The Command and Control Reality Show
Raytheon’s Envisioneering Center places customers into realistic threat scenarios
For the command and control team, it was show time.
Dave Tomlinson watched his visitors settle in and train their eyes on the humming array of large LCD screens. They were senior military officials, intent on modernizing their Joint Operations Center — the situation room where all the information comes together and decisions are made when there is an emerging national threat.
“In this room, seeing is believing,” said Tomlinson. “And they were about to see their world.”
For the next 90 minutes, Tomlinson and the Envisioneering Center team transported their visitors into a simulated warfighting environment. Multiple ships, aircraft and ground forces moved across a coastal landscape.
Behind the scenes of this first-of-its-kind demo were technology experts and software systems from across Raytheon. The view of ground assets came from a Tactical Operations Center in Indiana. A Maritime Surveillance system in Texas tracked the ship activity. An Air Operations Center program in Massachusetts showed aircraft movements. And yet another system in Virginia showed real-time cyber defenses. All the systems together built a common operational picture for the Envisioneering Center viewers — a picture that could increase the speed of command decisions.
“This is a unique environment,” said Greg Mikkelsen, project lead for the Envisioneering Center team. “The customers see a simulation of their worst security threats, and the systems and resources that can help them control and neutralize those threats. We show them the larger operational picture from real systems running remotely in distant Raytheon locations, just as they would be used in the customer’s world.”
The Envisioneering Center’s secret weapon is its ability to tailor war-gaming scenarios from a menu of 25 integrated Raytheon systems.
“We can show everything from a full Joint Operations Center to specific air, land, maritime or cyber-focused scenarios,” said Chuck Taylor, business development manager for Raytheon’s Command and Control systems and a retired brigadier general with combat experience. “The EC proves how a fully integrated system can support the commander and staff to plan while executing operations — to see and act first by outthinking the threat.”
For Tomlinson, a software developer turned visualization expert, it’s all about integration and collaboration. The challenge is showing how software systems at the nerve center of a country’s defense infrastructure can share data up and down command levels or across coalition forces.
“By definition, command and control systems are highly secure, with multiple firewalls and security protocols,” said Tomlinson. “At the same time, they need to share reconnaissance and tactical information throughout a country’s defense forces, for coordinated decision making. Here in the EC, we can show the interaction between systems from the Strategic Operations Center level all the way down to the edge, with data flowing over handheld tactical radios or other mobile devices.”
Before joining Raytheon, Tomlinson earned his software credentials developing air traffic control simulations and human machine interfaces. Now he’s part of the team that builds reusable integrations into Raytheon’s diverse command, control, communication, computers, cyber and intelligence product portfolio. The Raytheon systems range from satellite surveillance and reconnaissance and centralized-to-mobile Command View Mission Solutions, to cyber threat detection and software for social media analytics.
Visitors to the Envisioneering Center see for themselves the power of real-time connections and effective collaboration between assets in command, control, communication, computers, cyber and intelligence.
“We don’t just talk about command and control from a technical standpoint,” said Taylor. “The customer has to experience it.”
For the Envisioneering Center team, it all comes down to immersing the customer in an environment that works like the real world does.
“Customers aren't coming here to see PowerPoint,” says Tomlinson. “We put them into the action.”