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U.S. Navy Tackles Innovative Technologies With a Trident

July 29, 2010
By Maryann Lawlor, SIGNAL Online Exclusive
E-mail About the Author

Speed was the focus of the Trident Warrior 2010 (TW10) U.S. Navy experiment: increasing the speed of communications, assessments and especially acquisition. Participants in the event evaluated nearly 100 technologies that touched upon areas such as networks; coalition information operations; command and control; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. With the support of the U.S. Marine Corps, early feedback about the experiment reveals that TW10 resulted in resolution of some maritime domain awareness doctrine issues.

Capt. Carl Conti, USN, experimentation director, Fleet Forces Command (N-9), explains that one of his goals for the event was to discover new ways of doing business to accelerate the procedures for delivering new technical solutions into the hands of warfighters. “Some of it’s doctrine related, some of it’s technology related and some of it’s procedure related. The idea is that when someone has a good idea out there, let’s take it to sea and see what happens when you put it in the hands of a real sailor or Marine out there,” Capt. Conti says. Today, the time between technology experimentation and fielding can be up to six years. One goal of TW10 was to find ways to cut that lag time by 50 percent and in some cases by 75 percent.

The captain notes that TW10 has actually affected the pace of acquisition. Each year, the event group explores at least 80 technologies, and three or four of them can be introduced into the field within a year, and sometimes within months.

For example, last year a wireless reach-back was explored for the expeditionary special operations teams. In the past, when a suspect was captured, a member of the team would have to take a picture of the person and then sneaker-net it to the ship to determine if he or she was a person of interest. As a result of the wireless technology evaluated last year, that picture can now be e-mailed via an 802.11 secure wireless network to the ship so the it can be compared with photos of persons of interest in the national database. “That was one [technology] that was accelerated pretty quickly because people said that they needed it and we’ve got to figure this out now,” Capt. Conti shares.

As the person who oversaw the event, the captain relates that experiment participants who conducted the assessments not only evaluated the advantages of certain technologies but at some points also would play the devil’s advocate to challenge appraisals. This methodology ensured that data collected supported the assessor’s findings, he notes.