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Nations Strive for 

May 1, 2013
By Max Cacas

A military exercise designed to refine and improve the way coalition partners share vital information will, for the first time, include the network that is supporting troops in Afghanistan. Scheduled to take place in Poland next month, the event will feature military command and control communications experts from NATO, partner organizations and nations who share the goal of rigorously testing communications interoperability among coalition members. But one of the largest of those partners, the United States, is not taking a leading role in one of the newest, and most challenging areas, cybersecurity.

The Coalition Warrior Interoperability Exploration, Experimentation and Examination Exercise (CWIX) is held annually by NATO’s Military Committee and overseen by NATO’s office of Allied Command Transformation (ACT) based in Norfolk, Virginia. This year’s exercise will take place June 3 to 20, with its primary execution site at the Joint Forces Training Center in Bydgosczc, Poland.

Does the Joint Information Environment 
Help or Hinder Coalition Interoperability?

May 1, 2013
By Kent R. Schneider

Coalition interoperability has received a good deal of focus during the past few years. The Afghan Mission Network (AMN) has given many hope that a repeatable solution for coalition operations could be developed that would allow rapid deployment of a coalition-compatible network for future conflicts. The Future Mission Network (FMN) is envisioned to allow coalition partners to plug into a standards-compliant network with the functionality and security needed to support complex operations.

Recently, in discussions on the U.S. Defense Department initiative to develop a common operating environment referred to as the Joint Information Environment, or JIE, I began to consider whether the creation of such a common environment for the department would help move toward agile and effective coalition information sharing, or would put more distance between the U.S. military and its partners.

The conclusion I have reached is that the JIE could help or hinder coalition efforts, depending on how the JIE architecture is coordinated and whether it is kept on a path parallel to the FMN. It is important to remember that coalition information sharing today is more than just how the United States works with its foreign allies. Anywhere on the mission spectrum, the Defense Department must work with a wide range of U.S. federal agencies, industry partners and, sometimes, state, local and tribal agencies, as well as with international partners.

This means the legacy architectures, direction and needs of this extremely diverse set of players must be considered at every step of the development of the JIE. And, it is imperative to keep the development of the JIE and the development of the FMN coordinated every step of the way. Failure to do this will make it more difficult, not easier, to work with interagency partners and coalition partners.

Cobham to Supply Counter-IED Systems to NATO

March 15, 2013
George I. Seffers

Cobham, Wimborne, United Kingdom, has been awarded a £16 million ($24 million) order to supply NATO forces with leading-edge vehicle mounted Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detection equipment. These systems will be delivered in 2013 by Cobham Antenna Systems. Cobham will deliver enhanced counter-IED detection capabilities, which can be safely deployed from within the protection of mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles.

NATO Addresses Its Info-Centric Future

January 1, 2013

Challenges and solutions abound as the alliance puts its reorganization to the test.

The recent reorganization of NATO’s information organization represents the leading edge of a series of new approaches toward operations and procurement by the 63-year-old alliance. At the heart of this effort is NATO’s “smart defense” initiative, which seeks to do more with less. By design, it must involve industry and cooperative efforts early in the development of any program.

New technologies and capabilities highlight NATO’s latest thrust into information-centric operations, as the alliance has consolidated development, procurement and management functions into its NATO Communications and Information Agency, or NCIA. This agency is tasked with leading NATO into a future dominated by mobile communications, cloud computing and big data.

The gains envisioned by this reorganization and the smart defense initiative could be tempered by a number of traditional and new threats. As NATO moves into the cloud and relies on big data, the cyberthreat becomes more dangerous and a greater obstacle to be overcome, for example.

These and other points were discussed at TechNet International 2012, held in Rome, Italy, October 23-25. Organized under the auspices of the Italian Ministry of Defense, the event was held in partnership by the NCIA and AFCEA Europe and included the NCIA Industry Conference. Titled “Creating Tomorrow’s C4ISR: Partnership–Imagination–Innovation,” the conference featured leaders from NATO, nations’ militaries and industry who offered candid assessments of the challenges and opportunities that are defining NATO’s new approach to command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR).

Technology and the Warfighter Come
 Together in NATO

September 1, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman
  A Polish soldier serving with the International Security Assistance Force maintains radio contact while on patrol in Afghanistan. The creation of the new NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency consolidates several legacy agencies into a single organization with the goal of speeding new technologies to the warfighter faster.

The absorption of several NATO agencies into a single entity, coupled with the need to reform the acquisition of information systems, is clearing the way for the Atlantic alliance to speed the newest information technologies to warfighters far more quickly than previously attainable. The new entity will serve all aspects of communications and information technology development and acquisition under a single umbrella organization.

With all these eggs in one basket, NATO aims to eliminate redundancy and bottlenecks. The goal is to ensure that NATO forces receive the newest technologies without seeing their systems approach obsolescence before fielding is completed. Efficiencies inherent in the new construct also would save valuable funds as defense budgets worldwide face significant cuts from financial pressures.

Dutch Navy Sails 
Into New Era,
 New Challenges

September 1, 2012
By Max Cacas
The Holland features the I-Mast 400 from Thales Nederland, a new comminications mast that can be built modularly, saving time and money in the shipyard. The 52-ton, 370-foot radio mast also is designed so that most equipment maintenance can be conducted inside the mast structure, reducing the number of crew needed for this work.  

The Dutch Navy is building a new class of oceangoing patrol vessels designed to meet the range of missions expected in the decades ahead. These concerns include illicit trafficking, drug smuggling, human trafficking, weapons smuggling and piracy.

The first of the four ships in the Holland class, the HNLMS Holland, was commissioned in July 2012. The ship requires only 50 crew members, has a weight of 357 tons—enabling operations in the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean, and has space for a pair of Fast Raiding Interception and Special Forces Craft (FRISC) and an NH-90 helicopter. It also has enough room onboard to support noncombatant humanitarian operations when needed.

Prior to the development of the Holland class of ships, the Dutch naval fleet was composed primarily of destroyers, frigates, submarines and a range of support vessels designed primarily for fleet-to-fleet combat.

NATO Support Agency 
Continues Evolution

September 1, 2012
By George I. Seffers

NATO recently consolidated three support and acquisition agencies into one to create effectiveness, improve efficiencies and increase savings. The organization will continue to evolve as the NATO mission transforms, including changes expected following the withdrawal from the war zone in Afghanistan.

The NATO Support Agency (NSPA), Capellen, Luxembourg, was officially established on July 1 under the leadership of Rear Adm. Michael Lyden, USN, (Ret.), who will serve as the general manager. The NSPA combines three previous organizations, the NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency, the NATO Airlift Management Agency and the Central Europe Pipeline Management Agency. The NSPA is a fully customer-funded organization, operating on a no-profit/no-loss basis. It focuses on providing integrated multinational support solutions for its stakeholders.

The support agency’s written mission is to provide responsive, effective and cost-efficient logistics support services for systems and operations. It is designed to provide needed assistance in times of peace, crisis and war to the NATO member nations, the NATO military authorities and partner nations, both individually and collectively. It also aims to maximize the ability and flexibility of armed forces, contingents and other relevant organizations to execute their core missions.

Among other tasks, the mission includes in-service support of weapons systems, as well as communications and electronics systems. “We do operational logistics and real-life support, like running some of the base functions in Afghanistan. We do fuel work. We do airlift. A big piece of our mission is geared toward the current mission in Afghanistan,” Adm. Lyden says.

Raytheon to Provide Multi-Spectral Targeting Systems

August 6, 2012
By George Seffers

Raytheon Company, McKinney, Texas, is being awarded a $23,933,208 firm-fixed-price contract for 24 multi-spectral targeting systems. The system is an airborne, electro-optic, forward-looking infra-red, turreted sensor package that provides long-range surveillance, high-altitude target acquisition, tracking, range-finding, and laser designation, and for all tri-service and NATO laser guided munitions. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane, Indiana, is the contracting activity.

Shepro To Wear Multi Hats for NATO/ACC

May 3, 2012
By Beverly Schaeffer

Brig. Gen. Steven M. Shepro, USAF, has been assigned commanding general, NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan, NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan/Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, and commander, 438th Air Expeditionary Wing, Air Combat Command, Kabul, Afghanistan.


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