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"Effects of EW on Command and Control?" Topic

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1,095 hits since 10 Mar 2013
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SpleenRippa10 Mar 2013 7:58 a.m. PST

Hi all,

I'm messing about with the activation/C&C for a 15mm platoon(?)-level game (smallest element is a squad or special team) and I was wondering if anyone knows of any good reading on how Electronic Warfare or hacking/cyber attacks might affect command and control in future conflicts?

If anyone is interested, this is what's rattling around in my head this morning:

I kind of like the order delays that Striker used, but want to streamline the concept, for inclusion into my (probably horrid) FUBAR/Stargrunt/Striker/me frankenrule system.

Right now, I have a player's force/army rated with a vague kind of "command efficiency level," which is an abstraction of the comms, internet, usual leadership quality, etc. Used by that particular force to maintain C&C.

In a no-interference environment, the CEL equates to the delay in issuing new orders.
For example, your force has a CEL of 2, which means that new orders will take 2 turns to make it from your chit pile to the table.

Of course, your opponent's EW suites and your own systems will vie for control during the engagement, increasing order delays, interfering with drones, and all manner of wackiness.

At least, I hope.

ming31 Inactive Member10 Mar 2013 8:45 a.m. PST

I liked how tomorrow's war handled the grid . the more tech the harder the ew loss affected you

Zephyr110 Mar 2013 2:54 p.m. PST

I'd just have each player roll a D6. The winner gets points equal to the difference in rolls, and can use them to affect the opponent's actions (like your examples of delays, drones can't shoot for a turn, etc.) Ties just mean both sides stymied each other. No need to get it all complicated…. ;-)

Personal logo Pictors Studio Sponsoring Member of TMP10 Mar 2013 5:11 p.m. PST

In Infinity players can actually hack into other player's power armour (as well as other things.) If they succeed there is a chance that they will take control of that model and do all manner of unpleasantness to the other models friendly to that model.

Lion in the Stars10 Mar 2013 11:46 p.m. PST

The new rules in Campaign Paradiso (the new Infinity book) have added a thing called a Jammer, which isolates the target from the rest of the group. Does nasty things if you target the on-table 'Lieutenant' (basically acts like you killed the LT, pretty much takes the opponents full turn to ID the new boss)

(Jake Collins of NZ 2) Inactive Member11 Mar 2013 12:10 p.m. PST

I think I'd rather treat EW/cyber as a fog of war event. Rather than have detailed and complex rules.

Aldroud12 Mar 2013 11:21 a.m. PST

I like opposed rolls for these sorts of things. I've played with a system that used Echelon communications to pass through orders and request support that worked pretty well.

If talking to the echelon above or below in the Chain of Command, the active player rolls a dice for a pre-determined success number. The opponent rolls another die and either beats the active player's roll, or the active player fails to roll the success number. When you go out of echelon (company commander ordering a fire team for example), the dice get modified. EW modifies the oppossing player's die as well, giving him more chances to block communications.

Easiest way is an example. A company attack sees a mechanized infantry unit with a company commander, 2 platoon leaders with 2 squads each, plus 7 vehicles. Their opponent is a similar unit, dug in and defending.

Attacking company commander issues orders to PLs to move their platoons, so roll a d8 and 3+ orders are received. Defending company tries to use EW, so they roll a d6 and try to beat the attacker's roll.

Now, say the company commander wants to move a particular squad. Since that's not an echelon communication, the die shift down to a d6.

Or, the defending company has better EW tech, so instead of a d6, they shift to a d8 for their roll.

Mess around with this idea for EW, but be cautious. I've had a game that bogged down in EW, Counter-EW, Counter-Counter-EW to the extent we hardly got to shoot at each other.

John D Salt Inactive Member12 Mar 2013 3:36 p.m. PST

In the old days, EW was conducted by the enemy. A competent enemy would intercept your transmissions, and might well do so unobtrusively, building up a picture of your orbat over time. A fellow I knew many years ago, called Big Dennis, was very interesting on this subject, and had firm opinions on the relative electronic security of different NATO armies. These opinons were based on experience; he had done his national service with an electronic intelligence unit of the Czechoslovak Army, before the wall came down. He thought the Germans were the biggest challenge, though crackable eventually; the Brits would normally have some outbreak of carelessness that would tell you what you wanted to know sooner or later; and if you didn't have the complete American orbat within the first 24 hours, you were slacking.

If the passive intercept thing isn't enough, you might have linguists available to insert false orders on the enemy net at irritating moments (even at very low tactical lelvesl). It is in order to avoid such unpleasantness as this that people came up with veiled speech, tactical codes such as Slidex, and authentication procedures. So, if someone you didn't recognise came up on the net telling you to do something tactically improbable, you would say "Authenticate, six, nine", and when he failed to answer with the authentication bigram you had on your sheet, you would (folowing what the RN charmingly named the "Judas procedure") order everyone to scuttle to their alternate frequency. This in itself would probably fudge things up rather worse than just the delay of new netting checks on the new freq, because 10% of the stations on the net would probably not make it to the new frequency at all, and remain out of contact until they got a runner through to tac HQ to find out WIHIH. At this point you probably discover that the unknown station you challenged to authenticate is in fact Lt-Col Cholmondely-Warner of the 3rd Queen's Own Heavy Things, and although he speaks a bit funny is not actually an enemy, and he gave the wrong authentication bigram because he was already two places ahead of you on the list, having been asked to authenticate twice already when you couldn't hear or weren't listening.

Though intercepting and DFing is the best thing to do to enemy nets, if his security is any good, you may have to make do with jamming them. Silent jamming is best, and few signallers are switched-on enough to remember to fiddle with the squelch at intervals to see if they are being silently jammed. Jammers are high-powered and typically unreliable beasties, and rather easy to DF and CB, so you will want to site them carefully, and probably "jam and scram" rather than sticking around awaiting the arrival of the first 130mm instructions to cease and desist.

Jamming is of coure best concentrated on the specific fequencies you want to zap (spot jamming), but obviously a frequency change might frustrate this, so an associated intercept effort is needed. Barrage jamming or swept-spot jamming obviously cover more frequencies, but may make you unpopular with friends if you haven't checked what frequencies everybody on your side is using. Good signallers continue to send through jamming, not only because something might get through, but also to deny the jammer confirmation that his jamming is successful.

The British Army binned its Bromures and gave up its offensive jamming capability a while back, but a cow-orker of mine who used to be in 14 (EW) Sigs Regt tells me that on an exercise they once borrowed a bunch of noise jammers from the Norwegians, and had fun playng Bob Marley at full blast on some of our American allies' command nets. Why Bob Marley? "We're Jammin'", of course.

All these electronical complications typically make C2 not just hard, but too horrible to contemplate, and for this excellent reason one of the tacit defence planning assumptions for many years has been that we would only ever go to war with an enemy whose EW capability was, to quote a senior defence analysts friend of mine, "the electronic equivalent of a sharpened mango."

In these modern days of frequency-hopping digitzed comms and tactical ad-hoc networks, we have pretty much vitiated the intecept threat, and jamming is a good deal harder. In any case, we are faced with enemies armed with second-hand Klashers and idiotic interpretations of religious texts, whose EW capabilities don't even make it to the blunt fruit level of capability.

In order to maintain balance, therefore, the threat to communications formerly provided by the assiduous enemy is now provided by our own tactical comms technology. "Trap-door" algorithm crypto may make our radios secure, but it also presents an admin problem of arranging the crypto fills to make an experienced Yeoman of Signals break down in tears. Digital comms may require system planning so complex that the British Army has not yet quite managed ever to do it from scratch. Tactical ad-hoc networks might choose to elect new cluster-heads at the most inconvenient possible moment. The RF-triggered IED threat means that all patrols carry jammers that interfere with our own comms frequencies. And the whole megillah is powered by a weighty and expensive array of mutually-incompatible batteries, which we hope by now have stopped bursting into flames while being charged.

This is called "The Revolution in Military Affairs", and partly explains why unit-level planning now takes at least four times as long as it did in 1944.

On the plus side, incompetent sysadmins who have just made a howling horlicks of their network can appeal to the "cyberwarfare" threat in order to conceal or excuse their own ineptitude.

Oh, and Mr. Doctrinally-Picky says that EW can never directly affect command and control, it affects ony communications. There's a difference.

All the best,


SpleenRippa13 Mar 2013 4:29 p.m. PST

Wow, that was some great reading. Thanks for the replies, everyone :)

I'm thinking that the "EW level" of both sides is tracked, with the difference in levels allowing the higher player to spend points on certain actions.

For example, Bob has an "EW level" of 4 and John's is 2.
Bob can spend the 2 point difference on:
1 pt- roll to garble/change/delay a unit's order(s)
1 pt- enemy unit suffers a +1 penalty (to whatever)
2 pts- make a hacking attempt on a drone
And so on…


Lion in the Stars13 Mar 2013 9:40 p.m. PST

The British Army binned its Bromures and gave up its offensive jamming capability a while back, but a cow-orker of mine who used to be in 14 (EW) Sigs Regt tells me that on an exercise they once borrowed a bunch of noise jammers from the Norwegians, and had fun playng Bob Marley at full blast on some of our American allies' command nets. Why Bob Marley? "We're Jammin'", of course.

Love the Brit sense of humor.

Since you're talking about platoon to fireteam comms, never forget the emergency backup for when the batteries die in the radio: Yell.

I suppose I could ask how detail-oriented your rules are. Ambush Alley rules give a lot of bonuses to having a good Grid, but a huge penalty for losing the grid.

I really like the Fog of War effect, as opposed to something that your platoon leader has access to or control over. Are you really assuming that a platoon is going to have an EW team?

Adam name not long enough Inactive Member01 Apr 2013 6:45 a.m. PST

@ John – I had to smile as I read your post.

@ LitS – couldn't agree more, runners / yelling / hand signals should work upto if not beyond platoon level.

Most modern tactical radios have such a short range and need near enough line of sight so it is difficult to jam or EW them. I think the OP is looking at more of a 'distributed network' type of C2 system. This will be important for fires and battlegroup manouver, but largely irrelevant at the sharp end.

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