Move Now to Participate in CWID 2011

May 17, 2010
by Maryann Lawlor, SIGNAL Connections
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Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration (CWID) 2010 may be right around the corner, but for companies that want to be a part of CWID 2011, now is the time to begin. The Federal Business Opportunities for next year’s event will be published in the coming days. Organizations should investigate the objectives and requirements described in the document now and ready their solutions to participate in organizational conferences as well as the 2011 demonstration itself.

Robert Hartling, chair, CWID senior management group, maintains that demonstration organizers have improved the program in several ways during the past few years. They have added performance measures to assess technologies and begun using mission threads to evaluate how well a specific solution enhances mission performance. In addition, the event now includes the Net-Ready-Key Performance Parameters as well as the U.S. Defense Department [DOD] Information Assurance Certification and Accreditation Process to help determine whether or not a technology can make it through the department’s technology maze, Hartling explains.

One of the most recent additions to CWID is the Afghan Mission Network (AMN). As a result of a U.S. Central Command Commander mandate, data from several networks will be merged to support NATO’s International Security Assistance Force mission and improve information sharing and command and control (C2).

“The Afghan Mission Network could well change the way the Defense Department envisions and sets up C2 networks and services in future conflicts. To that end, in our efforts to support the warfighter down to the tactical edge of operations, the AMN may well change our approach to CWID,” Hartling reveals. A prime focus of CWID 2011 could involve technologies that support a multinational network construct and ease the ability to send and receive data at different security levels, he adds.

Past CWID scenarios were designed with fictional flair and mission assignments based on what the organizers perceived as the most likely future threats. However, once lessons learned and other information were accumulated from current operations, the setting and events incorporated these experiences into the demonstration environment, moving to an Afghan-based simulated scenario in 2009. This year’s event features an even stronger link to Afghanistan; the scenario framework was adopted from one of the mission readiness exercises used to prepare staffs for deployment.

Looking toward CWID 2011, Hartling believes companies that plan to participate should focus on tools that enhance network services, cross-enclave data sharing, and multinational security key accreditation and certification because it will take several iterations of development to move the AMN to full operational capability.

“As the Defense Department becomes more reliant on network services at the tactical edge of operations, we will need more diverse and secure paths to bring critical operational and intel info to the folks at the pointy end of the spear. Those would be areas I'd recommend for R&D [research and development] to industry,” he states.

One dark cloud on the Defense Department’s horizon continues to be the talk about decreasing the military’s budget. However, Hartling believes the department will always have some funds to invest in research, development, test and evaluation. Spending will be prioritized so that the most urgent needs across the department’s mission areas will be met, he states.

The demonstration is one way businesses can ensure they’re developing solutions that meet the needs on that priority list. “CWID provides an environment where industry can assess new, emerging or modified technologies against our own and coalition operational standard baselines for technical interoperability and information assurance. CWID will provide the warfighters and government personnel to evaluate the utility of the technology in an operational construct, and the vendor doesn't have to pay for the network, the systems, the warfighters or the assessments,” Hartling explains.

“Industry’s costs include what it takes to get the technology to the sites, set it up, train the warfighters who will use it and provide technical support. Industry could elaborate more on this,” he continues. “Other [financial] factors include how much technical support the technology requires on site and off site, the number of sites where it will be demonstrated, the cost to prepare and develop technology and so on. Vendors must be willing to support the CWID planning process, including participation in conferences and the generation of plan inputs.”