Navy's communications game plan calls for teamwork in the field

SAN DIEGO'Navy Adm. Walter F. Doran said military services could learn about cohesive teamwork from the New England Patriots and the services' own Joint Task Force 519.

Task Force 519, a relatively new concept, is a fully deployable, joint task force whose members are spread throughout the Pacific region and rely on the Internet to stay abreast of assignments, Doran said. He compared their approach to the team-first concept of the Super Bowl champion Patriots.

He gave the luncheon keynote yesterday at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Command's West 2004 show in San Diego.

"They knew very well how to work together," the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet said about the Patriots. "Today's era, people celebrate individual accomplishments. The whole idea of joint operations is bringing our services together as one fighting force'taking into account our individual strengths."

That's the idea behind Task Force 519, which Doran also commands. With 400 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines assigned to the staff, its mission is to plan for contingency operations.

In two exercises, known as Terminal Fury, over the past five months, the task force trained in Hawaii and aboard the USS Blue Ridge in Japan.

In Hawaii, the team built a temporary base camp in a park during a torrential downpour. As members fought off droves of centipedes and other field critters, they used the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet as the primary means of communicating. They had more than 100 notebook PCs spread out in makeshift conference rooms'referred to as battle cells'as well as video teleconferencing and voice over IP capabilities they used to share information, Doran said.

In December, they were transferred to Japan via the tech-laden Air Force C-17, a plane with a high-speed data antenna and two channels of 64-Kbps ISDN connectivity. The plane also had Non-Classified and Secret IP Router Network capabilities, and members used the common operational picture to retrieve and send e-mail.

Once aboard the USS Blue Ridge, off the coast of Japan, the task force used a communications package that included technical expertise from NMCI staff members.

Now, Doran said he wants to expand the interoperability and joint fight mission to coalition forces. The Regional Maritime Security Program, which is being discussed by allied countries and the U.S. military for use against such regional problems as arms and drug trafficking, and piracy, is a way for military officials to share data with other federal agencies as well as with other countries.

The initiative would involve looking at each country's software to see what systems they have in common with the U.S. military and make use of their compatibility, Doran said.

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