Bamboo Eagle 24-1: TACP maximize C2 mesh communications

  • Published
  • By Capt. Christian Little
  • 93 AGOW

A team of Tactical Air Control Party members tested mesh communication networks during exercise Bamboo Eagle 24-1 at San Clemente Island, Ca., Jan. 25 – Feb. 2, 2024.

Within the exercise, TACP from the 14th Air Support Operations Squadron experimented how they can best use communications equipment to create these mesh communication networks on the battlefield to support identifying and engaging targets.

“The need to build a more robust ground-based C2 architecture is obvious, and we must continue refining the application for TACP C2 capabilities in future exercises,” said Maj. Carl Plonk, 505th Command and Control Wing C2 Integration chief, Hurlburt Field, Florida. “The 14th ASOS was a vital asset to the BE 24-1 C2 structure and overall exercise, because they made the C2 architecture more redundant and more expansive; their contributions to the exercise were a huge step in the right direction for C2 information sharing.”

Building redundancy and spreading out C2 nodes enables these forces to mitigate the negative effects of terrain, distance and adversarial communication jamming. In addition to enhancing the C2 communications infrastructure, TACP teams spread out across San Clemente Island to act as human sensors to support targeting for air and naval strikes.

“A ground-based mesh network allows us to get in and provide a picture of the battlespace where other assets can’t,” said 1st Lt. Robbie Wyton, 14th ASOS TACP officer. “It allows us to provide timely and accurate targeting data when situations would prevent the military from gathering it, whether that’s due to weather, terrain or enemy air defense systems.”

Wyton and his team experimented with a variety of communications equipment and methods to ensure they were able to transmit critical data.

“Being able to rely on a diverse set of waveforms allows us to create a resilient communications plan in changing environments,” Wyton said. “We need to be able to set up comms in any environment and any conditions.”

Using these tactics, TACP teams were able to transmit targets on islands and in the surrounding sea for air and naval assets to prosecute during exercise operations.

“I think the TACP weapon system is a unique organization when it comes to expeditionary communications,” said Capt. Ryan Laube, 14th ASOS Special Warfare Mission Support director. “They’re one of the few that I’ve seen be able to execute many different waveforms and do that in some of the most expeditionary environments with a great deal of success.”

The first step for TACP teams was to enable dispersed, ground-based communications, C2 and targeting, but they are looking for ways to further enhance their capabilities.

“I think the future as we continue to evolve our capabilities is going to be geared more toward operating below the noise floor,” Laube said. “Transitioning to where we can communicate back to any command-and-control network while being undetectable by our adversaries.”