Ready-for-Sea Handbook
United States Naval Reserve Intelligence Program


A. Battlegroup Commanders 3-
B. Role of the Composite Warfare Commander (CWC) 3-
1. Location of CWC 3-
2. CWC Limitations 3-
C. CWC Call Signs 3-
1. Surface Warfare Commander (AS) 3-
2. Undersea Warfare Commander (AX) 3-
3. Air Warfare Commander (AW) 3-
4. Command & Control Warfare Commander (AQ) 3-
5. Strike Warfare Commander (AP) 3-
6. Air Resources Element Coordinator (AR) 3-
7. Helicopter Element Coordinator (HEC) 3-
8. Submarine Element Coordinator (SEC) 3-
9. Force Over the Horizon Track Coordinator (FOTC ) 3-
10. Screen Coordinator (SC) 3-


The post Cold War world has seen a rapid growth on potential air, surface, and subsurface threats facing our naval forces. This increased threat resulted in part from the numerous advanced weapons systems, sensors and delivery platforms now available on the open market, especially since the end of the Cold War. Countries supplying these systems include North Korea, People’s Republic of China, and the former Soviet Union. With more and more third world countries in possession of these improved weapon systems, the reaction time available to friendly forces operating in sensitive areas (such as the Persian Gulf) decreases. During the Cold War, U.S. defense doctrine used a trip wire concept vis--vis the former Soviet Union. Such a doctrine made a clear distinction between operations conducted in peacetime and wartime. Today’s geo-political world is much more difficult and provides little flexibility to counter a greatly increased though decentralized "threat." The post Cold War world requires a realignment of surveillance and reaction responsibilities with a much greater emphasis on decentralized authority. Such a doctrine provides for more effective procedures for use of battlegroup resources in tactical sea control.

A. Battlegroup Commanders

The overall battlegroup commander is the Composite Warfare Commander (CWC) who acts as the central command authority for the entire battlegroup. The CWC designates subordinate warfare commanders are assigned to the CWC for air warfare (AWC), surface warfare (SUWC) undersea warfare (USWC), strike (STWC) and space and electronic warfare commander (C2W). Supporting the CWC and his warfare commanders are coordinators who manage force sensors and assets within the battlegroup.

The CWC must remain cognizant of the tactical picture in all warfare areas and must be able to correlate information from external sources that develop locally. Generally, three prerequisites are necessary to adequately maintain the tactical picture: communications to disseminate information; displays to retain it; and a watch staff to understand and interpret it.

B. Role of the Composite Warfare Commander (CWC)

In deciding the assignment and location of warfare commanders and coordinators the CWC should take into account the tactical situation, size of force and the capabilities of the available assets to cope with the expected threat. Such analysis may lead the CWC to decide to retain direct control of one or more of the warfare areas. When appropriate, a designated commander may be assigned alternate and supporting functions in addition to his primary responsibility.

1. Location of CWC

The battlegroup commander requires a clean tactical picture to control his forces effectively. To maintain such a picture the CWC must be located where he (a) has ready access to his principal assets; (b) is minimally handicapped by any emission controls (EMCON) or communications limitations; and (c) has optimum facilities for receipt, processing, and display of information concerning unit readiness and the tactical situation.

Within the battlegroup, the CWC can best control combat operations from the carrier. Tightly structured rules of engagement (ROE) may require the CWC to maintain more direct control of assets.

Methodologically speaking, the CWC doctrine provides a structure around which tactics can be executed. However, CWC is not a "tactic" unto itself. Individual mission parameters must dictate how much or how little the doctrine is employed.

2. CWC Limitations

As with any command theory or doctrine, the CWC concept has its limitations. For example, the CWC doctrine is designed for macro battlegroup or task force level operations. Smaller task units or elements may allow a separate Officer in Tactical Command (OTC) to fulfill all sea control functions himself. The CWC doctrine also developed during the Cold War for potential multi-threat combat operations against the former Soviet Union. Contingency operations encompassing lesser threats or politically selective operations involving tightly structured ROEs may require the CWC to maintain even more direct control of assets. Conceptually, the CWC doctrine provides a framework around which tactics are executed. In all cases however, the assigned mission must dictate how much or how little the doctrine is employed. Another limitation is the multiple tasking of battlegroup platforms without clear definition of priorities.

Most importantly, the CWC and his individual warfare commanders must understand their responsibilities and how they may change in different tactical situations or as a limited engagement transitions to hot war.

C. CWC Call Signs

WARFARE Commander or Coordinator



Composite Warfare Commander



Surface Warfare Commander



Undersea Warfare Commander



Air Warfare Commander



Command & Control Warfare Commander



Strike Warfare Commander



Air Resource Element Coordinator



Helicopter Element Coordinator



Submarine Element Coordinator



Force Over-the-Horizon Track Coordinator



Screen Coordinator



1. Surface Warfare Commander (AS)

The surface warfare commander can best perform his duties from onboard the carrier due to superior Command-Control-Communications-Computers and Intelligence (C4I) and proximity to surface surveillance coordination (SSC) and war-at-sea (WAS) tactical air assets. He is usually the commanding officer of the CV(N). Alternate AS is often a Tomahawk-capable ship commanding officer. AS is responsible for planning and executing both offensive and defensive war-at-sea strikes as well as for SSC. This maximizes the benefits of the close relationship necessary between the AS and the Force Over-the-Horizon Track Coordinator (FOTC, see below).

2. Undersea Warfare Commander (AX)

The tactical DESRON commander is normally the undersea warfare commander (AX). AX is often double hatted as Helicopter Element Coordinator (HEC, see below) and Screen Coordinator (SC, see below). Alternate AX is often the senior DD-963 (Spruance-class) commanding officer or, if none is available, a senior commanding officer of the primary mission USW DD(G)/FF(G) in the battlegroup.

3. Air Warfare Commander (AW)

The commanding officer of the cruiser in the battlegroup is often assigned as AW. Preferably, it is a Ticonderoga class CG operating the AEGIS weapon system. The Combat Information Center (CIC) of these ships is specially designed for inner air battle functions. A second cruiser within the battlegroup may act as an alternate AW to allow a 12 hours on - 12 hours off rotation.

4. Command & Control Warfare Commander (AQ)

The space and electronic warfare commander acts as principal advisor to CWC for use and counter-use of the electromagnetic spectrum by friendly and enemy forces. AQ will promulgate Force Emissions Control (EMCON) restrictions, monitors organic and non-organic intelligence and surveillance sensors and develops operational deception and counter-targeting plans as appropriate. AQ is located onboard the carrier. An alternate call sign for C2W is AZ.

5. Strike Warfare Commander (AP)

In single CVBG operations the carrier air wing commander (CAG) is normally assigned as the air warfare commander. The CWC may retain AP and use the CAG to augment CWC staff if desired. AP sets general strike philosophy, policy and employs manned aircraft and tactical missiles. AP sets strikes which can include both carrier strike assets and TLAM in accordance with the Air Tasking Order (ATO) when applicable.

6. Air Resources Element Coordinator (AR)

The air resource element coordinator provides organic carrier air resources as tasked by warfare commanders and the CWC. AR promulgates current information on the availability of aircraft to the CWC and other warfare commanders as well as disseminates information or results (e.g., BDA) achieved by organic carrier air resources. The CV(N)’s Strike Operations Officer normally handles this function.

7. Helicopter Element Coordinator (HEC)

The Helicopter Element Coordinator promulgates air and air plans for non-logistics (e.g., USW, OTH-T) helicopters such as the LAMPS-II/III to support battlegroup operations.

8. Submarine Element Coordinator (SEC)

The Submarine Element Coordinator acts as principle advisor to AX for submarine matters when an SSN is assigned in integrated in direct support (SSN DS) of the battlegroup. The SEC acts as executive agent to advise in planning and direction of SSN DS employment. Reports directly to OTC/CWC on matters of submarine safety. The SEC assists in preparation of submarine sections of operational tasking for USW elements.

9. Force Over the Horizon Track Coordinator (FOTC )

The FOTC manages and collates all-source (organic and non-organic) contact information. As such, he designates contacts of critical concern to the battlegroup.

10. Screen Coordinator (SC)

The Screen Coordinator provides tactical direction to the ships of the battlegroup which constitute the inner USW screen.