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War Game to Unleash Interoperability Surge

May 2002
By Maryann Lawlor
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Event focus shifts to practical solutions for commanders.

An event that has become a staple of advancements in military technology has undergone an evolution and now aims at providing theater commanders with immediate solutions to operational interoperability problems before systems move into the field and are tested under fire—live fire.

Military leaders have shifted the focus of this year’s Joint Warrior Interoperability Demonstration (JWID) from being a semi-acquisition effort to becoming a catalyst for an interoperability surge. JWID is scheduled to take place later this month, and the goal is to meet the interoperability requirements of working under joint and allied conditions. The theme, “Harnessing the Global Information Grid: The 21st Century Warfighter’s Environment,” is an indication that the event will address the realities that today’s theater commanders face.

Col. Gary R. Bradley, USMC, director, JWID 2002 Joint Program Office, U.S. Marine Corps Systems Command, Hampton, Virginia, points out that the change in focus this year is the right step in the maturation of JWID. Although the effort will continue to foster what has been strong about past JWIDs—seizing technology and bringing industry into discussions—meeting current interoperability needs is the cornerstone, he says.

JWID, which began in the 1980s, is the Joint-Staff-sponsored arena for demonstrations of evolving command, control, communications, computers and intelligence technologies as well as joint and combined interoperability solutions. Traditionally, the effort followed a biennial cycle. During the first year, demonstrations of technologies proposed by industry were explored in a set scenario (SIGNAL, October 2000, page 71). Out of the several technologies that were examined, a handful were chosen as “gold nuggets” and studied more closely during the second, or exploitation, year. In JWID 2002, however, gold nuggets will not be chosen. Instead, every demonstration will be evaluated.

The framers of JWID were concerned that the elimination of gold nuggets might dissuade companies from participating in the event. However, Col. Bradley maintains that this did not occur. “Industry is being responsive and very forward-thinking. They see JWID as an opportunity to trial run an idea. In many cases, the elimination of the gold nuggets means that this is the trial run of the actual product. Everyone believes that JWID still offers a mutual benefit,” the colonel states.

The process for assessing the technology demonstrations also is changing this year. The evaluations are not solely for the purpose of making an acquisition decision but rather to find interoperability solutions, Col. Bradley shares. Although the event itself is work-intensive, the colonel asserts that the real job will begin after it is over. The JWID team will gather the reviews of all the technologies and create a report that is scheduled to be complete by the end of this fiscal year.

Not everything has changed from the way JWIDs have been run in the past. One service still acts as the lead service and one command directs the demonstration. In 2002, the Marine Corps is the lead service and the U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM), Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii, is the commander in chief (CINC).

The technologies being explored during JWID 2002 are divided into two categories. Twelve demonstrations will highlight the search for emerging technologies, and 18 command and control interoperability trials (C2IT) will be conducted as an international interoperability surge operation. Trials push interoperability benchmarks toward greater success, then document techniques, concepts of operations and procedures. C2ITs involve a series of pre-planned activities and pursue innovations during execution.

Technologies explored during JWID must support at least one of the goals described in five capstone statements. For JWID 2002, they are to demonstrate warfighter interoperability between joint and coalition forces; synthesize and present information to decision makers; harness the Global Information Grid with adequate capacity resilience; allow distributive collaborative planning; and support command and control in joint and combined operations.

Demonstrations run the gamut from data-sharing technologies to three-dimensional imagery capabilities. For example, the management of information dissemination to the low-echelon warfighter demonstration uses a combination of government off-the-shelf and commercial technologies to validate a viable means of moving critical combat data down to low-level tactical units located over the horizon. The Tactical System Advanced Time-Critical Target Management Demonstration addresses the need for an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform management capability. It can collect updated imagery, nominate vulnerable targets and pair air-attack assets for strike missions by using the common operational picture on the Global Command and Control System (GCCS)–Maritime. The coalition theater logistics advanced concept technology demonstration offers coordinated multinational systems and decision-support tools for accurate identification of force requirements, improved deployment planning, efficient force sustainment and rapid logistics replanning across the spectrum of military operations.

Col. Bradley explains that the C2IT began in JWID 2000 when the organizers identified a problem and then put a warfighter and a technical person together to see if they could solve it. “In 2000, the return on the investment was phenomenal. What we got were solutions to real problems. The light goes on when you do something successful. C2IT is not just ‘Skunk Works.’ We knew it could be a centerpiece of what we’re doing that gives the warfighter a real solution,” the colonel remarks. During JWID 2000, for example, the team examined the command and control problem in passing complete documents between the U.S. GCCS and its U.K. counterpart. “In the four weeks of JWID, we were able to apply a solution,” he recounts.

Examples of C2IT technologies are the defense collaboration tool suite; systems that provide a common operating picture using multiple sensors and intelligence sources; and collaborative planning approaches that use portals and application sharing to enable coalition partners to present information via the Combined Federated Battle Laboratory Network, which is operated by the English speaking NATO nations to facilitate collaborative research. For instance, the coalition portal for imagery and geospatial services gives the warfighter one-stop access to all information and services on the JWID combined wide area network.

Past JWIDs have featured several technologies that focus on information assurance and the security of the network. This is not the case in 2002. Col. Bradley points out that this is an indication that this year’s demonstration will home in on the key purpose of the event—interoperability. Security is a high priority, and the Defense Information Systems Agency will field a vulnerability assessment team during JWID, the colonel explains; however, events other than JWID examine information security programs.

Although the United States hosts JWID, the event is about more than just the U.S. services and U.S. technologies. International participants will be heavily involved in the demonstrations, which help all the countries get to know each other’s capabilities as well as their personnel and processes.

Lt. Cmdr. Michael G. Ward, USN, operations officer, JWID Joint Project Office, emphasizes that this is one of the strengths of the event. “JWID is a much larger animal than just the United States. It gives many NATO countries the opportunity to work outside their sphere of influence. The NATO staff can interact with others, and we’re trying to bring in new countries as well. This gives us the opportunity to interact with nations we haven’t had the chance to interact with in the past,” Cmdr. Ward relates.

This year’s JWID coalition partners include Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, NATO, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom. Participants will be located at 10 sites worldwide and will work with each other through a multinational secure combined wide area network.

During JWID 00-01, Poland was brought in as a new participant; in 2002, Japan and Korea are being added to the event. The demonstration allows each country to examine technical interoperability issues as well as influences near- and long-term procurement activities in these nations early in the acquisition process, Cmdr. Ward explains. In addition to examining U.S. technologies, individual countries bring their own products to the demonstration.

Capabilities are examined in the context of a fictional scenario that is designed by the host CINC. This year, a coalition task force (CTF) will operate on a mission set deep in the Pacific Ocean area and center on the fictitious island of Tindoro. As the result of a turbulent political history, the island is divided. In the north, the country of Samagaland has created a province that is politically and economically attached to the mainland. South Tindoro, which controls the Fingal enclave within North Tindoro, is an independent nation. It enjoys friendly relations with Rabenneste, a country located to the west of Samagaland. Gibsonia and Kaktaria, two additional nations also located west of Samagaland, support the efforts of Samagaland.

As the demonstration begins, years of strife between the different factions on the island have destabilized the region to the point of requiring intervention from the United Nations (U.N.). New Zealand, which is friendly toward South Tindoro, will play host to the U.N.-mandated CTF and provide intermediate support bases.

The scenario’s conflict lasts more than 220 days. The script categorizes the operations into five distinct phases, which take a peacekeeping operation with enforcement ramifications from beginning through execution, from insertion of the force to transition to a stable peacekeeping operation.

To facilitate the role-play of the coalition task force, the CINC will deploy the Joint Task Force Web site developed under the USPACOM Joint Mission Force Concept. The site formalizes knowledge management requirements to assist CTF staff officers in maintaining situational awareness.

In the past, the fictitious scenarios have been built around the geographic areas of the east and west coasts of the United States. However, Col. Bradley explains that the host CINC chooses the physical description of the location, so this year’s setting more accurately reflects what is occurring in USPACOM’s area of operations. “There is a great similarity between this scenario and the warfighting realities of today,” he relates. Cmdr. Ward adds that the designated setting improves a command’s ability to examine the capabilities that it brings to a mission.

This is the first JWID that Maj. Dwayne K. Cannion, USMC, joint systems engineering, JWID Joint Project Office, will participate in, and he agrees that even in the planning stages one obvious benefit of JWID is the opportunity to interact. “What is important is that the military people work with the engineers, and these two don’t generally have the chance to work together. I like what I see here because I can sit down with people and hash out problems. It’s attractive to industry because they can interact with the military,” Maj. Cannion offers.

Interoperability has been a challenge the services have been struggling with for some time, and Col. Bradley points out that problems within the U.S. military are not very different from those experienced by or with our allies. Several initiatives have been established that were designed to solve the interoperability difficulties; however, because each service has its own funding and individual systems, the problem persists. “This highlights the increased value of JWID,” the colonel contends. One goal of the demonstration is to find solutions to similar interoperability problems and produce a template to address them, he adds.

“Nobody has reached the ultimate solution of what JWID needs to be. We have yet to truly define the true value of JWID,” Col. Bradley concludes.


Additional information on the Joint Warrior Interoperability Demonstration 2002 is available on the World Wide Web at