
of reports. Critical information is automatically updated at set intervals so
and the division staff always have the latest information to make decisions.
commanders situation reports are received, the division staff can provide
comments, linked to the situation report, with ongoing efforts to resolve issues.
It quickly becomes
clear what issues are being resolved and what issues have somehow been lost.
With automated updates and color-coded displays, the division command group can
the status of the division and focus on those critical issues that make a difference.
The synergistic impact of this automated, real-time information fusion cannot
be understated. Issues are immediately apparent. Disconnects between staff
and units are
likewise apparent. TACWEB users can easily assess the status of the entire division
in but a single moment. TACWEB even synchronizes all of the computers accessing
the server so
that everyone is using the same current time. Everyone is working using the same,
Finally, TACWEB is easy to customize to fit rapidly changing conditions. The
G3 can easily task organize the division and then change the task organization
in the middle of
an operation to meet operational requirements. The changes are immediately visible
to all units. The TACWEB task organization tool also allows other units to
easy use and exploit
TACWEB. It is not coded so as to work only with 2ID but instead is written to
any unit. The 82nd Airborne Division or 3rd Corps could
easily install and operate the software without modifying the TACWEB software.
Likewise, the G3
can easily change pacing items and weapon systems and those changes are immediately
reflected on unit commander situation reports and logistics status reports. This
provides the division command group the ability to track critical equipment and
change what the
critical equipment is as the battle progresses. For example, as the division
fights defensive operations and then transitions into a counterattack and river
pacing items for subordinate units can change.
Hardware and Software Requirements
TACWEB requires a personal computer capable of running the Microsoft Windows
95 or NT operating system and Internet Explorer 3.02 or higher WWW browser.
It performs best on
Internet Explorer 4.0. There are an adequate number of computers within 2ID capable
of meeting the hardware requirements and Internet Explorer 4.0 is a free software
such, the hardware and software requirements of TACWEB are minimal compared to
Effective Over MSE
To be useful, TACWEB must be effective over MSE. TACWEB reports are small
ASCII text transfers and as such, require limited bandwidth. The largest TACWEB
report, the unit
LOGSAT which is only submitted twice per day, is less than 60 kilobytes in size
TACWEB reports are much smaller in size.
The TACWEB interface is spartan yet functional in appearance. Graphics are
strictly minimized to limit network load. With the exception of the four small
amber, red, and black) each of which is less than 5k in size and each of which
only have to be loaded once, there are no graphics in 2ID TACWEB. Every other
component is HTML code
which is transmitted as ASCII text. There are no Microsoft Word documents, Excel
spreadsheets, or PowerPoint slideshows. In fact, the bandwidth constraints are
so low that users with STU-III telephones and the Windows NT operating system
can dial in to the
system and access TACWEB information. TACWEB is effective in low-bandwidth systems.
Once loaded, the information displayed is static and does require any network
resources with two exceptions: the significant events frame and the marquee
line update every two
and five minutes respectively. Otherwise, the user must refresh the pages as
needed. As a result, TACWEB places an extremely limited network load over the
MSE network while
providing a highly effective information system.
2ID implemented TACWEB prior to and during Ulchi Focus Lens, a major Korean
simulations exercise. It was immediately successful and received command emphasis
as the command group
exploited the potential of TACWEB. It was also used during the next divisional
exercise, WarPath II which is the division rehearsal for its WarFighter exercise.
communicator/ automator perspective, sensitivity to network outages and especially
outages of the tactical packet network increased as TACWEB gained increased
importance within the
division. The Division Command Group perceived TACWEB as a real-time reporting
system. Outages were immediately noticed and resolution of outages received
Techniques such as dual-homing of SENs and increasing bandwidth available through
the application of software template S3T and hardware patches took on added
Switch operators had to adjust to this heightened sensitivity and aggressively
monitor the tactical packet network. SYSCON likewise became very sensitive
to the data network. Data,
not voice trunks, became the benchmark of the MSE network. This was a fundamental
for 2ID and the 122nd Signal Battalion.
While the first exercise, Ulchi Focus Lens demonstrated the potential of TACWEB,
the WarPath II exercise validated this perceived potential. The division staff
units accessed TACWEB over 400,000 times in a five day exercise and downloaded
over 2.6 gigabytes of information. The average access time was approximately
4.5 seconds. TACWEB
was fast and useful and as a result, units used it extensively.
Numerous exercise examples illustrate the functionality of TACWEB. Twice during
commanding generals morning update, the status of units changed rapidly
during the brief and division command group had the necessary information to
make immediate decisions
based on accurate, real-time information of all major subordinate commands. Without
TACWEB, this synergistic view of the battlefield would not have been possible
and the division would not have been able to react to rapidly evolving situations.
evaluators confirmed what everyone on division staff already knew: TACWEB was
The synergistic view provided by TACWEB also facilitated rapid and accurate
parallel planning process. Because everyone knew the real-time status of divisional
units down to
how many tanks and APCs were available in each unit, units and staff elements
could anticipate future operations and begin parallel planning. This was especially
the Aviation Brigade commander who was adept at using the TACWEB.
Finally, the linking of unit statuses with staff assessments and comments
also proved to be invaluable in synchronizing staff actions to address statuses.
visibility of divisional efforts to address personnel and equipment shortcomings.
The G1, G3, and G4 aggressively tracked unit statuses and responded to unit
issues in a manner
that had previously been impossible.
While TACWEB is an effective information management system, it does have certain
- TACWEB is only visible to units with MSE switch support.
- TACWEB does not provide friendly and enemy situational awareness.
- Information security of TACWEB.
- Limitations of WWW technology.
TACWEB and MSE
TACWEB utilizes the MSE data network as its transport mechanism. As such,
TACWEB is currently only visible to units with dedicated Small or Large Extension
Node (SEN or LEN)
support. Battalions internal to a brigade do not have access to TACWEB and as
a result cannot submit reports over TACWEB or receive information. While this
effectiveness of TACWEB, it also limits the potential for compromise of the TACWEB
system. Other units in the Army face the same problem. As solutions such as
the Surrogate Digital
Radio are tested and validated as part of the Advanced WarFighter Experiment,
adapt these technologies to expand TACWEB to battalion level.
Friendly and Enemy Situational Awareness
TACWEB does not provide a situation map that indicates the locations of friendly
and enemy units. TACWEB does provide, in a consolidated task organization format,
coordinates of all friendly forces. 2ID currently uses WARLORD and the Army Deep
Operations Command System (ADOCS) to provide an automated system for friendly
and enemy situational awareness. WARLORD and ADOCS terminals are capable of
accessing and displaying
TACWEB information. In an ideal case, TACWEB would be capable of displaying a
TACWEB provides excellent internal information security. An easy-to-use security
interface allows web administrators the capability to set permissions by staff
section and unit. These permissions address all possible actions on the TACWEB
site except viewing.
This lack of protection against viewing pages is a fundamental weakness of the
system. If the enemy gains access to the system through the MSE network, the
entire divisional status
is available. While this is unlikely, future revisions to the TACWEB software
will address these security concerns through initial and periodic authentication
Limitations of WWW Technology
While WWW technology is constantly improving, there are significant limitations
in the underlying technology. The WWW does not support the easy presentation
of briefing material
in a format similar to dedicated presentation software such as PowerPoint or
Harvard Graphics. Overlaying graphics to form complex presentations is simple
software and very difficult with the WWWs language, the Hypertext Markup
Language (HTML). As a result, users have false expectations on the ease of generating
informational displays over the WWW. For example, forming a terrain map with
unit locations overlaid is extremely difficult and requires the developed of
a specialized and
complex JAVA applet where it is a relatively simple task in PowerPoint. Moreover,
the WWW was developed for the efficient presentation of relatively static information
and not the
presentation of real-time information over low-bandwidth networks in a tactical
environment. These limitations hinder the potential of TACWEB to replace other
information management systems.
Additional development of TACWEB is focused on:
- Integrating the databases of TACWEB, the Army Deep Operations Control System
(ADOCS), and WARLORD. Sharing information between these automated systems
clearly will enhance
information flow internal to a TOC.
- Enhancing the operational security of TACWEB. TACWEB makes it too easy
to compromise the status of all divisional units. Additional security measures
- Testing TACWEB under adverse conditions during WarPath II, Foal Eagle,
and Warfighter. All three of these divisional exercises occur within a two-month
period and will
significantly test the capabilities of TACWEB under a variety of trying conditions.
TACWEB is a highly effective tactical information management system. It has
fundamentally changed how the 2nd Infantry Division uses information
and automation systems to form a coherent picture of the battlefield. It allows
the ability to make decisions faster based on more timely information and thus
the enemy commanders decision cycle. It is an easy-to-use combat multiplier
day, will save the lives of soldiers on the battlefield.
MAJ Carver is the Deputy G6 of 2nd Infantry Division. He has served
in a variety of staff and command positions including Assistant Professor,
Battalion S3, Company Commander, Airborne Combat Team Signal Officer, and Platoon
He has a bachelors degree from the United States Military Academy and a
Masters degree from Texas A&M University.
2LT Purcell is the System Integrations officer of 2nd Infantry
Division and the primary developer of TACWEB. This is his first assignment.
He has a bachelors
degree from Southern Illinois University .
LTC Johnson is the 2nd Infantry Division G6 and battalion commander
122nd Signal Battalion. He has served in a variety of staff and command
positions including Platoon Leader, Company Commander, Battalion S3, Deputy G6,
Project Manager, and Deputy Operations Officer, White House Communications Agency.
He has a
bachelors degree from Howard University and a masters degree from
MAJ John Lehman is 2nd Infantry Division Automation Officer. He
in a variety of staff and command position including 7th CSG S3, 19th
CMMC LASSO, and company commander. He has a bachelors degree from the Citadel.