C2 failures costing lives in AFG

Mr Happy

From Janes this week

Senior NATO officials say incompatible C2 endangers ISAF
NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan suffers a fatal lack of interoperable command-and-control (C2) equipment and intelligence-sharing networks, according to senior NATO commanders. The issues are especially severe in southern Afghanistan's Kandahar district and others where the Taliban's insurgency movement is strongest, and where fatalities involving ISAF soldiers could otherwise have been avoided or minimised, they stated
Good to see that NATO goti ts sh!t together. If true...

Interesting that its highlighted Kandahar - who's serving there?
What Janes says is true. It's the basic premise underpinning FIST. You know, the project that's meant to be replacing BOWMAN at Section, Platoon and Company level following the decision in 1999 that BOWMAN wasn't going to be up to the job. Which begs the question...............

As for interoperability between us and allies, it continues to happen more by accident than design.

Mr Happy

I thought FIST was all that ultimate soldier plasma rifle with battery's in your body armour gps arty on tgt at the press of a button business. E.g. a bit more than 'just replacing bowman'. My uncle was on the bowman project for nearly 20 years and as I understand it, its all fkced because of the royal artillery.
Mr Happy

That's what some would have had you believe a few years ago. I believe this rumour intensified when someone stuck posters of futuristic weapons up on a wall in Shabbywood, inferring this was what FIST was all about.

But, according to MoD and Industry blurb, FIST is due to deliver the SA80 replacement in phase 3, about 2015. However, this is a bit out of date. Phase 1 is/was due next year, but don't hold your breath. It is this first phase which is, in part, the BOWMAN PRR/VHF/PUDT etc replacement, the premise being that improved and integrated C4I (plus miscellaneous other factors which are being dealt with under other programmes e.g. PECOC) increases tempo, thus reducing casualties. This is the beginning and end of the FIST justification. The clue is in the title. F- Future. Yes, we know that. S - Soldier - Yes, it's for the soldier. T - Technology. Yes, that's what MoD buy. But the big I - Integrated, is the key and what the MoD haven't bothered about in the Infantry before. That's what will make the difference, and if it can't be delivered then the project dies.

The implicit acknowledgment here is that, without improved C4I/Integration/BOWMAN replacement, casualties are higher than they should be. Also implicit, when read in conjunction with various Select Committee reports, is that the MoD have known this for many years yet chose to spend money on BOWMAN, which they KNEW wasn't good enough and is not under remit to integrate BOWMAN, never mind integrate it with other systems the soldier uses. If FIST is not progressed satisfactorily, then the issue is compounded.

Batteries? BOWMAN buy old, excessively heavy batteries which don't work properly and haven't been integrated properly with the chargers. (There was a TOTAL recall last year of one type, which is a bit of a bummer when we don't have enough in the first place and are fighting wars on a number of fronts). No power > no C4I > increased casualties.

Press a button? Well, perhaps not the buttons shown on the old advertising (on the right side of the rifle, operated by the left hand) but the replacement C4I kit will certainly improve matters. GPS? Already got it, but the capability it provides will be better utilised.

This is discussed in detail on the BOWMAN thread in "Infantry" and is open source.
MSSC said:
ouyin said:
I think Kandahar is predominantly Canadian, who've suffered rather a lot of friendly fire.

Mine strike yes, what FF?

Apart from the 2002 USAF F16 incident.
There have, I believe, been two other incidents of this, not sure when though, I'll have to get back to you. Either way the Canadians I know are still pissed off about the 2002 one.
ouyin said:
MSSC said:
ouyin said:
I think Kandahar is predominantly Canadian, who've suffered rather a lot of friendly fire.

Mine strike yes, what FF?

Apart from the 2002 USAF F16 incident.
There have, I believe, been two other incidents of this, not sure when though, I'll have to get back to you. Either way the Canadians I know are still pissed off about the 2002 one.
1 definately about a year ago during Op MEDUSSA in the Panjwai valley. Think it was an A10 but not sure.
September 13, 2007 - 6:21PM
Learning who the enemy is
Multinational forces train to avoid friendly fire at Fort Irwin


FORT IRWIN — On the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, troops from different countries communicate using myriad languages — some spoken, some digital and some only visible through night-vision goggles — to communicate.

But sometimes the signals get crossed, languages muddled and messages do not come through with catastrophic results for the mission and deadly consequences for troops in the field.
Fratricide, friendly fire, the accidental killing of non-enemy troops have marred the United States and other nations during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This past week, soldiers from nine countries and NATO came to Fort Irwin and Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada to use the wide-open space and Fort Irwin’s simulated training environments to test equipment designed to improve communication between ground and air troops and reduce friendly fire deaths.

The trick, said Bob Landry, a civilian with Joint Forces Command, is to make sure that all the vehicles and planes participating in a mission know who is a friend and who is a foe, and where everyone is on the battlefield.

To help replicate the complexity of the battlefield, defense forces from the United States, Canada, Sweden, the Netherlands, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark and NATO brought more than 400 troops, 30 planes and countless vehicles equipped with the latest in target tracking and identification technologies to Fort Irwin and Nellis Air Force Base for a dry run.

“New technology gives us new challenges,” Landry said. “Now we have the capability to send precise target locations. However, if that information gets messed up or scrambled, weapons can be delivered to the wrong location.”

In past situations in Afghanistan and Iraq, U.S. forces have bombed friendly British and Canadian forces, resulting in deaths.

Landry said the training done at Fort Irwin aims to reduce those deaths and increase the effectiveness of multinational missions.

Lance Cpl. Dan Tracey from Canada said the training took proactive steps to prevent fratricide rather than just react.

The Canadians had a light-armored vehicle equipped with infrared panels, strobe lights, and other signaling devices to help nations identify them.

The panels and strobe lights can only be seen with night vision goggles, and mounted next to the vehicles top machine gun is a light that turns blue when a friendly force points weapons at it.

“It’s not 100 percent. Some days it works really awesome, some days not so much,” Tracey said. “Yesterday (Tuesday), we were out, and it was awesome. We could see friendlies throughout the mission.”

Seeing friend and foe, Tracey said, is important to the Canadians.

“That’s our big concern,” he said. “Canadians did fall to fratricide over there.”

American soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division out of Fort Hood brought a Bradley fighting vehicle equipped the latest in tracking technologies.

Sgt. James Milton said his Bradley has a tracking device, similar to a hand-held global positioning device, that can keep track of who is who on the battlefield.

He said before such technology, the Bradley would roll up to a mission and send the soldiers out of its back door not knowing the situation on the ground.

“It definitely helps limit confusion on the battlefield,” Milton said.

Also involved in the exercise was Fort Irwin’s own, 11th Cavalry Regiment. The 11th CR normally trains U.S. forces from around the country for battle in Iraq and Afghanistan in the simulated villages scattered throughout the desert.

Col. Chuck Hensley said for this training exercise his soldiers developed different scenarios — raiding a terrorist camp, containing an attack site, securing a town and escorting convoys — and inserted 11th CR soldiers into the mix to play the role of enemy forces.

“So far we’ve been very successful on creating confusing situations but having the pilots work through it,” Hensley said.

When the training started, Hensley said things got “ugly.”

Pilots nearly dropped fake bombs on friendly forces, and in one situation, a pilot flew around for an hour waiting to get instructions.

But, Hensley said, by the third day, things smoothed out.

Murray Dixon, a analyst working with the project, said that statistics and data gathered from the operation show that force and technology compatibility has improved during the course of the training.

To his knowledge, there had been only one for sure instance of a fratricide during the training, but stories from soldiers involved indicate more.

A Canadian crew accidentally shot a Swedish crew during a mission, he said, calling it a “textbook fratricide.”

“When it does work,” Dixon said of the new technologies, “It works beautifully.”

Dixon expects the final report on the training operation will be completed in January 2008.

Sometimes, all you need is a pair of sunglasses

FORT IRWIN — A few countries debuted state-of-the art laser technologies to help troops identify vehicles as friend or foe.

In some instances, signals ping across the desert telling the driver of one armored vehicle that the driver of another armored vehicle is on the same team.

One company, however, showed up with a more basic, yet still effective solution, sunglasses.

Eva Sbardella, who works for NightMarker, brought out different lenses that fit on the headlights of Humvees and onto night-vision goggles that help troops better identify the shapes of vehicles and whether a vehicle is friend or foe better at night.

She said with current technology, large amounts of white light, ambient and other lights in the area, distorts a troop’s night vision.

An on-coming vehicle may only look like two blobs of light to a troop, she said, leaving the troop in the dark.

The lenses filter out excess light and provide soldiers with better pictures on the battlefield.

The lenses fit on easily, Sbardella said. They slide over the headlights of HUMVEEs and flip over the lenses of night-vision goggles much like flip-up sunglasses.
Allies compare technology and tactics; aim to reduce friendly fire casualtiesSep 13, 2007

OTTAWA (CP) — Most of the countries fighting in Afghanistan are comparing technology and ideas this week in the Nevada and California deserts in the first large-scale multinational effort to reduce friendly fire casualties.

Canada's contribution to the demonstration involves three CF-18 fighter jets, a contingent of soldiers and fighting vehicles from 1st Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment, based in Petawawa, Ont. It comes just a few weeks after investigations in both Canada and the United States determined better training, equipment and co-ordination could have prevented the accidental strafing of a company of Canadian soldiers last year.

The split-second mistake, by the pilot of an American A-10 Thunderbolt, left Pte. Mark Graham dead and 30 other members of Charles Company wounded at Ma'sum Ghar, about 40 kilometres west of Kandahar.

It was the second deadly air-to-ground friendly fire attack in Afghanistan since 2002. Four Canadians were killed and eight wounded after a U.S. F-16 fighter mistook a training exercise at Tarnack Farms for a real attack.

"We're all very, very motivated to find solutions to the continued scourge of fratricide," said Lt.-Col. Peter Neilsen, who's in charge of the 125 member Canadian team.

Aside from Canada and the U.S., ground units and aircraft from Australia, France, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Britain are taking part in the trials until Sept. 22.

There are 37 countries fighting in Afghanistan, each of them with their own communications equipment and procedures for recognizing friend from foe.

U.S. Air Force Col. Lou Durkac said the demonstration, taking place simultaneously at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada and at the ground combat training school in Fort Irwin, Calif., gives the allies a chance to look at each other's technology and figure out what works best.

They'll also get a look at state-of-the-art target identification devices for vehicles and soldiers, as well as software systems for aircraft that parse the battlefield for pilots.

Neilsen said a secondary objective of the session is to find ways to reduce civilian casualties in air strikes, which has been a huge issue in Afghanistan, one that has seen support for NATO plummet in the war-torn country.

"The technologies we're demonstrating here will aid the commander and the shooter in the battle space in identifying not only friend from foe, but neutrals as well and that's a very critical capability," he said.

Neilsen didn't elaborate on how the system is able to do that.

The Americans, as the leaders in air strike technology, are not pressuring other countries to buy specific systems, Durkac stressed during a conference call Thursday with defence reporters.

The confusion and occasional tragedy that have resulted from mixing different equipment and procedures, as bullets and rockets are flying, has been a source of frustration for NATO commanders in Afghanistan and U.S. generals overseeing coalition operations in Iraq.

"We figure if we can inter-operate to a higher degree, then fratricide reduction will be a direct result," Durkac said.

Some of the allies fighting in Afghanistan held a small conference in Britain a couple of years ago, but the demonstration going on this week is the first concerted effort at co-ordination, Neilson said.

A board of inquiry report into the friendly fire incident at Ma'sum Ghar blamed the unidentified U.S. pilot, concluding that he mistook a garbage fire lit by Canadian troops for a Taliban target just bombed on the other side of the Arghandab River.

The pilot's squadron commander has yet to decide whether there will be any disciplinary action.

The investigation also found that Canadian troops who direct air strikes need to be better trained - a recommendation the army is already acting on by doubling the qualifying time for controllers.
Hello winnfield,

thankyou for posting those articles.
Most,or at least the most lethal,fratricides involve close air support.
Speed and altitude make it difficult for a pilot to recognise friend and foe on the ground and pilots do not have the situational awareness of the troops they are supporting,who may have been in contact for some time before the aircraft arrives on scene.
Lateral thinking might suggest the addition of more organic firepower to ground units to reduce their dependence on air support,thus reducing incidence of air support being called for in the first place.
Ground assets are typically far cheaper to purchase and operate than air assets and can be with the units they support all the time.
Would this be practical?


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