Command and Control for Missiles and Space

April 1, 1960

“Without communications, all I com­mand is my desk.”

As dramatic as it is succinct, this comment by Gen. Thomas S. Power, SAC’s Commander in Chief, puts in focus the utter helplessness of a commander who cannot find out what is going on nor convey his decisions to his subordinates. One cannot command without control, and one cannot control without instan­taneous communications.

The military definition for command and con­trol systems calls them “those major systems, usually electronic in character, which are used to collect, transmit, process, and display the data required for timely decisions needed for modern-day control of our weapons and to facilitate high­ly complex decisions.”

What this means is that the Air Force needs eyes and ears (radar, infrared sensors, cameras, etc.) to seek out and collect information, it needs a nervous system to transmit the information to the brain and to translate the brain’s decision into offensive or defensive action of the arms and legs (movement and strike action of weapons). This big Air Force nervous system is made up of com­mand and control systems.

To cope with the requirement, increased im­measurably by the introduction of ocean-span­ning ballistic missiles into the force and the promise of intricate space systems to come, the Air Force is riding the wave of what some call “the electronic revolution.” Giant strides are be­ing made in data acquisition, transmission, stor­age, and retrieval—made possible primarily by the development of more sophisticated computers.

Computers are commonly, but erroneously, called “electronic brains.” They are not quite that, yet, although scientists are looking to the day when computers will be able to “think” as well as store and process data. What they are able to do, if given the proper orders through a system called “programming,” is to assimilate vast amounts of data, sort through them, and come up with a display of information, in some cases offering a number of different decision choices. But the commander still must command; the decision is his, not the computer’s.

The lack of a clear understanding as to the strength and weakness of computers has, in some cases, given rise to unrealistic military require­ments. Every commander wants all the informa­tion he can get that bears on the decision he has to make. This in turn can put a burden on com­munications and computers that is out of pro­portion to the benefit received—if, indeed, pos­sible at all.

Hence, it is mandatory that command and con­trol systems meet the standards of technical realism—what is really feasible within the state of the art, of cost, and, very important, of inte­gration—the ability to talk with one another and to complement, rather than compete.

It is in recognition of this fact that the recent reorganization of the Air Research and Develop­ment Command set up, as one of four major divisions, a Command and Control Development Division (immediately dubbed C2D2—C square D square). To provide logistic support, following the precedent established in the ARDC-AMC re­lationship in air weapons and ballistic missiles, development and procurement, Air Materiel Com­mand established a logistic opposite number for C2D2. This has been named the Electronic Systems Center.

Location for the new headquarters has been placed at Laurence G. Hanscom Field, Bedford, Mass. The Hanscom area already houses ARDC’s Cambridge Research Center, the Lincoln Labora­tory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Air Defense Systems Integration Division (ADSID). It also lies in the heart of the mush­rooming electronic industry complex of the Greater Boston area. The entrance to Hanscom is just off Route 128, known as the “electronic horseshoe,” which is lined with one new electronic installation after another.

Heading the Command and Control Develop­ment Division is Maj. Gen. Kenneth P. Berg­quist, who has been Commander of ADSID since its inception in July 1958. His Air Materiel Command opposite number and Commander, Electronic Systems Center, is Maj. Gen. Clyde Mitchell, formerly Commander, Rome Air Materiel Area, Rome, N. Y.

General Bergquist., forty-seven, a 1935 West Point graduate, brings to his new job a wealth of operational experience, particularly in air defense where the need for an integrated electronic control system early became apparent, one result being the Lincoln Lab-developed SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment system) now in operation.

General Mitchell, fifty-four, a 1930 graduate of the University of Detroit, is in his thirty-first year of commissioned service. His materiel ex­perience dates back to 1942, when he was Chief of Fighter Aircraft Procurement at Wright Field, until after World War II. With minor exceptions, he has been in the logistics business ever since.

At this point, perhaps a word about ADSID will serve to illustrate the new role of C2D2, since in effect the C2D2 concept is a lineal descendant. ADSID was set up after the electronic computers had invaded the air defense field—its job to en­sure that all air defense weapons and the elec­tronic systems which controlled them were com­patible one with another. Hence the important word “integration” in the title—Air Defense Sys­tems Integration Division. Germane to the prob­lem also was the need for positive control of the entire air battle—offensive as well as defensive.

As General LeMay once put the problem: “Our air offense and our air defense cannot be permitted to interfere with each other. This requires close direction and control to assure protection of our offensive and defensive forces and the most effec­tive destruction of enemy forces. To achieve the greatest effectiveness we cannot have confusion in orders, procedures, or identification. To fight any battle, the defensive and offensive forces must be interrelated and centrally controlled to get the best results. In fighting an air battle, this principle is even more of a requirement because of the great flexibility, high speeds, lethal weapons, and great ranges involved.”

It would be hard to find a better statement of work for ADSID and for its successors—Com­mand and Control Development Division, ARDC, and Electronic Systems Center, AMC. In the vast and growing field of electronic control systems for aircraft, missiles, and exotic space systems yet unborn, their job is to develop and procure systems that will be technically compatible—”make it work”—and programmed to put the right component in the right place at the right time—”make it come out even.”

To provide systems engineering and technical direction to C2D2, the Air Force has expanded the area of interest of an organization originally set up to perform essentially the same functions for ADSID. This is a nonprofit corporation known as MITRE.

The MITRE Corporation is an outgrowth of the long association of the Air Force with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the air defense field. MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory research in this area has spawned, among other develop­ments, SAGE.

However, MIT felt that, while research quite property fell in the province of the institute, active technical direction and systems manage­ment clearly did not. Hence, a nonprofit corpora­tion, MITRE, was set up under MIT sponsorship, with the core of its staff recruited from Lincoln. The name has a dual significance—from the word “mitre” to fit together, and Massachusetts Insti­tute of Technology-Research Engineering.

MITRE’s President., C. W. Halligan, is on leave from Bell Telephone Laboratories, where he was director of military engineering. He has been concerned with air defense matters for the past eight years. Vice President for Technical Opera­tions is Robert R. Everett. Executive Vice Presi­dent, who joined MITRE in January, is Peter J. Schenk, well known to AIR FORCE/SPACE DIGEST readers as immediate past president of the Air Force Association.

Unlike the Ballistic Missile Division, which was able to start operation with a clean slate, the job of C2D2, ESC, and MITRE is complicated by the fact that they have inherited projects and organizations already in being and operating. And there is still a good deal of sorting out as to who is to do what to whom. To this end, the problem is currently being examined by an ad hoc organi­zation known as the Winter Study Group, with representation from all interested parties, includ­ing Hq. USAF, ARDC, AMC, and the using commands. Technical Director of the Winter Study Group is Gordon Thayer, a Vice President of American Telephone and Telegraph. Under Mr. Thayer, Lt. Col. John L. Lombardo of C2D2 and J. F. Jacobs, Technical Director of MITRE, co­ordinate the work of panels of technical experts concerned with various phases of the command and control problem.

Winter Study Group panels include: Systems (including a NORAD subpanel), Data Processing Equipment, Data Processing Utilization, Display, Communications Equipment, Sending Equipment, Cost, Threat, Vulnerability, Design Methodology, People, Reliability, Weapons, and Logistics.

The Group is advised and directed by a steering group set up within the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force. The chairman of the steering group is Dr. A. G. Hill of MIT, who formerly headed Lincoln Laboratory. Serving with Dr. Hill are Dr. W. O. Baker, Vice President for Research, Bell Telephone Laboratory; Dr. Ivan Getting, Vice President of Engineering and Research,. Raytheon; Mr. Halligan. President of MITRE; Dr. R. F. Mettler, Executive Vice President, Space Technology Laboratory; Dr. Carl Overhage, Director, Lincoln Laboratory; Dr. Emanuel Piore, Director of Research, IBM; Dr. Allen Puckett, Vice President, Hughes Aircraft; Dr. W. H. Rad­ford, Associate Director, Lincoln; Dr. H. Guyford Stever and Dr. Jerome B. Wiesner of MIT.

A tentative deadline for the final report of the Winter Study Group has been set for July 1, but no one will be surprised if that schedule slips by a month or so. The report will be the basis for a detailed charter of Air Force interest and operations in the electronic systems field and as such will have deep implications for the Air Force and for the electronic industry which serves it.

Meanwhile, of course, the work in electronic systems cannot wait for the findings of the Winter Study Group. Work on them—the so-called “L” systems—proceeds apace. C2D2, at this writing, is in the process of seeking ARDC and Air Force approval of its organization chart, but it should be approved, staffed, and in operation within a month or two.

Electronic Systems Center is firm as to organi­zation and manning, with twelve ESPOs (Elec­tronic Systems Program Office) for each of the systems currently within its jurisdiction. These are organized into three major directorates—Command and Control Communications, Intelli­gence and Warning, and Weapons Control. Total manning for the Center is 136 officers, five air­men, and 370 civilians.