The Operations Room (also known as the Combat Information Center (CIC), or, under the British system, the Action Information Centre) is the tactical center of a warship or AWAC aircraft providing processed information for command and control of the near battlespace or 'area of operations'. Within other military commands, rooms serving similar functions are called by the similar "Command Information Center" or simply "Command center"; the number of different terms for spaces that serve much 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, 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.
1 Overview 2 Development 3 See also 4 References 5 External links
Overview Operations Rooms are widely depicted in film and television treatments, frequently with large maps, numerous computer consoles and 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) with the ship at the center was making its way into radar displays displacing the A-scope which was simply a time-delayed blip showing a range on an oscilloscope Cathode ray tube. 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 tells much 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 knowledge of tactics), the relation to other contacts and their ranges and behaviors. Harvesting such data sets from the polar plots and computers (Common to sonar, radar and lidar) 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.
1960s vintage operations room aboard the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Cavalier
The Operations Room in the naval context brings together and manages
information on the warship's status and its surroundings, and supplies
this to the commanding officer, who would generally be present on the
nearby bridge or where plots can be viewed and, if one is aboard, a
flag officer 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.
On US aircraft carriers this area is called the combat direction
center (CDC). 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 battles in 1942 from the battle of the Coral Sea through
the losses at
CIC of USS Spruance, 1975.
CIC of USS Carl Vinson, 2001.
Layout of the Combat Information Center of early Aegis cruisers.
The idea of such a centralised control room can be found in science
fiction as early as The Struggle for Empire (1900). Early versions
were used in the Second World War; according to Rear Admiral Cal
Laning, the idea for a command information center was taken
“specifically, consciously, and directly” from the spaceship
Directrix in the
Lensman 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
Air Defense Control Center Joint Tactical Information Distribution System Mission control center Naval Tactical Data System Tactical communications Comprehensive Display System
^ Flight 1957
^ Flight 1957 referring to the carrier HMS Ark Royal
^ Unpublished letter from
John W. Campbell
CIC room (World War II) CIC manual (World War II) Naval Ordnance and Gunnery, 1958 USS Sterett, CIC 1968 -1991 Modern RN Ops Room
US Navy Surface Warfare Officer School - Division Officer Training
Surface CIC Air CIC Sub