Support: Marines Create a Wired Headquarters


May 1, 2006: The U.S. Marine Corps has successfully tested a new Unit Operations Center (UOC). This is basically a headquarters that can be packed into several trucks or trailers, and set up in about 40 minutes. Before UOC was developed, it took three hours to set up a headquarters. Actually, UOC is a modular system that greatly simplifies the setting up of computer and communications systems. The many modules can be put together depending on how large a headquarters operations is required. This can range from a company size operation coming in to evacuate embassy personnel and other American citizens from a crises zone, to a multi-battalion combat operation.

Over the last decade, the marines have been adding more and more computer and high-tech communications equipment to their headquarters. Making this stuff work with existing systems made setting up a headquarters a nightmare. The UOC system went back to the beginning and put together gear that was known to work together. For UOC use, the equipment, most of it electronic, is pre-wired as much as possible, with very simple set-up instructions. As much as possible, the gear has been made user-friendly, and ruggedized for field use.

The headquarters these days uses computer networks, lots of flat screen displays and satellite links. This last feature allows a lot of "reach back" capability. That means many headquarters jobs can be performed by troops back in the United States, with the UOC "reaching back" via satellite link to communicate. Thus, rather than having some administrative functions performed by marines in a tent a few feet away from you, the troops are back in the United States, keeping the field headquarters even smaller and easier to move and set up.

The UOC is a key tool for the marines, who use extensive computer networking at all levels, and need headquarters that can make the most of this.

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