Interoperability Challenges Face European Allies

January 2001
By Robert K. Ackerman
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Bits & Bytes—Satisfying the Essential C4ISR, Training and Simulation Needs of the Atlantic Alliance and its European Defense and Security Initiative” was the theme of this year’s TechNet Europe held in the Prague Congress Center on October 18-20, 2000.

More than 550 delegates from 36 countries, including all of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member countries as well as a great number of Partnership for Peace (PfP) countries, attended the Czech Republic event. Representatives from Japan, Singapore, Australia and the United Arab Emirates participated as well. They discussed the future NATO needs for modern command, control, consultation, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems as well as the need for joint training, modeling and simulation programs for coalition and peace support operations.

Parallel to the symposium, 34 companies from Europe and the United States presented technical solutions at the exhibition, which was formally opened by Maj. Gen. Heinz-Peter Dicks, GEAF, general manager of the NATO Consultation, Command and Control (C3) Agency, Brussels, Belgium.

The symposium was formally opened by Lt. Gen. Frantisek Padelek, CZA, first deputy to the chief of general staff of the armed forces of the Czech Republic. In welcoming the delegates to Prague, he proudly reminded them that the Czech Republic has been a full NATO member for one-and-a-half years and has proved its ability to integrate its forces into the new NATO structure and participate in peacekeeping operations under NATO command.

The keynote address was given by Dr. Petr Necas, chairman of the Defense and Security Committee of the Czech Republic Chamber of Deputies. He emphasized that the Czech Republic had joined the Atlantic alliance because it shared the same values and aims with the free nations and also faced the same threat. It therefore wished to assume its share of responsibility with the free NATO member nations.

He noted that a number of shortcomings within Czech forces had been identified last year. These occurred not so much in the field of equipment and weapon systems but more in the area of human resources such as preparing people for new tasks in a new environment. The Czech Republic clearly supported the Kosovo intervention because the security interests of NATO members were threatened in that region. Missions comparable with the operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo—such as the prevention of conflicts, stabilization of an area, and separation of fighting parties—would continue to play a strong role.

Necas concluded that, besides peacekeeping operations, the fundamental and primary task of the alliance must continue to be the collective defense of the treaty territory. Another important challenge for the alliance was its relationship with the evolving European security and defense identity, which must not result in a weakening of trans-Atlantic links. He also believes that the alliance should continue to enlarge to avoid a new artificial division of Europe.

The first session was chaired by Brig. Gen. Hans H. Schulz, GEA, deputy controller, NATO Communications and Information Systems Operating Systems Agency, who spoke about “Lessons Learned From the Current CIS Operations—KFOR/SFOR.” Col. L.L.G. van den Hurk, RNLAF, ex-commandant of the NATO Communications and Information Systems School Latina, discussed the importance of this school in the future. Gen. Dicks then gave an overview of the NATO C3 Agency with a strong view on modern planning and procurement of communications and information systems.

The second session was chaired by Cdre. Patrick J. Tyrrell, RN, OBE, deputy chief executive, U.K. Defence Communications Services Agency (DCSA). His boss, Maj. Gen. Anthony Raper, CBE, British Army, demonstrated that a quiet revolution has occurred in the United Kingdom over the past two years since the DCSA was formed. Its original purpose primarily was to take responsibility for fixed defense telecommunications within the United Kingdom, but this mission evolved into migrating the separate services’ owned and operated networks into the DCSA (SIGNAL, January 2001, page 35). A key factor had been to encourage its customers to choose from the services the agency offers rather than specifying a particular solution. This migration from system provision to service provision was at the heart of the revolution.

The first day concluded with a keynote address given by Kenneth Watson, Cisco Systems Incorporated, United States, on “Protecting Mission Critical Infrastructures.”

The second day opened with a fireworks of visions on “Revolution in Military Affairs” presented by Lt. Gen. Albert J. Edmonds, USAF (Ret.), now president of the Electronic Data Systems government global industry group, United States. He was supported by Daniel Wengelin, Saab Tech Systems AB, Sweden, who focused on the topic “Information Technology Spurs Revolution in Military Affairs,” and by Maj. Vasile Paun, Ministry of Defense, Romania, who presented a Romanian view on how to close the gap in the revolution in military affairs.

The subsequent session dealt with network interoperability. Its focus was “Operation and Management of an Interoperable Multinational Network” as practiced during the U.S. European Command-sponsored PfP exercise combined endeavor. This exercise was planned and executed to identify and document communications and information systems interoperability between NATO and PfP nations’ strategic and tactical communications systems.

The day’s final session, chaired by Cdre. Robert Howell, RN (Ret.), addressed the issue of “Situation and Information Assessment.” Panelists included Col. Andrew Borden, USAF (Ret.), DRH Consulting, United States, and Klas Wallenius, Saab Tech Systems AB, Sweden.

Rear Adm. William Williamson, USN (Ret.), executive director business strategy, Microsoft Corporation, United States, closed the day with a special presentation, “The Quest for Robust Commercial Off-the-Shelf C2 Solutions.” This presentation asked the question, “What if we dot-com the C2 systems?” Much like the Internet’s capability to push, pull, search and retrieve information, military operators need access to information without regard to where the data came from, how it got there, or who owns it. Adm. Williamson raised the issue of whether present bottlenecks could be eliminated through technology to enable the sharing of data throughout command and control architectures including those of key Western allies. He concluded that the answer was clearly yes, but only if the architecture were integrated horizontally from sensor to shooter and from shooter to commander. He also warned that greater openness internally and externally required a more sophisticated and holistic approach to data and system security.

The final day opened with a special presentation by Brig. Gen. Dr. Carlo Finizio, ITAF, chief, Department for Science, Technology, Economy and Industrial Policy, Military Center for Strategic Studies, Italy. His speech was titled “The Environmental Control in the New Crisis Scenario.”

Two sessions followed his presentation. The first, “Training, Modeling and Simulation,” was chaired by Eugene Gay, corporate vice president, strategies group, SAIC, United States. One speaker, Dr. Paul Barr, The MITRE Corporation, United States, discussed “Software Architecture Development Modeling.” His talk was supplemented by Dr. Hans-Peter Menzler, Armed Forces Technical Test Center for Communications and Electronics, Germany, who showed a way to optimize the acquisition cycle by using simulation techniques. The session closed with a more theoretical presentation titled “Some Aspects of Multi-Convoy Redeployment Modeling and Simulation,” by Zbigniew Tarapata, Military University of Technology, Poland.

The final session, chaired by Lt. Col. Eberhard Mueller-von der Bank, GEA (Ret.), regional vice president, AFCEA Europe, covered the subject of information assurance with four presentations addressing the issue from both the theoretical and the practical sides.

The general manager of AFCEA Europe, Rear Adm. Dr. Sigurd Hess, GE N (Ret.), closed the symposium by thanking all speakers and bidding a farewell to the audience, as this was his last TechNet Europe meeting as the general manager of AFCEA Europe. He then introduced his successor, Cdre. Robert Howell, RN (Ret.), and wished him and AFCEA Europe good luck for the future.

The proceedings of the symposium, information on exhibitors, and other useful information were published on a CD, and a copy was given to each participant.