More Countries Work to Improve Interoperation

September 2007
By Rita Boland

 
Technologies in the Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration (CWID) undergo one or more trials in three categories: warfighter/ operator, technical/ interoperability and security capabilities. The assessments help developers create tools the warfighters really need and help the military determine which technologies to move to a program of record.
Technology trials focus on communications and the warfighter.

The U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s demonstration designed to enhance interoperability is making greater efforts to improve communications with forces outside of the United States. This year’s Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration involved increased NATO participation as well as trials at locations worldwide. The event host, the U.S. European Command, leveraged its physical location and mission contacts to expand international cooperation. Next year, the command will serve as the host combatant command for the demonstration for the third consecutive year—the first command to three-peat.

As the 2007 Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration (CWID) was being executed from May 29 to June 22, NATO operated several concurrent trials in Norway. The trials ensured that all command, control, communications and computers (C4) technologies interoperate. International partnerships during the event were enhanced by the U.S. European Command’s (EUCOM’s) position as the only U.S. combatant command not headquartered in the United States. It is headquartered in Germany. Cmdr. Gregory F. Stephens, USN, director of EUCOM CWID and the deputy coalition task force commander, says the European site helped lead to the increased international integration. The location and complexity of challenges the command faces require it to interoperate with coalition partners regularly, he explains. Last year, EUCOM requested to host the demonstration for three years instead of the usual two, and Cmdr. Stephens shares that EUCOM will serve as an axis of stability in a dynamic event by retaining the role of host combatant command.

In that role, EUCOM provides a warfighting scenario that showcases all the trial capabilities. The scenario serves as a framework in which events can be added or omitted as necessary. “The key thing about the scenario is it’s the full spectrum of military and civil operations as requested by the participants,” Cmdr. Stephens says. 

Each year the scenario involves events occurring at various global locations. Fictional names are invented for the locations that correspond to a real physical location. For example, Hawaii played the role of the friendly, fictional island nation of Kahuda that agreed to provide basing for interim staging and logistical requirements in the coalition task force (CTF) scenario.

In the scenario, a conflict occurs on Africa’s land mass and the littoral waters under EUCOM’s area of responsibility (actually the Western Continental United States). A U.S.-led CTF and a NATO Reaction Force compose the friendly forces. The action begins when a pre-existent, moderate-size Terrizona Stabilization Force (TSF) conducts stabilization operations in one nation and regional unrest escalates to a regional multinational insurgency, cross-border invasion and mid-intensity conflict. Coalition forces deploy to reinstate regional stability in the midst of destabilization, humanitarian crisis and hostilities. Several specific missions and actions also are delineated.

CWID included a homeland security/ homeland defense (HS/HD) segment as well. That scenario supports interest in technologies that assist in the Global War on Terrorism and is loosely connected to the CTF scenario. In the HS/HD scene, a series of disaster vignettes occurs in the U.S. Northern Command’s (NORTHCOM’s) area of responsibility. The vignettes focus on areas of interest to CWID participants, including northwest support for Canada’s plans for the 2010 Olympics. Problems range from natural disasters, chemical releases and fuel spills to cruise missiles being launched at the United States, truck bombs, hostage situations and mass evacuations.

The scenarios provide the background for the technology trials. Though CWID focuses on emerging technologies, it also serves as a venue for development or validation of fielded or near-fielded systems. Each trial technology needed to meet at least one of the six CWID 2007 trial objectives: cross-domain data sharing, integrated intelligence, integrated operations, integrated logistics, integrated planning and integrated communications.

The assessments assist companies in determining how they need to alter their products to serve military needs, ensuring that fielded technologies meet warfighter requirements. Each trial technology had sponsorship from a U.S. agency or coalition government. The technologies receive one or more assessments in the three categories of warfighter/operator, technical/interoperability and security capabilities.

Cmdr. Stephens explains, “At the end of CWID, we want to have accurate assessments of every trial.” Officials also want the assessments clearly and concisely stated and distributed to other combatant commands and anyone else interested in further development of the technologies. In addition to EUCOM and NORTHCOM, many U.S. and coalition agencies participate in CWID. The U.S. Joint Forces Command is responsible for CWID oversight on behalf of the chairman. The Defense Information Systems Agency engineers a global network for the demonstration with assessment nodes at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, Dahlgren, Virginia (U.S. Marine Corps and Army site); Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), San Diego (U.S. Navy site); Electronic Systems Center, Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts (U.S. Air Force site); and EUCOM and NORTHCOM. New for the 2007 event was a U.S. site at the Pentagon called the Warfighter Capability Demonstration Center, which provided an interactive window to U.S. trial sites for leaders in the capital region. Coalition partners also contributed 25 additional sites to the temporary isolated network.

 
A U.S. Marine conducts a technology assessment at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, Dahlgren, Virginia, during CWID. The demonstration includes an international scenario and a homeland security/homeland defense scenario.
In addition to U.S. agencies and organizations and NATO, approximately 14 other countries were actively involved in CWID. Five more countries acted as observers at various trials, and two additional nations were Partnership for Peace participants. CWID 2007 included the five perennial partners: Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States and NATO. CWID partners were connected through three enclaves on the Combined Federated Battle Laboratories Network. An unclassified network was used for NORTHCOM’s purposes.

During CWID, participants looked for technologies to meet their specific needs. “We advocate interoperability without advocating favorites,” Cmdr. Stephens notes. “Because EUCOM has 92 nations in our area of responsibility, we are always interested in data flow optimization and in reducing decision processes by using accelerated data flow and reduction of errors in data. This may or may not encompass using cross-domain solutions.”

The commander shares that he is pleased with the capabilities demonstrated at EUCOM and is especially happy that they are user-friendly. He points out that today’s troops need multiple skills and those using the devices might not be dedicated communications personnel. One test of interoperability is how well a technology can be used by an operator with average or below-average skill sets. “Although CWID tends to be sort of a communicator type of focus, … it is really the operators in the field who will benefit most from these types of technologies,” he states.

Cmdr. Stephens emphasizes the importance of CWID as a key to successful interoperability in the future because countries must work in formal and informal coalitions to meet objectives. He believes these partnerships bring greater strength and solutions to contingencies faced by the United States. CWID resolves not only technologies, but also policies.

Capt. Mike Phelps, USNR, Combined Forces Maritime Component commander, CWID 2007 and CWID program manager, SPAWAR reserve program, performed some of the technology assessments at the SPAWAR site. During his work, he found four technologies that especially impressed him, all of which fell under the cross-domain objective. The first technology allows users to establish control of a computer from the other end of a network. “That’s one trial that worked really well,” he says. The second capability enables operators from a higher classification computer to access another lower classification computer. The third provides assured file transfer. It checks for certain words that would prohibit releasability. The fourth technology is a conglomeration of standard commercial capabilities that allows users to have multiple levels of security and certain caveats. If the system knows information is secret, it prohibits the release of the information. “Those four all worked well and would be useful things for the operators to have in the fleet to improve their interoperability while maintaining their ability to transfer information,” Capt. Phelps states.

Officer Chris Escudero, civil commanding officer, Civil Military Operations Center, CWID 2007, who serves with the San Diego Police Department, New Technology Division, also conducted assessments at the SPAWAR site. During his work he too found several technologies that showed promise. However, Escudero also shares the importance of failures that breed unexpected successes. In one trial, a failure to find people in chat rooms became a benefit as users discovered the chat rooms could be used to track people down.

Some trials had unexpected results. Escudero assessed a technology that could send information from a mobile vehicle to a secure location. The technology spanned the CTF demonstration and the HS/HD demonstration by sending information to an intelligence officer at NORTHCOM.

Another trial that performed well at SPAWAR was a mesh network technology that allows networks to scale while consuming minimal bandwidth. Maj. Vince Rice, USAR, warfighter assessor for CWID 2007, 40th Infantry Division, and a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency, assessed the scaling technology and says it has applications to the military, law enforcement, search and rescue and commercial operations such as shipping. The major also is pleased with the performance of a technology that allows users to track a specific telephone and through that a specific person. Currently, officers find a telephone by using a repeater, but the new technology would give more specific results. “This will put us right on top of the guy,” Maj. Rice explains.

Most of the technologies referenced by the SPAWAR assessors fall into the cross-domain category, and Robert Whitney, the SPAWAR CWID lead, says that category seems to do well in CWID. He adds that CWID lacks integrated logistics objective trials that transition to federal business opportunities. “Over the years, I’ve only seen two,” he shares. The problem results from a lack of entries under the logistics heading. Whitney says the objective remains in CWID because commanders, services and coalition partners have need for logistics technology.

To determine whether a technology performs perfectly is not the purpose of CWID, according to Whitney. “It’s a demonstration,” he explains. “[The technology] receives a warfighter assessment.” If an assessor marks that a technology or part of a technology does not function well, developers can return later and obtain another assessment. That information is valuable to the public and private sectors. Some companies enter their trials knowing the technologies have flaws, but they want to have an assessment from actual warfighters and operators before proceeding. “That’s a good use of CWID,” Whitney states. 

Marine Corps assessors at the Dahlgren site agree with Whitney about the importance of having warfighters test technologies, and they also mentioned success with cross-domain solutions. Col. Howard Thomas, USMC, the Marine Corps lead for CWID, says providing the right assessment to the vendors is the major result of CWID, with a secondary effect of developing tactics, techniques and procedures. Col. Thomas believes the continued growth of the demonstration—more Marines participated this year than ever before—produces better results. The colonel explains that work with foreign nationals during CWID has paid off in the real world.

Col. John Giorgio, USMC, Coalition Force Land Component commander, explains that CWID assesses technologies not only for their capabilities, but also for their interoperable practicalities. A New Zealand officer visited the Dahlgren site this year specifically to examine the various information technologies to report to his command.

Another coalition partner, the Joint Information and Intelligence Fusion Capability Detachment (JIIFC Det), participated in CWID at a Canada site. Lt. Alexandre Forest, CF, JIIFC Det, shares that the detachment sponsored four technologies, all of which the lieutenant says performed as promised. One technology transfers large amounts of data quickly and reliably and enhances the transfer of streaming video across domains. Another combines distinct workstations and network connections into a single workstation. Yet another, according to Lt. Forest, “could permit secure remote access, via any Internet-connected PC, and by users issued only the USB [universal serial bus] key.” The secure remote access capability reduces the need for laptops, reduces the amount of information that must be carried on the hard drive and reduces the threat and impact of equipment theft. The final technology is a potential tool to improve the effectiveness of the visual or manual review process. Hidden areas that are currently checked one-by-one can be checked and reported on by this technology.

Lt. Forest does offer a suggestion for improving CWID. “The CWID test environment should be conducted at a fully unclassified level with all classified information and networks being simulated vice actually being classified,” he states. “This would permit a wider scope of technologies to be evaluated with less restriction on their incorporation into the evaluation environment.”

Preparation for CWID 2008 already is underway. Consensus is positive for EUCOM’s continued leadership, and some officials believe all host commands should fill the roll for that amount of time. “Having the host combatant commander, if they can, do it for a third year will only improve and help the program,” Col. Thomas says. He says a three-year cycle is preferred because it allows for a work-up year, a planning year and an execution year, and he suggests the next host could sit in on the execution year run by the preceding host.

The objectives for next year’s CWID already are determined. They are to improve coalition and joint C4 and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance architecture; improve information sharing across the full range of military operations; enhance cross-domain and multiple security level information exchange tools; enhance integrated logistics planning tools; and enhance government agency interoperability.

Web Resources
Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration 2007: www.cwid.js.mil
U.S. European Command: www.eucom.mil
U.S. Northern Command: www.northcom.mil
Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command: www.spawar.navy.mil

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