U.S. Army Conducts Final Cyber Blitz
The exercise grows into multidomain operations.
The U.S. Army’s technology assessment experiment known as Cyber Blitz has grown beyond its cyber roots. Beginning next year, when it will be held in the Indo-Pacific region, the exercise will be known as Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) Live.
Cyber Blitz began in 2016 to help further define how the service adapts operationally to modern threats, including cyber attacks and electromagnetic warfare. During that year’s exercise, the Army tested the cyber-electromagnetic activities (CEMA) cell concept within a brigade combat team and introduced new, yet-to-be-fielded technologies. Part experiment, part exercise, Cyber Blitz allows soldiers to get their hands on cutting-edge technologies and provide feedback on what works, what doesn’t work and what needs improvement.
The experiment has since evolved to the extent that Army officials decided a name change is necessary. “The name Cyber Blitz pigeonholed us into this into the thinking it’s all about cyber. If you’re familiar with Cyber Blitz 19 really it had grown into a multidomain operations experiment. We thought it best to change the name because it better reflects what we’re doing and providing from an experimentation venue,” says Randy Wheeler, associate director for field-based experimentation within the Army Future Command’s Command, Control, Communications, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) Center.
Service officials are in the early planning stages for Multi-Domain Operations 21, but so far they expect it to be held in the July and August timeframe. Rather than being held within the continental United States, next year's experiment will be held in an operational theater and tied to an operational exercise, Defender Pacific. “MDO Live 21 next year will be forward in theater, in the Indo-PACOM [Pacific Command] theater,” Wheeler reports. “MDO Live will pick up the experimentation capability and move it to the PACOM area of responsibility.”
While he cannot yet provide details, Wheeler said MDO Live 21 will focus on technologies of interest to the Indo-Pacific region. Some of those areas of interest—sensor communication architectures, sensor fusion and translation software, cross-domain solutions, identity management and an MDO common operating picture—were in a request for information released several months ago.
Some technologies being assessed in the ongoing Network Modernization Experiment (NetModX) also might be included in MDO Live. The NetModX experiment includes roughly 20 systems focused primarily on command post survivability and mission command resiliency. Key experiments include technologies for hardened waveforms in support of protected communications, protected satellite communications, defensive cyber, command post survivability, and protected communications for the teaming of manned and unmanned vehicles.
The purpose of the request for information is to give industry a chance to showcase solutions that might be included in the exercise. Additional requests for information tied to MDO Live 21 may be forthcoming. “We’ve set up tiger teams within the center to look at different opportunity areas we know we need to focus on for MDO Live. We’re encouraging those tiger teams that if they need to push out another [request for information] for a specific area that they do so. We expect that to happen over the next couple of months,” Wheeler offers.
MDO Live 21 also will have even more an emphasis on joint operations than past Cyber Blitz experiments. “It is more than just cyber. It’s more than just CEMA. It’s definitely pulling in the joint force and joint capabilities and how we integrate those,” Wheeler says. “All of the joint forces are represented, including the new Space Force, as far as our early planning for MDO 21.”
Next year’s experiment also will likely include more soldiers than usual. “You know Cyber Blitz is our center’s preeminent soldier touchpoint for science and technology. That will continue. In the past, you might have seen upwards of 100 soldiers, 150. What we’re envisioning for MDO Live 21 next year is to double or triple that number of soldiers involved,” Wheeler says.
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