Consider the downsizing of our forces, the increasing complexity of our tactical platforms, and the ever widening array of communication options and the conclusion is inevitable. The need for automated support to reduce communication-related workload is critical to continued task force effectiveness. In a previous era, communication management expertise resided solely in the form of human experts. These experts flew with the pilots, providing the most effective means of communication in real time; they have since been removed from a great number of platforms due to force downsizing and real estate value in the cockpit. This burden has typically been shifted to the pilot, providing another set of tasks in an environment which is already far too taxing. An Expert Communication Link Manger (ECLM) is required -- a trusted, reliable assistant which can determine optimal link, channel, and waveform data for the communication requirements at hand and translate those requirements transparently into communication device control. Technologies are at hand which make ECLM possible; the mixture of these elements in the correct proportions can provide a capable, deployable, and cost effective ECLM in the near term. This paper describes specific applied ECLM research work in progress funded by the USAF under a four year effort. Operational objectives, technical objectives, a reference design, and technical excursions within the broad ECLM scope will be discussed in detail. Results of prototypes built to date in the area of communication inference from speech understanding, dynamic adaptive routing, and packet switching networks in the tactical environment will be presented.