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Event Assesses Technologies in Battlefield Network Environment

March 15, 2011
By Maryann Lawlor, SIGNAL Connections
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This year’s Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration (CWID) will focus on enhancing coalition mission planning and execution capabilities in Afghanistan. The military and private-sector are attempting to replicate the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)-led Afghanistan Mission Network (AMN) for the event with an emphasis on joint fires and coalition interoperability.

CWID comprises the assessment of technologies called interoperability trials, which are hosted on the worldwide Combined Federated Battle Laboratories Network (CFBLNet)–a previous CWID interoperability trial. The CFBLNet allows unclassified and simulated classified releasable data exchange among coalition partners.

According to Steve E. Pitcher, Joint Staff representative to the CWID Senior Management Group, event planners are focusing on the AMN so solutions can be assessed in a setting that resembles the battlefield today or in the near future. “This structure gives the demonstrating technologies an opportunity to challenge their capability in a more realistic environment,” Pitcher states.

The AMN is the primary coalition, command, control, computers, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance network in Afghanistan for all ISAF forces. The network allows nations to maintain their own applications, while interoperating seamlessly within ISAF. Sharing a common mission network across coalition lines provides commanders with a more precise operational picture, enabling timely decision making. CWID’s aim is to facilitate the advancement of mission-ready technologies, providing immediate and near-term benefits to the warfighter, Pitcher explains.

The CWID team is working with the coalition interoperability assurance and validation working group (CIAV WG) to create the AMN reproduction. The group is the ISAF Joint Command (IJC) execution arm for efforts that require mission-based interoperability and integration assurance and validation for the AMN.

The CIAV WG is leveraging CWID’s personnel, processes and resources to assist in validating the Joint Fires Coalition Mission Thread (JFCMT). It plans to conduct interoperability assurance and validation of identified mission thread-based requirements for the exchange of critical information when conducting time-sensitive targeting and close-air support services, he explains.

“The goal is to assure the JFCMT and identify capabilities and limitations on the existing AMN to provide the IJC commander with operational impacts that he can use to mitigate risk through modifying doctrine, injecting new standard operating procedures into training, or requesting modifications to enabling systems,” Pitcher relates. This trial will be demonstrated at CWID’s U.S. Army site at Fort Hood, Texas. It also will use resources from multiple coalition test and evaluation environment sites, as well as tie in NATO’s Coalition Warrior Interoperability Exercise event for additional coalition partner participation, he adds.

According to demonstration officials, CWID’s planning is going exceptionally well; the final planning conference takes place March 28 to April 1. Trial technology creators and government sponsors are working closely with CWID’s assessment working group to develop operationally relevant metrics by which to assess the participating technologies.

CWID 2011 currently includes 45 interoperability trials that have been approved for participation. Nearly half of these trials address homeland security and homeland defense efforts; however, the demonstration’s organizational team is interested in additional technologies that would assist in these areas. To this end, this year’s event includes border patrol and natural disaster scenarios so technologies can be examined in an emergency responder operational framework.

Demonstration sites are located in countries around the world, and CWID officials say the decision-quality data that highlights the performance of technologies will be provided to the U.S. Defense Department, federal and state acquisition communities. Participants include organizations such as the Coalition Task Force and U.S. Marine Corps at U.S. Joint Forces Command; the U.S. Air Force, Army and Navy; and Homeland Security and Homeland Defense units at U.S. Northern Command. The Central Technical Support Facility, FortHood and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Battle Lab, Herndon, Virginia, will participate in CWID for the first time this year. International participants and observers include representatives from NATO, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and several European countries.