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CHAKA Command & Control Systems

CHAKA is a fully field deployable, scalable system that provides near real time situational awareness and messaging across a wide range of communications bearers including Combat Net Radio, Local Area Networks, Wide Area Networks, satellite and point­‐to­‐point serial links.

CHAKA can be interoperable with C2 systems utilized across the full range of C2 functionality and is vertically and horizontally integrated at the tactical and operational levels.

1.1. Complex operational environments require decisions to be made quickly and accurately. They also require the exchange of vital information within the coalition and joint battlespace.

1.2. This document will summarize and provide a general overview of the South African Chaka Command and Control Support System. CHAKA is a powerful and scalable Command and Control System (C2) system that offers accessible, easy-to-use yet comprehensive functionalities that can significantly increase operational flexibility and reduce deployment time. The Chaka Command and Control System were developed in South Africa.

2.1.  In light of the aforementioned, the CHAKA C2 system comprises of a system of systems specially equipped and provided with communication facilities, automated command and control systems, and other technical assets from which commanders and Headquarters staff execute command and control in the course of preparation and conduct of combat or other action. The main purpose of the CHAKA C2 system is to support the operational staffs in conventional and peacekeeping operations. The system can also be used in operations other than war (OOTW). In this regard, the proposed system supports a wide range of functionalities in both planning procedures and execution of operations.

2.2. The CHAKA C2 system is communications layer independent. Any specialist 3rd party can provide the communication layer.

2.3. CHAKA C2 system enhances the capabilities of the commander to get within the OODA (Observation, Orientation, Decision and Action) cycle of the opposing force according to applicable doctrine and command and control methodology and structures.

2.4. The CHAKA C2 system provides tools to support operational commanders in the optimal execution of joint command and control functions in terms of:

2.4.1. Situational Awareness,

2.4.2. Operational Planning on the Tactical & Operational Levels of War,

2.4.3. Tasking,

2.4.4. Control, and

2.4.5. Training.

2.5. The CHAKA C2 system supports interfaces based on a network-enabled approach with particular attention to joint operations and interoperability with the command and control functionality of other systems utilised in the joint integrated task force operational role.

2.6. The CHAKA C2 system highlights entail the following:

2.6.1. Blue Force Tracking,

2.6.2. Situational awareness and tactical reporting,

2.6.3. Easy and user-friendly deployment and maintenance,

2.6.4. Ready for both mounted and dismounted use,

2.6.5. Speeds up and supports the military decision-making process, and

2.6.6. Tactical communication over the radio and other communication networks

2.7. The CHAKA C2 system furthermore provides:

2.7.1. A common infrastructure that integrates and shares data and communications from various sources with failsafe system architecture.

2.7.2. The flexibility and scalability to adapt to mission circumstances and current/future operational needs.

2.7.3. Flexible role and user management combined with optimised human-machine interfaces, allowing individual users to gain a swift operational picture, make fast and correct decisions and share data and decisions as quickly as possible.

2.7.4. A tailored command and control system for all levels of command, from operational headquarters right down to individual soldiers.

2.7.5. A significant contribution to improving situational awareness and accelerating decision-making processes.

3.1. The on-going changes in the composition and structure of armies worldwide as well as the experience in wars and armed conflicts of the past two decades highlight the need for improved command and control capability. Without a stable, uninterrupted and efficient command and control both in wartime and in peacetime it is impossible to maintain the high combat and mobilization readiness of troops or to prepare them for the performance of missions assigned to them. It is only through effective command and control that opposing forces deployment can be pre-empted and aggression successfully repelled.

3.2. Analysis and military practice shows that the numerical and qualitative composition of command and control capabilities should be such as to ensure 24-hour a day operation of command and control elements in the course of preparation and conduct of combat action.

3.3. There is also a pressing need to resolve the problem of streamlining the command and control process both vertically and horizontally to expand the command and control capabilities of lower-level command and control structures. This is because the over-centralized command and control system, often based on unnecessary bottom-to-top coordination and reporting, increases the decision-making time while the fast-flowing situation on the ground can change substantially.

3.4. The functionality provided by CHAKA can be grouped into the following categories:

3.4.1. Management of multiple plans and orders including annexes and appendices.

3.4.2. Current situational awareness display and management.

3.4.3. Integrated Geographical Information System (GIS) with support for a large suite of tactical graphics, analysis tools and displays.

3.4.4. Lines of Operations Operational sequencing matrix.

3.4.5. Configuration and administration of the C2 system.

3.4.6. Military Resource Database.

3.4.7. Personnel & Logistical Information Management.

3.5. Chaka is a framework which has been developed in such a way that allows it to be extended and adapted to incorporate future required functionalities and customized features.

4.1   Chaka provides all the tools necessary for configuration and administration of the C2 system e.g. setting up new nodes, clients etc. Chaka architecture is independent of any force structure. The flow of data and information is based on a user-definable command network.

4.2   Chaka architecture makes provision for the same software (including data model) from Joint Task Force or Brigade level down to Section level. Different levels of functionality can be activated applicable to the level of operational command. Different levels of detail in the Situational Awareness Picture (SAP) views are available from Joint Task Force or Brigade level down to Section level, representing the C2 structure of a national defence force as well as the levels of command.

4.3   The Blue Force Tracking set-up is according to the prescribed channels of command with the track information only visible to the next higher command affiliation unless otherwise requested. As such the specific commander may request to be able to view the disposition of forces two levels down. The norm is always to plan two levels down and control one level down.

Figure 1 – Typical CHAKA Situational Awareness “Desktop View”

5.1   The CHAKA C2 system plans and orders module allows handling of as many plans as required from the staff. The module supports time planning and the full scope of the SANDF ordering system included all necessary or specific national required annexes and appendices even though those can be overlays or written text. Plans can be dynamically distributed, either in full or in part

Figure 2- Multiple Plans & Orders

6.1.   The current situation picture can be displayed with all pertinent information, or separated into functional areas as required. The CHAKA C2 system gives the user full control of what information is displayed on the screen at any one time. Positions of own forces can be plotted on a situational awareness map on a separate overlay by dragging-and-dropping force symbols from the ORBAT tree view. Positional updates are executed with similar mechanisms. Depending on the command network settings, these actions are automatically transmitted/received to/from the appropriate recipients/senders. Similar actions are available to be performed for example by the Intelligence staff compartment for unknown forces, neutral forces and Opposing Forces. Detail such as last update time, update mode (manual or via communication link) and a selection of force data can be obtained by interrogating force symbols.

6.2.   The CHAKA C2 system ORBAT tool utilizes a Military Resource Database, in which generic and specific information on weapon systems at the lowest level and aggregated forces at the highest level are maintained.

6.3.   Proforma signals can be created and transmitted to recipients as defined in the command network settings. These signals include free text signals, incident reports, air casualty evacuation requests, warning orders, movement orders, fragment orders, and various others. Signals are managed through various mailboxes including the failed box, outbox, inbox, sent box and draft box. User-configurable tools are provided to order/group the display of signals. Signals can be prepared in advance and buffered in the draft box, to be transmitted at an appropriate time. Signals not successfully delivered are buffered in the failed box to resend under user control.

6.4.   In contrast to signals, where the flow of information is user action controlled, a report in the immediate presentation of data is available from a local database in printable format. Various mechanisms are utilized by Chaka to automatically synchronize databases at each node to form a cyber-database from which reports can be generated.

6.5.   All user actions and all system updates are captured in a read-only war diary. Free text can also be added to the war diary. This allows for the consolidation of war diary logged information. This also provides the tools required to facilitate an after-action review from the war diary such as the animation of force movements.

Figure 3 – Example of CHAKA Tactical Situational Awareness Picture. A geo-referenced Landsat satellite image is shown as a GIS layer at a scale of 1:50 000. Separate GIS vector data layers (contours, roads, non-perennial water, and built-up areas) are shown. A command and control user overlay show route names and control points. A portion of a user OF COA overlay shows forces planned positions, movement indicators, forming up place, airstrike, defensive and planned defensive positions, the axis of attack and line of exploitation. Filtered overlays of actual force positions and installations are also shown.

7.1.   The GIS component of the CHAKA C2 system gives an advanced graphical representation of units, tactical graphics and other relevant features by using Military Standard 2525B symbols. An inherent Symbology Generator “SymGen” also provides the ability to create own unique symbols relevant to Operations Other Than War.

7.2.   In addition to providing a graphical display of the military or civilian objects, the GIS component also provides a wide range of displays on the screen and automatic switching between map scales when zooming in or out. Various geographical analysis tools are available. With the GIS Tool, an environment file is created by selecting a collection of static GIS data provided in the offline preparation mode, such as contours, rivers, roads, mobility etc. and user planning-overlays. User overlays are created with a drawing tool as part of the terrain to create command and control points, text, arrows, firing arcs, screening diagrams, ground Defense plans, track plan, zones (such as restricted, prohibited, approach, flight safe etc.), route information with report lines, deployment positions and other Mil-Std 2525 symbology.

7.3.   Incorporated in CHAKA is an Environment Editor which can be utilized to prepare a specific GIS environment utilizing Vector -, Raster – & DTE Data.

7.4.   The following formats we will be handled outside CHAKA in QGis or other open-source GIS tools where the data will be prepared in the correct format for CHAKA:

7.4.1.  ASRP – read with QGis via GDAL driver.

7.4.2.  USRP – read with QGis via GDAL driver.

7.4.3.  ADRG – read with QGis via GDAL driver.

7.4.4.  CADRG – read with QGis via GDAL driver.

7.4.5.  CIB – read with QGis via GDAL driver.

7.4.6.  MrSID – GDAL supports reading of MrSID image files using LizardTech’s decoding software development kit. This DSDK is not free software.

7.5.   The above are all raster formats and will have to be converted to GeoTIFF format, to be imported into CHAKA.

7.6.   To view WMS, WFS, WCS, WTS, ESRI, Bing Maps formats, CHAKA will utilize an integrated 3D GIS viewer (NagaGis).

7.7.   The main reason for the provision of an Environment Editor is to provide the end-user with functionality to prepare its GIS environment without having to spend a large amount of funds to acquire GIS licenses. Once the initial data has been acquired no further costs is incurred.

8.1   The CHAKA C2 system provides all the tools necessary for configuration and administration of the C2 system – for instance – setting up new nodes, clients etc. The CHAKA C2 system architecture is independent of any force structure. The flow of data and information is based on a user-definable command network. 

9.1   The CHAKA C2 system Lines of Operation tool (LoOP) allows the user to plan and sequence missions or operations and various contingencies. The Lines of Operation Tool provides a wizard to set up mission detail, mission categories, mission stages and D-day. It is possible to define the following with a comprehensive linked documentation facility:

9.1.1.  An end state,

9.1.2.  Intermediate End State(s),

9.1.3.  Decisive Points,

9.1.4.  Objectives,

9.1.5.  Centre of Gravity,

9.1.6.  Decision Points,

9.1.7.  Contingencies,

9.1.8.  Support lines and a Critical Path,

9.2.   Any object on the lines can also be assigned time information (e.g. duration in actual dates or relative to D-day), geographical position, and Force element linkage and movement information.

Figure 5 – Line of Operations Planning Tool

10.1   CHAKA support Personnel and Logistical staff on both high intensity and peace support operations. It is a system that can be utilized to support all Formations and Arms of Service. It provides a comprehensive solution to the Operational Personnel and Operational Logistical functional requirement that can incorporate many of the features of a Personnel system. It consists of a master database and numerous nodes.

11.1   The CHAKA C2 system has been developed in such a way that it can be integrated without an immense effort with other such systems in use with end-users.


12.2.   Chaka Software supports the following states and modes:

12.2.1.  Off state, in which (design dependent specific) data is retained,

12.2.2.  Initialization state, with user login functionality, network mode selection, start-state data configuration (import), and training or operational state database selection,

12.2.3.  Operational state, supporting the following interchangeable modes of operation: (Offline) Data Preparation Mode, Planning Mode, Mission Execution Mode, Review Mode, System Management and Maintenance Mode. Training state, supporting the same interchangeable modes of operation as specified above in the Operational state but utilizing a training database and not the operational database, Shutdown state, in which software is terminated in an orderly fashion, Restart state, in which software may be manually restarted or automatically restarted.

12.2.4. (Offline) Data Preparation mode comprises: GIS data preparation and loading, Logistical commodities data preparation and loading, Personnel data preparation and loading, Start-state data manipulation (export and import), Loading reference ORBAT.

12.2.5. Planning mode comprises: Time and map appreciation on prepared GIS data, making use of the Situational Awareness Picture (SAP) annotation and planning capabilities, Drafting and issuing of warning and other orders making use of command and control software tactical messaging facility, office applications and broadband e-mail facility, ORBAT planning/organisation, Planning of courses of action on prepared GIS data making use of the SAP annotation and planning capabilities, Lines of Operation (referred to as LoOP activity matrix), Data Network planning (planning the digital command network), Replication Rules planning to maintain an “in time” SAP and database (data model) synchronisation, Tactical and broadband data networks planning, Presentation of plans making use of office applications.

12.2.6. Mission Execution mode comprises the following “in time” command and control actions: Monitoring the tactical overview in terms of: SAP Terrain overview, Headquarters (HQ) Information board, Air Raid Warning State, Air Defence Readiness State and Weapon Control Orders, Data Network connectivity (tactical RF (HF/VHF) and broadband satellite data networks), Global Positioning System (GPS) connectivity, Tactical Messaging status. Maintaining and monitoring the SAP in terms of the current situation of live tracks to planning overlays or courses of action, Monitoring and configuring parameters of the current situation ORBAT entities, Capturing and configuring observations (or incidents) as part of information or intelligence, Issuing and receiving orders, reports and requests making use of tactical messaging and / or broadband e-mail facility, Distributing contingencies and new or updated plans, Maintaining a war diary, Maintaining logistical data, Maintaining personnel data, Maintaining meteorological data.

12.2.7. The Review mode comprises: Generation of reports from a local database, Basic animation and replay of entity movement, Analysis of the war diary (filtered views).

12.2.8. The System Management mode comprises: System monitor to determine the general state of health of the software and communications network, Self-test facility, Self-repair facility to restore installation, Defining and capturing user privileges linked to software functional elements, Set-up of GPS and time zone detail.

13.1.     With few national exceptions, future military operations will be combined and joint, conducted as part of an alliance or coalition forces. Such operations require units and formations of participating nations to operate subordinated to or in co-operation with each other. Key to any operation will be effective command and control across national boundaries and between multinational formations or units.

13.2.   The successful execution of fast-moving operations will require an accelerated decision-action cycle, increased speed of operations and an ability to conduct operations simultaneously within combined/multinational formations or a higher quality of decisions. The integration of information technology into command structures and procedures will have a profound effect on the execution of command and control. Commanders require pertinent information to enhance their decision-making and command capabilities.

13.3.   Information technology will act as a force-multiplier to enhance operational effectiveness at every level of command by enabling the exchange, filtering and processing of ever-increasing amounts of digital information. The future Battlespace may require forces to be more dispers ed over a larger area of intelligence interest, with long li nes of communications and with the requirement to provide timely and secure information per the commander’s priorities.

 13.4.   The CHAKA C2 system was developed to address the following requirements:

13.4.1.  Future military operations are seen as combined and joint.

13.4.2.  Need for enhanced decision-making and command capabilities.

13.4.3.  Need for timely and secure information.

13.5.   CHAKA enhances combat power by providing an efficient and effective means of managing and distributing information on the battlefield.

13.6.   CHAKA is a full field deployable, scalable system that provides near real-time situational awareness and messaging across a wide range of communications bearers including Combat Net Radio, Local Area Networks, Wide Area Networks, satellite and point-to-point serial links.

13.7.   CHAKA has been engineered from its foundation to accommodate the very restricted bandwidths available in today’s combat net radio systems, whilst at the same time being able to take full advantage of the higher bandwidths available in Local and Wide Area Networks.

13.8.   CHAKA is not based on any specific doctrine and as such can be utilized by any force in the planning, control and execution of operations.

13.9.   CHAKA can be utilized during any type of operations ranging from Conventional – to Peace Keeping Operations. It is also suitable for utilization in Special Forces operations.

13.10.   The modular structure and scalability of the CHAKA software permit the use in individual vehicles as well as in complex command posts with several work stations.

13.11.   CHAKA ensures the creation of an integral, static and mobile command information system across the command levels of a brigade, regiment, battalion, independent units, company, squadron, group and team.