FAS | Space | Military | Doc/Ops | Ops | Desert Star |||| Index | Search | Join

ds_logo.gif - 8.5 K


A - Overview

Lt. Gen. James Cassity, Joint Staff Directorate for C3 Systems, noted that "From day one, satellite communications have been our bread and butter. From first deployment through today, military and commercial satellite communications systems have been vital in providing essential command and control. With time, additional tactical ground C3 systems have been added, and a very mature tactical theater network has evolved. In 90 days, we established more military communications connectivity to the Persian Gulf than we have in Europe after 40 years."(1)

B - Space Segment

Desert Shield forces used a FLTSATCOM and a LEASAT, and two DSCS satellites on station over the Indian Ocean.(2) In addition, FLTSATCOM satellites over the Atlantic, and DSCS satellites over the Eastern Atlantic, were also used to communicate between CENTCOM and headquarters in the United States.(3)

Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS)

The Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS), is used by all four military services, as well as a variety of governmental agencies. With a nominal orbital constellation of five operational and two spare satellites(4) five or six satellites of the DSCS II series remain in service since being launched in the late 1970's, and three of the more capable and survivable DSCS III spacecraft, launched in the early 1980's are also operational. The planned launch on a Titan 34D of a fourth DSCS III and the last DSCS II was delayed from mid-1988 to 4 September 1989 to accommodate the 10 May launch of a Chalet to compensate for the 1988 Chalet launch which suffered an upper stage failure.

With an older NATO 3 satellite (similar in design to the DSCS II) having been recalled to service in 1987 to make up for launch delays caused by the April 1986 Titan 34D launch failure, the DSCS constellation is in need of replenishment, although this need is probably not immediately critical.

NATO 3-A4/22/76?
NATO 3-C11/19/78
NATO 3-D11/14/84
DSCS II- 8DSCS 94385/12/77?
DSCS II-11DSCS 944112/13/78
DSCS II-12DSCS 941212/13/78
DSCS II-13DSCS 944311/21/79
DSCS II-14DSCS 944411/21/79
DSCS II-15DSCS 944510/30/82
DSCS II-16DSCS A-16 USA-439/04/89
DSCS III-A 1DSCS A-110/30/82
DSCS III-B 4DSCS B-410/03/85
DSCS III-B 5DSCS B-510/03/85
DSCS III-A 2DFS-2 USA-449/04/89

Navy - Gapfiller, FLTSATCOM & LEASAT

The Navy is the single largest user of military communications satellites. So-called Gapfiller transponders on three Marisat satellites launched in 1976 continue to be leased from the COMSAT Corporation, although these are now relegated to a backup role.

The first three Fleet Satellite Communications (FLTSATCOM) satellites, launched in 1978, 1979 and 1980 are also on backup status, with FLTSATCOM 4 and FLTSATCOM 6, launched in 1980 and 1986 respectively, fully operational. FLTSATCOM 5 was lost in an 26 February 1987 launch vehicle accident, and FLTSATCOM 7 (the last of the series) was be launched on 22 September 1989.(5)

The Navy's other major system is the Leased Satellite (LEASAT) system, which consists of three Syncom IV spacecraft leased from Hughes, which is also the satellites manufacturer. The final launch of the LEASAT program occurred in early 1990 on the Space Shuttle.

Gapfiller 1(on Marisat 1)2/19/76
Gapfiller 2(on Marisat 2)6/10/76
Gapfiller 3(on Marisat 3)10/14/76
FLTSATCOM 12/09/78?
FLTSATCOM 25/04/79
FLTSATCOM 31/18/80
FLTSATCOM 410/31/80
FLTSATCOM 6F-712/04/86
FLTSATCOM 8F-89/25/89
Leasat 1Syncom IV F-28/30/84
Leasat 2Syncom IV F-111/08/84
Leasat 3Syncom IV F-34/12/85
Leasat 5Syncom IV F-51/ /90

One analysis of CENTCOM connectivity prior to the crisis highlighted the importance of these systems, noting that "Ultra high frequency tactical satellite (UHF TACSAT) voice communications is one of the primary means for real-time C2. The distance from Central Command headquarters to the Persian Gulf and the positions of available satellites prevented a direct, ground-to-ground transmission path. Therefore, multiple or M-Hop ground relays were employed... To simplify the system, Central Command, working with the Defense Communications Agency, and the Joint Tactical C3 Agency, engineered and installed a remote-keyed tactical satellite net. This permits UHF TACSAT radios in the Persian Gulf to be keyed from Central Command headquarters, through the worldwide DCS and DSC-A links established in 1987..."(6)


The exception to that is that there two MAC sats, small satellites launched in the first Pegasus launch that had been used by the Marine Corp to do stored up relay for logistics information. Two of those were launched, one of them apparently the antenna did not deploy properly so it's not functioning.(7) The other of the MAC sats is being used by some Marine Corp logistics element in Saudi Arabia to relay logistics data.

Data Relay - Satellite Data System & TDRSS

In addition to the previously discussed systems, which are all for communications between terrestrial forces, satellite systems also support near-real time communications between low altitude intelligence satellites and ground control stations.

The Satellite Data System (SDS) is another, frequently overlooked, military communications network. Unlike the previously discussed systems, which all operated in the geostationary arc, the two SDS satellites are in highly elliptical semi-synchronous Molniya-type orbits, optimized for coverage of the North polar region. Their primary mission is relaying in real time imagery data from KH-11 photographic intelligence satellites, while they are over the Soviet Union, to processing stations in the United States. At the outset of 1990, SDS F-5 and F-5A, launched in 1983 and 1984 respectively, were in service.

NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS), which plays a major though generally unappreciated role in supporting near-real time data transmission from low altitude reconnaissance satellites such as the Lacrosse.(8) It is possible that the KH-12 are also using TDRSS, but there's no public indication to this effect, whereas there are published statements to the effect that Lacrosse is using TDRSS.

SDS F-57/31/83
SDS F-5A8/28/84
TDRSS A 14/04/83
TDRSS C 29/29/88
TDRSS D 33/13/89

Figure 38 - SDS and TDRSS Data Relay Architecture

C - Control Segment

Management of the DSCS network is conducted by the Defense Communications Agency Operations Center (DCAOC), which supervises the DSCS Operations Centers (DSCSOCs). Each DSCOS performs realtime operational control of satellites in a particular geographical area.(9) The Army Space Command assumed operational control of all DSCS Operation Centers on 1 October 1990, including responsibility for scheduling use of the system for all service users in the Desert Storm theater. According to Colonel Ronan Ellis, head of Army Space Command, "we ensure that the networks they set up and the frequencies they talk on are correct and non-interfering."(10)

"To coordinate Desert Shield networks with other DSCS missions, Army Space Command relies on its European regional space support center. Located outside Stuttgart, West Germany, the center is collocated with a Defense Communications Agency Operations Center. Using guidelines set by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the two centers balance Desert Shield channel requests against the requirements of strategic, diplomatic and intelligence users.... DSCS coverage in the Indian Ocean basin is controlled from a center in Landstuhl, West Germany. The East Atlantic DSCS is controlled from a similar center at Fort Meade, MD... To control ground terminal networks, the Army Space Command also operates transportable AB/MSQ-114 units. These semi-trailer van centers can provide real-time monitoring and control for up to 50 SHF communications terminals."(11)

D - User Segment

By early September, "the number of US satellite terminals in Saudi Arabia jumped from one to more than 40. Most of these terminals provided trunk service for local networks on 60 voice and five data switches. In addition to voice traffic, these satellite terminals help transfer information between more than 10,000 personal computers.... the Middle Eastern DCS network was running at 99.2% efficiency."(12)

The Air Force relies on the DSCS system, relayed through AN/TSC-94 and AN/TSC-100 terminals, to maintain connectivity between the Tactical Air Control Center, and Direct Air Support and Control and Reporting Centers.(13) Each AN/TSC-100 hub can connect with up to four truck-mounted AN/TSC-94 terminals.(14) The Air Force 52nd Combat Communications Squadron (from Robins AFB, GA) provided terrestrial High Frequency and satellite communications support for the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing, as well as other military units. The Squadron's satellite van was transported, along with its HF gear, on a single airlift flight in August 1990.(15)

Army satellite communications links include the AN/TSC-85 terminal at Corps level, which is linked to the Division level's AN/TSC-93. The Division AN/TSC-85 is in turn linked to Brigade level AN/TSC-93 terminals.(16) Lower echelons may use the Motorola AN/URC-101 and AN/URC-110 manpack terminals.(17) Col. Jackson Moss, Army XVIII Airborne Corps Deputy Chief of Staff, notes that airborne forces carried these 45 kg UHF satellite terminals. "Within five minutes of hitting ground and undoing that parachute, he can have communications established back anywhere he needs. Because of the long range that we operate from, we in the XVIII Airborne Corps prefer to establish an umbilical cord of command and control, from our forward deployed areas back to our home base."(18)

Marine Air Ground Task Force communications links are provided by AN/TSC-85 and AN/TSC-93 Ground Mobile Force (GMF) satellite links, in addition to TRC-170 super-high frequency troposcatter radio sets.(19) The Marine Corps established two data centers in Saudi Arabia, each equipped with IBM 9370 Model 90 mainframe computers, which were connected via satellite to data centers in California, Georgia, Hawaii, Missouri, North Carolina, Virginia, and Okinawa.(20) The data centers ins Saudi Arabia are connected via satellite, landline and high-frequency radio to 20 Local Area Networks (LANs), to relay tactical orders, logistics and supply information, and intelligence report. As many as 300 8-foot diameter trailer-carried front line antennae were available to the Marine Corps. These antenna can be unfurled for operations in 12 minutes.(21) And Special forces used LST-5B, HST-4 and PSC-3 terminals for UHF communications.(22)

A primary means for analyzing communications satellite activity, as well as mapping the use of other satellite services, is through an order of battle for the forces in the region. The next several pages contain a preliminary effort along those lines.

Figure 39 - DSCS Network Architecture

Figure 40 - Marine Corps Communications Architecture

Table 5 - Air Force Order of Battle

Table 6 - Army Order of Battle

Table 7 - Navy Order of Battle

E - Operational Applications

According to Colonel Ronan Ellis, head of Army Space Command, DSCS has important tactical communications contribution, since the Army lacks a pre-existing communications infrastructure in the region.(23) Under the Defense Communications Agency, during "the buildup of Operation Desert Shield, many Ground Mobile Force terminals were deployed in the Persian Gulf region and were accessed to the network to establish needed command and control links... (DCA) supported Desert Shield with operational planning and deployment, military unit monitoring and status, logistics information, transportation requirements simulations and staff augmentation with hands-on ADP support."(24)

Components of the Marine Corps 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW), used portable ground terminals to provide connnectivity with one of the two MACSATS launched on 9 May 1990. This UHF system provided 1.2 megabytes (over 550 pages) of store-and-forward mailbox message relay for vital (though low-priority) logistics requests such as aircraft spare parts and supplies.(25) Planned users included the 2nd MAW headquarters at Cherry Point, NC and Naval Station Rota, Spain, the Marine Aircraft Group 40 and the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade on the USS Nassau (LHA-4) in the Persian Gulf, and a 2nd MAW detachment on the ground in the Gulf region. The Rota location was deactivated following the initial phases of Desert Shield, and the USS Nassau unit never activated.(26) The satellite makes two passes at an interval of 90 minutes every twelve hours, resulting in message delays of either a few minutes, or half a day.

One of the major Air Force communications priorities was daily dissemination of the Air Tasking Order. According to Lt. Gen. Jimmy Adams, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, the Air Force concept of operations was "to have a single air component commander. I think the mechanics of trying to make it happen, the difficulty, is just getting the communications capability in place so all our forces, as well as the allies and the sister services, have similar capabilities. So just to try to put the (communications) terminal in that delivers this very large and comprehensive Air Tasking Order... was a chore... It is a complex process but when you put 2,000 airplanes in the air today you have to provide tanker support, jamming support and lethal SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defense)... You have to deconflict the entry and exit points and build the rules of engagement so that people know when people are coming through air corridors. You have to deconflict the use of radio frequencies so they are not stepping over each other."(27) But, according to Air Force Electronic Systems Division Commander Lt. Gen. Gordon Fornell, "new equipment within the Tactical Air Control Center now disseminates the ATO to all the coalition forces, faster and to more locations than at any time in history.... (in addition) the first two ABCCC (Airborne Battlefield Command and Control Center) capsules were successfully deployed to Saudi Arabia in December. Each capsule is designed to slide aboard an EC-130E and contains 15 computer consoles for the battlestaff and other personnel who fine-tune the ATO by redirecting aircraft with unused ordnance or calling for additional strikes on a target that was not sufficiently hit."(28) The AWACS "could also link with satellites and transmit radar images of a Middle East air war back to the Pentagon command center."(29)

Resistance forces in Kuwait "were sending and receiving faxes on battle plans and intelligence every day" to Coalition commanders, using a "satellite dish... hidden under laundry strung across a balcony.... Cables ran inside the villa to a facsimile machine and phone."(30)

F - Operational Limitations

In the initial phases of Desert Shield in early August, the demand for satellite communications outstripped available resources. Air Force Brig. Gen. William Jones, Air Force Space Command Deputy Chief of Staff for Requirements, noted that "we found ourselves in a very tenuous position in the early days, until we could get the constellations optimized."(31) "The wide distances between combat units in the desert has forces CEWI (Combat Electronic Warfare and Intelligence) units to buy a variety of readily available high-frequency radios for long-range communications... Communications satellites are operating at maximum capacity, and CEWI units' existing very-high frequency radios cannot provide reliable communications when the CEWI vehicles are dispersed among the three brigades in each division."(32)

According to John Davis, Navy Space and Electronic Warfare Branch Chief Scientist, operations were "rapidly exhausting the capacity we have" in FLTSATCOM UHF satellites.(33) One corrective measure included deployment of additional EHF ground segment, to make greater use of FLTSATCOM EHF transponders. According to Davis, "We are trying like hell, going to general quarters, to get extremely high frequency out there. We are trying to scrape together the (MILSTAR) research and development models and do an acceptable installation." Another initiative was installation of SHF DSCS terminals borrowed from the other services to supplement the small number of Navy WSC-6 terminals. David noted that "we are going in search of super high frequency terminals for Army and Air Force use that are currently waiting for installation." Consideration was also given to using additional NATO or DSCS satellites.

Air Force Space Systems Division commander Lt. Gen. Donald Cromer noted that existing satellite systems lack capacity to accommodate lower level commanders, and that ground segment equipment is too large and expensive to permit use below the Brigade level. He noted that for Army communications below Brigade, High-Frequency radio systems are "unreliable for beyond-line-of-sight connectivity, and they broadcast omni-directional, thus easily telling the enemy the transmitter location."(34)

Military Communications Center (MCC) Inc. worked to establish mobile INTELSAT ground stations to provide telephone links to permit troops in the theater to call home to their families. "But interference and frequent signal jamming by the Iraqis caused MCC to have trouble locking on to a clear signal. 'Finally, one of our engineers found some old chain-link fence in a nearby dump, set it up around the dish, and we got a clear signal. That worked at all three sites'" according to MCC project director Jerry McAndrews.(35) Jamming and interference may also have been a problem for military satellite systems, with an Army report noting "needs for improvement in... anti-jam capability for tactical satellite communications."(36) However, Lt. Gen. Gordon Fornell, commander of Air Force Electronic Systems Division, stated that while "we must not get overconfident that all these communications and data capabilities will always be there -- satellite nodes are easily jammed. We were able to operate in a jam-free environment this time because Iraq had no jamming capability."(37)

Dust and sand have created problems with satellite ground equipment in the theater. Cooling air intakes on a satellite communications van were low to the ground, and a tent was erected around the van to reduce the amount of sand trapped in air intake filters.(38) Other problems included "some cases of self-jamming, and you almost always do in a big operation. One of the features we've found in operating in a desert environment like that where there's not a lot of cities and infrastructure is that a lot of the communications tend to be satellite, even though the distances between parties may not be great. There is so much competition for resources there have been examples of unintended interference."(39)

G - Alternative Systems

American forces used a variety of non-military satellite systems. Members of the Marine Corps Joint Combat Camera Section used at TCS-9200 Lite Inmarsat system during the Imminent Thunder amphibious assault exercise.(40) The Pentagon also ordered dozens of Inmarsat-compatible Satellite Phones (a 30 kg unit which fit in a single suitcase) from Mobile Telesystems at $52,000 apiece.(41) In addition to larger systems, small portable units, such as a portable Motorola LST-5C terminal with a Trivec antenna were used to provide direct communications support to commanders, including CENTCOM commander General Norman Schwarzkopf.(42)

According to Ronald Elliot, Technical Director of the DoD Intelligence Communications Architecture Project, a "significant application of modern telecommunications techniques is that of connecting international commercial satellite services to the operation. The Defense Communications Agency arranged for the unusually rapid deployment of leased mobile satellite terminals to connect (via INTELSAT) the deployed U.S. Central Command headquarters in Saudi Arabia to critical computer and communications systems at permanent headquarters facilities in Florida."(43) The Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) also used INTELSAT. AFRTS "installed four large INTELSAT TVRO -- TV Receive Only -- dishes in Saudi Arabia since last August to complement three dishes previously installed to support the US training mission in that country... The primary AFRTS feed to the Middle East is carried on a satellite originally used to provide coverage of Europe. But because Saudi Arabia is at the edge of this satellite footprint, AFRTS must use fairly large downlink receivers -- running seven meters in size -- to pick up the signal..."(44)

In addition to satellite systems, it was reported that "many American military commanders at remote desert camps have been provided with secure cellular phones in their vehicles. In a ground war, the phones are expected to be an essential method of communications. And these are not just any cellular phones. They are equipped with a variety of special features, including conference calling, call forwarding, and the ability to connect to fax machines. Generals and colonels have been given the authority to use the phones to dial direct to the United States from their vehicles. Lower-ranking officers can call overseas, but they must go through an operator first." (45) "Additional communications support was provided by the local Saudi telephone system.(46) Use of these channels was facilitated by the use of hundreds of National Security Agency Secure Telephone Units (STU-111), which permitted voice, data and imagery transmission.(47)

Each echelon within the Army uses specific terrestrial radio communications systems.(48) "The war with Iraq hit the Army in the midst of a complete overhaul of its communication and command and control networks. New radios, phone networks and battlefield computers all were in the Pentagon pipeline" when the war started.(49) A bewildering variety of different systems are currently in use, with various upgrades currently in progress, so the following listing is illustrative rather than definitive.

Squad leaders use the PRC-126 (Portable Radio Communicator), a 5 kg cigar-box sized frequency modulated half-duplex radio. This digital system offers improved jam resistance, and while it is not normally scrambled, it is plug-compatible with an modular encryption unit.

Platoon commanders use the SINCGARS (Single Channel Ground-to-Air Radio System), a cigar-box size unit that uses UHF spread-spectrum to reduce vulnerability to jamming or interception (the spread-spectrum frequency and time synchronization pattern is changed daily). SINCGARS is currently replacing the existing AN/VRC-12 and AN/VRC-43-49 series vehicle-mounted radio systems, which remains in service with many units. Encryption is provided by the VINCENT (Voice Encryption Terminal).

Company commanders also use SINCGARS and AN/VRC-12 and AN/VRC-43-49 series radio systems, as well as the AN/TTC-39A and AN/MSC-32 elements of TRITAC (Tri-Service Tactical Communications).

Battalion commanders use the AN/MSC-32 (MOD) Communications System Control Elements (CSCE) of TRITAC (Tri-Service Tactical Communications).

Brigade commanders also use the AN/MSC-32 (MOD) Communications System Control Elements (CSCE) of TRITAC (Tri-Service Tactical Communications), as well as the MSE (Mobile Subscriber Equipment), a cellular communications component of TRITAC capable of transmitting voice, data and facsimile messages. The MSE network can cover an area of up to 37,500 square kilometers,(50) about one quarter the total 125,000 square kilometer Desert Shield deployment area, and interfaces with lower level SINCGARS through the VINSON system.

Division commanders also use MSE and other TRITAC equipment.

Corps commanders also use MSE and other TRITAC equipment.

Echelon above Corps commanders use MSE and other TRITAC elements. "The Central Area DCS includes three major and nine minor nodes. Nodes are linked to forces over terrestrial Tri-Service Tactical Communications (TRITAC) links... The smaller nodes connect to the major hubs over satellite and high frequency radio links."(51) Army and Marine Corps communications networks use AN/TRC-170 Super-High Frequency (SHF) troposcatter radio sets as the primary means of communications at ranges of over 150 kilometers for upper echelon elements, supplemented by DSCS GMF terminals.(52)

The Defense Communications Agency's (DCA) Defense Communications System Organization (DCSO) provided in-theater support to Operation Desert Shield. "The Defense Communications System - Central Area (DCS-CA) is a transportable, nodally configured communications system capable of extending DCS service into the 19 countries of the USCENTCOM area of responsibility. The DCS-CA runs the gamut of modern communications and information systems. It consists of satellite earth terminals, terrestrial microwave/tropospheric scatter and high frequency radio equipment, voice and message switch networks, system control elements, message facilities and secure voice systems, all of which support contingency and wartime operations. This complex network provides intertheater strategic connectivity of the National Command Authority, Joint Chiefs of Staff and other DoD activities to CENTCOM forces, and intratheater telephone and data services for deployed elements."(53)

H - Iraqi Capabilities

In contrast to American forces, which made extensive use of satellite communications, Iraqi communications were limited to land-lines and terrestrial radio systems. "Iraqi television was cut off from ARABSAT, the communications satellite owned by a consortium of Arab countries, after its earth station was hit in a bombing raid."(54) Iraq had three INTELSAT communications uplink antenna at Dujail, near Badgdad, which were destroyed in the first days of the air campaign in January.(55) This eliminated satellite television broadcasts from Iraq for several weeks, until Western news organizations could bring in portable terminals.

The Iraqi military had "highly centralized command and control, with virtually all major moves ordered from the top. Unlike American practice, the Iraqi structure permits little flexibility and initiative at lower levels. As communications with the battlefield become ever more disrupted, the defects of such an organization will become more apparent."(56)

The initial results of the coalition air campaign had relatively little impact on Iraqi communications capabilities. "With key military headquarters buried deep underground, Iraqi troops have swiftly replaced lost or damaged communications antennas with spare satellite dishes, pointed horizontally to provide new direct, high-frequency radio links."(57) As a result, "Saddam has been able to maintain communication with his forces through a sophisticated network of command posts, some of them mobile, that use remotely placed antennas located far from his physical location so he cannot be pinpointed. 'It turns out he has one of the most robust and redundant and modern communications systems in the world,'" according to one government official.(58)

But by early February, it was reported that the allies "believe that they have already so severely disrupted Iraqi communications that it takes nearly 24 hours for Saddam Hussein to get a message to the front by reasonable secure means... 'They have backup networks we haven't been able to destroy,' one officer said, 'but they're pretty primitive. So they have two choices: Either they take the chance that we'll monitor their traffic, or they use safer but very slow methods to get the word from Baghdad to their people in the field. Once the land battle starts, that won't be nearly good enough."(59)

Army Lt. Gen. Thomas Kelly noted that, despite allied attacks on Iraqi communications, "Saddam Hussein still has the capability to influence what's going on in the campaign, as long as the military continues to listen to his instructions. You could do that with a guy on a motorcycle coming down the road in the hours of darkness. He still has some ability to do command and control. We're not precisely sure what that is. We know his tactical commanders in the field have some capability, but it's becoming more difficult for them every day..."(60)

"US Special Forces Troops carried out direct action covert operations against the most important communications links between Baghdad and Iraqi forces in the Kuwaiti theater of operations... The destruction of special underground communications cables by the commandos was considered one of the most important and least publicized missions... The Iraqi high command relied heavily on its network of land lines from Baghdad for secure communications with Basra and Kuwait. Radio messages are easily intercepted. It was the special forces' job to locate and destroy them with their own explosives, or to call in allied bombers to do the job..."(61)

Coalition attacks on Iraqi communications were invoked to explain the absence to terrorist attacks around the world. Starting on 4 February, Baghdad Radio "began carrying what it called 'special messages,' which appeared to be coded calls for listeners outside Iraq to take unspecified actions... various commentators )speculated) that the cryptic messages were calls to terrorists. The radio broadcast... began 'Call, call from Hammad to Qutaybah: Implement all that is on the table and outside it.' The announcer later said: 'From the headquarters to 'Urwah: Implement the 'last meeting program.'' Another message said: Call, call from Mahyub to Ayman: We are waiting to hear your voice and that of all the brothers. Do not hesitate. May God be with you.'"(62)

But the absence of responses suggested that "... Saddam Hussein (had) lost control of his terror network. The air war severely damaged Baghdad's military communications system -- which may have been used to coordinate terror attacks. When he re-established communications, US officials say, Iraqi-linked groups may have refused Saddam's calls, sensing that he was a loser."(63)

Disruption of communications may have also played a role in the Iraqi failure to use chemical weapons. "US intelligence analysts never had solid evidence that Saddam Hussein had given his field commanders at the Corps or Division level permission to use chemicals, and Army general said today. 'So they kept tight, centralized control of it, and then found out that it was too little, to late, if and when they decided to use it,' another military sources added."(64)

By the time of the initiation of the ground campaign, "Iraqi communications were so poor that during (the) huge battle some Iraqi troops were caught while they were taking cigarette breaks... (and later) in case some Iraqi troops, with their communications disrupted, had not heard about the ceasefire, the Allies broadcast in Arabic through loudspeakers..."(65)

One analysis noted that "the virtues of confusing and hindering enemy communications were illustrated yesterday (25 February) morning in the Iraq Kuwait border region where the bulk of Iraq's Republican Guard forces were deployed. When at least one of the divisions attempted to move south and west to reinforce second-echelon Iraqi mechanized units under direct assault, it did so in piecemeal fashion and exposed itself to withering US aircraft and tank fire... battalion-sized units of the Guard could not communicate well enough to synchronize their movements for protection from assault."(66)

According to Brig. Gen. Richard Neal, disruption of Iraqi communications "at the tactical level had significant implications. By the tactical level I'm talking down at the company, battalion, and maybe at the brigade level -- down there where the guys were actually doing the maneuvering and the fighting. I think what we saw in many instances, is that they were uncoordinated attacks. In fact, the left didn't know what the right was doing, nor the center. I think that, probably more than anything, contributed to the disarray, and sometimes to confusion where you had tanks coming at US forces, and other tanks going the wrong way. We found a lot of tanks with the shot to the rear of the tank -- in other words, it entered the rear because these folks were just so confused and disorganized."(67)

I - Net Assessment

Thomas P. Quinn, Principle Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for C3I, concluded that "the satcom systems were tremendous in tying together the entire operation across the entire spectrum... Commanders can now exchange information in a way they never could before. Everyone in informed rapidly, and everyone is using the same data base so the chances for confusion over the battlefield area are minimized."(68)

David Signore, DCA Associate Director for Technology and Engineering, observed that 90 percent of the communications between the Gulf and the United States were going via satellite, and that commercial telecommunications companies were carrying about half of the telecommunications traffic.(69) Martin Faga, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space noted that, in addition to navigation, "the other area of extensive contribution is communications... satellite communications use is very, very heavy in the area, partly because... there are not land lines connecting many points, even though they might be only 50 miles apart."(70)

One analysis of lessons learned from the war noted that "Communications and logistics were both triumphs of US planning and ingenuity. US commanders knew almost everything about the enemy; the enemy knew almost nothing about the alliance... persistent bombing and jamming so blinded the Iraqis that Saddam Hussein was eventually reduced to using couriers to communicate with some of his field commanders."(71) Central Command Deputy Director of Operations Marine Brig. Gen Richard Neal concluded that the destruction of Iraq's communications network caused "disarray and confusion" for Iraqi ground forces.(72)

However, according to Air Force Space Systems Division commander Lt. Gen. Donald Cromer, "we need to do more for the tactical commander" since it is "most often tactical, intra-theater communicators" who are denied access to satellite systems by higher priority inter-theater and national users. One possible solution would be a new dedicated intra-theater communications satellite, with a pair of DSCS-type transponders, one for Ground Mobile Forces (GMF) at Brigade and above, and the other for communications below Brigade. This later application would require a new "jeepback or manpack" size terminals, with antenna about 1 meter in diameter. If the system is implemented in SHF (as with DSCS), each satellite could support 1,000 simultaneous 2.4 KBPS voice links, while an EHF system would support between 330 and 560 terminals, with "a high level of anti-jam performance, while also providing low probability of detection or interception by the enemy."(73)

1. Cassity, James, "Operation Desert Storm -- The J-6 Perspective," AFCEA News, February 1991, page 2.

2. Kiernan, Vincent, "War Tests Satellites Prowess," Space News, 21 January 1991, page 1, 36.

3. "Satcom Gears Up For Desert Shield," Military Space, 24 September 1990, page 3.

4. "Department of Defense Authorization for Appropriations for Fiscal Years 1990 and 1991," Senate Armed Services Committee, 101st Congress 1st Session, part 6, page 141.

5. "Last FLTSATCOM Satellite Planned For Launch September 22," Aerospace Daily, 15 September 1989, page 466.

6. Radford, James, "C3 Challenges in US Central Command," Signal, December 1989, page 49-53.

7. "Lightsat Builder Views Market," Military Space, 11 March 1991, page 3-4.

8. Charles, Dan, "Spy Satellites: Entering a New Era," Science, 24 March 1989, pages 1541-1543.

9. Finney, Albert, "Tactical Uses of the DSCS III Communications System," in Tactical Applications of Space Systems - 16-19 October 1989, NATO Advisory Group for Aerospace Research (AGARD) Conference Proceeding #460, NTIS N90-27438.

10. "Army Space Command Demo Efforts Go Operational in Desert Shield," Aerospace Daily, 20 November 1990, page 305-306.

11. "Satcom Gears Up for Desert Shield," Military Space, 24 September 1990, page 3-5.

12. "Satcom Gears Up for Desert Shield," Military Space, 24 September 1990, page 3-5.

13. Finney, Albert, "Tactical Uses of the DSCS III Communications System," Tactical Applications of Space Systems, NATO Advisory Group for Aerospace Research and Development (AGARD), Conference Proceedings AGARD CP-460, October 1989, NTIS N90-27438.

14. "Satcom Gears Up for Desert Shield," Military Space, 24 September 1990, page 3-5.

15. "US Forces Use Satellite Links," Aviation Week & Space Technology, 7 September 1990, page 113.

16. Finney, Albert, "Tactical Uses of the DSCS III Communications System," Tactical Applications of Space Systems, NATO Advisory Group for Aerospace Research and Development (AGARD), Conference Proceedings AGARD CP-460, October 1989, NTIS N90-27438.

17. Jane's Military Communications 1987, (Jane's Publishing, New York, 1987) page 125-127.

18. Kiernan, Vincent, "Satellites Crucial In Countering Iraq," Space News, 13 August 1990, page 1, 20.

19. House of Representatives Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, Department of Defense Appropriations for 1991, 101st Congress, 2nd Session, Part 5, page 222-223.

20. Levine, Judith, "Networking for Desert Shield," Communications Week, 14 January 1991, page 18.

21. Auerbach, Stewart, "Wielding the Weapons For a New Kind of War," The Washington Post - Washington Business, 28 January 1991, page 1, 12.

22. Vannes, Clayton, "Desert One to Desert Storm," Booz Allen & Hamilton, 27 February 1991.

23. "Army Space Command Demo Efforts Go Operational in Desert Shield," Aerospace Daily, 20 November 1990, page 305-306.

24. Defense Communications Agency, The Defense Communications Agency FY90 Annual Report, (DCA, Washington DC, 1990), page 41.

25. Wagner, Gary, "Gulf Crisis is Proving Ground for Communications Lightsats," Space Tracks Bulletin, October 1990, page 4-5, 8.

26. "Desert Shield Sees R&D MACSATs in Limited Operational Use," Aerospace Daily, 16 November 1990, page 289.

27. Capaccio, Tony, "Single Air Maestro Was The Key To Bombing Orchestra Over Iraq," Defense Week, 11 February 1991, page 6-7.

28. "Joint Connectivity Demonstrated For First Time in Desert Storm," Defense Daily, 4 March 1991, page 325.

29. Moore, Molly, "Cat-and-Mouse in Gulf Sky," The Washington Post, 15 November 1990, page 1, A28.

30. Bale, Peter, "Resistance Used Satellite to Follow Allies' War Plan," The Detroit News, 3 March 1991, page 9A.

31. Kiernan, Vincent, "War Tests Satellites Prowess," Space News, 21 January 1991, page 1, 36.

32. Munro, Neil, "Enemy Silence Hampers Army Intelligence Efforts," Defense News, 25 February 1991.

33. Munro, Neil, "Industry Boosts DoD Gulf Communications," Defense News, 19 November 1990, page 1, 36.

34. "Crisis Shows Need For Better Tactical Satellite Communications," Aerospace Daily, 31 January 1991, page 174.

35. Kilette, Kathleen, "Satellites Key In Saudi Operation," Communications Week, 25 February 1991, page 24J.

36. US Army, "Army Weapons Systems Performance in Southwest Asia," mimeo, 13 March 1991.

37. Henderson, Bruce, "Desert Storm Success Pushes Military To Build Advanced High-Tech Systems," Aviation Week & Space Technology, 18 March 1991, page 169-173.

38. "US Forces Use Satellite Links," Aviation Week & Space Technology, 7 September 1990, page 113.

39. Faga, Martin, (Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space), Interview, 20 September 1990.

40. Space News, 21 January 1991, page 1.

41. Robichaux, Mark, "Desert Storm Demand Buffets Satellite-Phone Firm," The Wall Street Journal, 1 February 1991, page B2.

42. "US Forces Use Satellite Links," Aviation Week & Space Technology, 7 September 1990, page 113.

43. Elliot, Ronald, "C3I Warfare Moves Into New Era," Defense News, 7 January 1991, page 20.

44. Brewin, Bob, "GLobal Network Brings TV, Radio News to US Troops," Federal Computer Week, 25 February 1991, page 9.

45. Hedges, Chris, "Some Iraqi Units Seem to Quit Kuwaiti Front," The New York Times, 17 February 1991, page 19.

46. Munro, Neil, "Pentagon Turns to INTELSAT to Meet High Communications Demand in Gulf," Defense News, 1 October 1990, page 29.

47. Elliot, Ronald, "C3I Warfare Moves Into New Era," Defense News, 7 January 1991, page 20.

48. Mier, Edwin, "The Voice of Command," Network World, 28 January 1991, page 59-60.

49. Lynch, David, "Inefficient Equipment Might Make Troops Vulnerable," Orange County Register, 17 February 1991, business section.

50. Whiting, Richard, "Defense Electronics Wins Early Challenges," Electronic Business, 18 February 1991, page 44.

51. "Satcom Gears Up for Desert Shield," Military Space, 24 September 1990, page 3-5.

52. US House of Representatives Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, Department of Defense Appropriations For 1991, 101st Congress, 2nd Session, Part 5, pages 222-223.

53. Defense Communications Agency, The Defense Communications Agency FY90 Annual Report, (DCA, Washington DC, 1990), page 21.

54. Frankel, Glenn, "Iraq Battling Its Neighbors for Airwave Supremacy," The Washington Post, 26 January 1991, page A17.

55. "War Drives Up Demand for Satellite Communications, Remote Sensing," Satellite Week, 21 January 1991, page1, 2.

56. Toth, Robert, "Proxy War: US Facing Soviet Tactics, Weapons," The Los Angeles Times, 20 February 1991, page A5.

57. Smith, Jeffrey, "Iraq Engineers Quickly Repair Some Airfields," The Washington Post, 27 January 1991, page A21, A23.

58. Woodward, Bob, "Key Iraqi Assets Said to Survive 10-Day Air War," The Washington Post, 28 January 1991, page A1, A15.

59. Apple, R.W., "Raids Said to Badly Delay Baghdad Messages to Front," The New York Times, 11 February 1991, page A12.

60. Dod News Briefing, 15 February 1991, page 6.

61. Gertz, Bill, "Commandos Smashed Iraqi Communications Lines," The Washington Times, 6 March 1991, page A9.

62. Atkinson, Rick, "Bush Skeptical Air Power Alone Can Prevail in Gulf," The Washington Post, 6 February 1991, page A1, A20.

63. Howard, Lucy, "A Network Failure," Newsweek, 11 March 1991, page 6.

64. Atkinson, Rick, "No Chemical Arms Found On Battlefields," The Washington Post, 7 March 1991, page A1, A35.

65. Apple, R.W., "Iraqis Reduced to a Rabble, General Asserts," The New York Times, 1 March 1991, page A1, A10.

66. Smith, Jeffrey, "Air War Wrecked Iraqi Ability to Detect and React to Allies," The Washington Post, 27 February 1991, page 28.

67. CENTCOM News Briefing, 1 March 1991, page 7.

68. Henderson, Breck, "Desert Storm Success Pushes Military To Build Advanced High-Tech Systems," Aviation Week & Space Technology, 18 March 1991, page 169-173.

69. Munro, Neil, "Industry Boosts DoD Gulf Communications," Defense News, 19 November 1990, page 1, 36.

70. Faga, Martin, (Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space), Interview, 20 September 1990.

71. Pasztor, Andy, "As the Gulf War Begins Its March Into History, Analysts Praise Success but Study the Failures," The Wall Street Journal, 6 March 1991, page A10.

72. Gertz, Bill, "Commandos Smashed Iraqi Communications Lines," The Washington Times, 6 March 1991, page A9.

73. "Crisis Shows Need For Better Tactical Satellite Communications," Aerospace Daily, 31 January 1991, page 174.

FAS | Space | Military | Doc/Ops | Ops | Desert Star |||| Index | Search | Join

Implemented by Sara D. Berman
Maintained by Robert Sherman
Originally created by John Pike
Updated Monday, April 07, 1997