Combat Information Center
The Operations Room is the tactical center
Military tactics
Military tactics, the science and art of organizing an army or an air force, are the techniques for using weapons or military units in combination for engaging and defeating an enemy in battle. Changes in philosophy and technology over time have been reflected in changes to military tactics. In...

 of a warship
A warship is a ship that is built and primarily intended for combat. Warships are usually built in a completely different way from merchant ships. As well as being armed, warships are designed to withstand damage and are usually faster and more maneuvrable than merchant ships...

 or AWAC aircraft providing processed information for command and control of the near battle space or 'area of operations'. Alternatively, within other military commands rooms serving similar functions are called the similar Command Information Center; the number of different terms for spaces that serve ostensibly the same function may explain why the plain and generally non-descriptive "Operations Center" is a prevalent term. Regardless of the vessel or command locus, each CIC organizes and processes information into a form more convenient and usable by the commander in authority. Each CIC funnels communications and data received over multiple channels from several types of data, which is then organized, evaluated, weighted and arranged to provide ordered timely information flow to the battle command staff under the control of the CIC officer and his deputies.

Command Information Centers or equivalently Command Centers) are widely depicted in film and television treatments, frequently with large maps, numerous computer consoles and quite often radar and sonar repeater displays or consoles, as well as the almost ubiquitous grease-pencil annotated polar plot on an edge lighted transparent plotting board. At the time the CIC concept was born, the projected map like polar display (PPI scopes
Plan position indicator
The plan position indicator , is the most common type of radar display. The radar antenna is usually represented in the center of the display, so the distance from it and height above ground can be drawn as concentric circles...

) with the ship at the center was making its way into radar displays displacing the A-scope which was basically only a time delayed blip showing a range on an oscilloscope
An oscilloscope is a type of electronic test instrument that allows observation of constantly varying signal voltages, usually as a two-dimensional graph of one or more electrical potential differences using the vertical or 'Y' axis, plotted as a function of time,...

 Cathode Ray Tube
Cathode ray tube
The cathode ray tube is a vacuum tube containing an electron gun and a fluorescent screen used to view images. It has a means to accelerate and deflect the electron beam onto the fluorescent screen to create the images. The image may represent electrical waveforms , pictures , radar targets and...


Such polar plots are used routinely in navigation and military action management to display time stamped range and bearing information to the CIC decision makers. A single 'mark' (range and bearing datum) bears little actionable decision making information by itself. A succession of such data though tell quite a few things more, including whether the contact is closing or opening in range, an idea of its speed and direction (these are calculable, even from bearings-only data, given sufficient observations and tactics), the relation to other contacts and their ranges and behaviors. Harvesting such data sets from the polar plots and computers (Common to sonar
Sonar is a technique that uses sound propagation to navigate, communicate with or detect other vessels...

, radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

 and lidar
LIDAR is an optical remote sensing technology that can measure the distance to, or other properties of a target by illuminating the target with light, often using pulses from a laser...

) allows the CIC crew to plot the data correctly on a chart or map at the correct range and bearing, and to calculate the course and speed of the contact accurately, giving the set a vast expansion to include future positions, given unchanged relative courses and relative speeds.

The Operations Room in the naval context brings together and manages information on the warship's status, its surroundings and supplies this to the commanding officer
Commanding officer
The commanding officer is the officer in command of a military unit. Typically, the commanding officer has ultimate authority over the unit, and is usually given wide latitude to run the unit as he sees fit, within the bounds of military law...

, who would generally be present on the nearby bridge or present where plots can be viewed and, if one is aboard, a flag officer
Flag Officer
A flag officer is a commissioned officer in a nation's armed forces senior enough to be entitled to fly a flag to mark where the officer exercises command. The term usually refers to the senior officers in an English-speaking nation's navy, specifically those who hold any of the admiral ranks; in...

 who might have their own separate "flag bridge" and Fleet CIC. The 'Operations Room' or 'Operations Center' in other command contexts has the same function, information ordering, gathering, and presentation to the decision makers whether it is to a Prime Minister, General or local police chief. The types and controls over the collection of information, the communications systems may vary, but the task or mission of providing clarification of the situation and options to the commander remain the same whether the Ops Center is located on a submarine, surface ship or airplane.

Some control, assistance, and coordination functions may be delegated to the operations room staff or directly to the CIC officer, such as overseeing the mode and prioritization of sensor resources such as radar monitoring, targeting, or sonar activities; communications to external sources and assets. CIC is sometimes referred to by Operations Specialists as "Christ I'm Confused".

On aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

s this area is called the combat direction center (CDC).
Under British usages, an operations room used for the control of aircraft may be known as an Aircraft Direction Room. Together with the Operations Room they form an "Operations Headquarters".
The British Aircraft Direction Room evolved from the Fighter Direction Office, a primitive means of controlling an aircraft carrier's aircraft through radio and radar. The United States developed their Command Information Center concept circa the winter of 1942–1943 and implemented it in a surge of refitting and retraining during 1943 after post-battle action analyses of the various desperate battles in 1942 from the battle of the Coral Sea
Battle of the Coral Sea
The Battle of the Coral Sea, fought from 4–8 May 1942, was a major naval battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II between the Imperial Japanese Navy and Allied naval and air forces from the United States and Australia. The battle was the first fleet action in which aircraft carriers engaged...

 through the losses at Ironbottom Sound
Ironbottom Sound
"Ironbottom Sound" is the name given by Allied sailors to Savo Sound, the stretch of water at the southern end of The Slot between Guadalcanal, Savo Island, and Florida Island of the Solomon Islands, because of the dozens of ships and planes that sank there during the Battle of Guadalcanal in...

 during the protracted Solomon Islands campaign
Solomon Islands campaign
The Solomon Islands campaign was a major campaign of the Pacific War of World War II. The campaign began with Japanese landings and occupation of several areas in the British Solomon Islands and Bougainville, in the Territory of New Guinea, during the first six months of 1942...



The idea of such a centralised control room is surprisingly old; it can be found in science fiction as early as The Struggle For Empire (1900)
Robert William Cole
Robert William Cole was a British author who wrote early science fiction and future war fiction. Cole's works, long out of print and very obscure, can be found at the British Library. They include the following:...

. Early versions were used in the second world war; according to Rear Admiral Cal Laning
Cal Laning
Rear Admiral Caleb Barrett Laning was a highly decorated naval office, writer, and technical adviser. He was involved in the development of the U.S. naval Combat Information Center during World War II...

, the idea for a command information center was taken “specifically, consciously, and directly” from the spaceship Directrix in the Lensman
The Lensman series is a serial science fiction space opera by Edward Elmer "Doc" Smith. It was a runner-up for the Hugo award for best All-Time Series ....

 novels of E.E. Smith, Ph.D., and influenced by the works of his friend and collaborator Robert Heinlein, a retired American Naval Officer. After the numerous losses during the various naval battles off Guadalcanal
Guadalcanal is a tropical island in the South-Western Pacific. The largest island in the Solomons, it was discovered by the Spanish expedition of Alvaro de Mendaña in 1568...

 during the war of attrition that was part and parcel of the Solomon Islands campaign
Solomon Islands campaign
The Solomon Islands campaign was a major campaign of the Pacific War of World War II. The campaign began with Japanese landings and occupation of several areas in the British Solomon Islands and Bougainville, in the Territory of New Guinea, during the first six months of 1942...

 and the Battle of Guadalcanal the United States Navy employed Operational analysis, determined many of their losses were due to procedure and disorganization, and implemented the Combat Information Centers building on what was initially called "radar plot" according to an essay "CIC Yesterday and Today" by the Naval Historical Center. That same article points out that in 1942 radar, radar procedure, battle experiences, needs, and the CIC all grew up together as needs developed and experience was gained and training spread, all in fits and starts beginning with the earliest radar uses in the Pacific battles starting with the Coral Sea
Battle of the Coral Sea
The Battle of the Coral Sea, fought from 4–8 May 1942, was a major naval battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II between the Imperial Japanese Navy and Allied naval and air forces from the United States and Australia. The battle was the first fleet action in which aircraft carriers engaged...

, when radar gave rise to the first tentative attempt to vector an Air CAP
Combat air patrol
Combat air patrol is a type of flying mission for fighter aircraft.A combat air patrol is an aircraft patrol provided over an objective area, over the force protected, over the critical area of a combat zone, or over an air defense area, for the purpose of intercepting and destroying hostile...

 to approaching Japanese flights, maturing some before the Battle of Midway
Battle of Midway
The Battle of Midway is widely regarded as the most important naval battle of the Pacific Campaign of World War II. Between 4 and 7 June 1942, approximately one month after the Battle of the Coral Sea and six months after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States Navy decisively defeated...

, where post-battle analysis of Coral Sea's results had given more confidence in the ability and to the process and the desire was bolstered by new procedures giving their measure of added confidence.

The Naval Historical Center essay notes that growing the responsibility of the nascent CIC organization necessarily upset the old order of doing, who was reporting to whom, and most of all, of communications protocols where now CIC's within a task group were when possible joined in permanent communication links to even the lowliest Destroyer Escort or fleet axillary, adding the eyes and reports of their lookouts to those of similar watch-standers about the fleet as a whole. In short the CIC's continually grew for a time superseding old organizational structure and supplanting them with a new system filtering and shaping information to a newly empowered command group. The tasks and facilities put at the service of the CIC's also grew within a ship. While in 1943 a Destroyer CIC might just have been configured for Anti-ship and Anti-submarine warfare tasks, by the Battle of the Philippine Sea
Battle of the Philippine Sea
The Battle of the Philippine Sea was a decisive naval battle of World War II which effectively eliminated the Imperial Japanese Navy's ability to conduct large-scale carrier actions. It took place during the United States' amphibious invasion of the Mariana Islands during the Pacific War...

 when set out as radar pickets had to under take forward air controller (FAC) functions and somehow jam in air search radar and anti-air action control functions.

From that beginning, were added the corporate experiences of the continuing series of naval air and naval surface actions around and about the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands campaign
Solomon Islands campaign
The Solomon Islands campaign was a major campaign of the Pacific War of World War II. The campaign began with Japanese landings and occupation of several areas in the British Solomon Islands and Bougainville, in the Territory of New Guinea, during the first six months of 1942...

. By late 1943 when the first new construction carriers of the Essex class
Essex class aircraft carrier
The Essex class was a class of aircraft carriers of the United States Navy, which constituted the 20th century's most numerous class of capital ships with 24 vessels built in both "short-hull" and "long-hull" versions. Thirty-two were originally ordered; however as World War II wound down, six were...

 fleet carriers and the Independence class Light carriers
Independence class aircraft carrier
The Independence class aircraft carriers were a class of light carriers built for the United States Navy that served during World War II.This class were a result of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's interest in Navy shipbuilding plans...

 with many associated fleet vessels had reinforced the
the refitted USS Enterprise (CV-6)
USS Enterprise (CV-6)
USS Enterprise , colloquially referred to as the "Big E," was the sixth aircraft carrier of the United States Navy and the seventh U.S. Navy ship to bear the name. Launched in 1936, she was a ship of the Yorktown class, and one of only three American carriers commissioned prior to World War II to...

 and the USS Saratoga (CV-3)
USS Saratoga (CV-3)
USS Saratoga was the second aircraft carrier of the United States Navy and the fifth ship to bear her name. She was commissioned one month earlier than her sister and class leader, , which is the third actually commissioned after and Saratoga...

, the U.S. Navy was prepared to take the offensive and began evolving CIC procedures and operational doctrine for a fleet of carriers.

There has been an evolution of electronics
Electronics is the branch of science, engineering and technology that deals with electrical circuits involving active electrical components such as vacuum tubes, transistors, diodes and integrated circuits, and associated passive interconnection technologies...

A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem...

) equipment and user interface
User interface
The user interface, in the industrial design field of human–machine interaction, is the space where interaction between humans and machines occurs. The goal of interaction between a human and a machine at the user interface is effective operation and control of the machine, and feedback from the...

s used in such installations over time. Modern Operations Room equipment is built up from many connected embedded system
Embedded system
An embedded system is a computer system designed for specific control functions within a larger system. often with real-time computing constraints. It is embedded as part of a complete device often including hardware and mechanical parts. By contrast, a general-purpose computer, such as a personal...


See also

  • Air Defense Control Center
  • Control center solutions
    Control center solutions
    Control Center Solution is a generic term for different designs of technical arrangement within staffed command & control facilities. Control Centers represent more or less integrated installations with one or more work positions that are used to manage resources in order to achieve results in...

  • Joint Tactical Information Distribution System
    Joint Tactical Information Distribution System
    The Joint Tactical Information Distribution System is an L band TDMA network radio system used by the United States armed forces and their allies to support data communications needs, principally in the air and missile defense community...

  • Mission Control Center
    Mission Control Center
    A mission control center is an entity that manages aerospace vehicle flights, usually from the point of lift-off until the landing or the end of the mission. A staff of flight controllers and other support personnel monitor all aspects of the mission using telemetry, and send commands to the...

  • Naval Tactical Data System
    Naval Tactical Data System
    Naval Tactical Data System, commonly NTDS, refers to a computerized information processing system developed by the United States Navy in the 1950s and first deployed in the early 1960s for use in combat ships.- Reason for development :...

  • Tactical communications
    Tactical communications
    Tactical communications are communications in which information of any kind, especially orders and decisions, are conveyed from one command, person, or place to another within tactical forces. In modern times, this is usually done by electronic means....

External links

US Navy Surface Warfare Officer School - Division Officer Training
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