More Countries Work to Improve Interoperation
Technology trials focus on communications and the warfighter.
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.
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
As the 2007 Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration (CWID) was being executed from May 29 to June 22, NATO operated several concurrent trials in
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,
In the scenario, a conflict occurs on
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
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
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
|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.|
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
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,
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
Another coalition partner, the Joint Information and Intelligence Fusion Capability Detachment (JIIFC Det), participated in CWID at a
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.
Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration 2007: www.cwid.js.mil
Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command: www.spawar.navy.mil