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Demonstration Tackles New Challenges

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security went on a shakedown cruise in the military world with its inaugural participation in the Joint Warrior Interoperability Demonstration this summer. Department personnel discovered how useful the event can be to explore new technologies, while military personnel gained greater insight into homeland security needs and how to support U.S. emergency operations. Many lessons were learned by military and homeland security participants alike in areas that reached beyond technology.

An operator of the Roaming Emergency Communications Network (RECON), one of approximately 70 coalition interoperability trials at Joint Warrior Interoperability Demonstration 2004 (JWID 2004), checks the display at Defense Information Systems Agency’s Eagle site in Falls Church, Virginia. RECON provides portable broadband wireless communications for various applications using an array of client devices.
Organizers are nearly overwhelmed by interest in interoperability event.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security went on a shakedown cruise in the military world with its inaugural participation in the Joint Warrior Interoperability Demonstration this summer. Department personnel discovered how useful the event can be to explore new technologies, while military personnel gained greater insight into homeland security needs and how to support U.S. emergency operations. Many lessons were learned by military and homeland security participants alike in areas that reached beyond technology.

Since its inception, the Joint Warrior Interoperability Demonstration (JWID) has addressed the interoperability challenges the services must overcome during joint military operations. As the event evolved and other nations began participating, new problems were addressed that included interoperability issues among coalition members. However, with U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM), Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, taking the lead command position this year, the focus broadened yet again to include homeland security and defense issues. For the second consecutive year, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) served as the executive agent of the event, which is sponsored by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Despite the focus on homeland security and defense, JWID 2004 was very much a multinational event. Among the participating countries were Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Korea, several NATO and NATO Partnership for Peace nations.

The JWID 2004 scenarios allowed participants to examine technologies that would facilitate communications important to homeland defense and essential during a national emergency. The multinational task force (MTF) scenario involved a fictitious region experiencing ethnic tensions and oil reserves disputes. The region also supported terrorist training. Two hostile notional nations, Caroline and Maykan, were threatening to invade the friendly notional countries of Lumbia and Tallobland. Caroline and Maykan also were involved in the planning, support and execution of unconventional attacks inside the continental United States. The scenario was the setting for an 11-day conflict.

Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (r), director of command, control, communications and computer systems (J-6), the Joint Staff, is briefed by Lt. Terry Lewis, USN, about RECON. JWID organizers say the event drew many high-ranking military and U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials, and organizers anticipate increased interest next year.
Simultaneously, the scenario for NORTHCOM and local, state and federal agencies involved responding to terrorist attacks within the United States that were tied to the MTF events. The homeland defense threats included a radioactive dispersal device detonated by a terrorist in Detroit; credible threats in the national capital region; critical infrastructure protection issues in the national capital region, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Michigan; border concerns in Texas and Michigan; intelligence threats; and diverse maritime events involving vessels of interest.

Operating within these frameworks, JWID 2004 participants examined approximately 70 technology trials that included capabilities in the areas of information sharing, security, disaster management, emergency communications, and command and control.

Coordinated operations took place over the Combined Federated Battle Laboratories Network (CFBLNet), itself the product of a previous JWID. As the host command, NORTHCOM required three major network domains. The CFBL Warfighter domain was the traditional JWID network. The Military Assistance to Civilian Authorities (MACA) domain served as the network for homeland security. Finally, a set of national domains acted as the secret network for various countries.

Lt. Col. Herman Jett, USAF, director, JWID, DISA, relates that this year’s event featured some surprises and helped reveal areas that require attention as the military and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) learn how to work together.

Once the event began, it became clear immediately that concepts of operations (CONOPs) had to be established as the participants examined the technologies. Col. Jett says these were put into place quickly and will be a baseline—and only a baseline—for future JWID work. These CONOPs also could be helpful in real-world operations.

“We worked on establishing some basic guidelines and created what we needed as we went along. You don’t know what you don’t know, so we identified requirements and developed CONOPs. We asked the questions, ‘How are we going to coordinate this work between the military and government? How are we going to share information? As the threat level changes from yellow to orange to red, how does it affect how we share information?’” the colonel explains.

One goal of JWID 2004 was to identify capabilities that could be put into the field within 12 months of the end of the event. Col. Jett says he was surprised by how far along some of the trial technologies were in terms of development. Some of them already have been fielded on a limited basis, he admits, but evaluation at JWID 2004 will help expand the fielding of these capabilities. The same solutions will not be allowed to be part of JWID 2005 unless significant advances or changes have occurred during the next year, he explains.

The colonel notes that the demonstration revealed another problem the military must address: policy issues. “The technologies are out there. It’s a matter of policy issues that must be resolved. They can be what gets in the way of getting all the benefits from technology. For example, in information sharing, the technology is outpacing the policy. Industry is driving us with capabilities, and we’re going to have to develop the policy,” Col. Jett notes. Policy for wireless capabilities needs to be developed soon, he adds.

DHS personnel came into the event with the goal of developing technical capabilities, the colonel explains. “At the beginning, they were a little apprehensive about what JWID was and how they could participate and learn from it. But once they saw it, they jumped in with both feet. The on-site participants started bringing in other DHS people and were very enthusiastic,” he says.

The department’s involvement in the event also benefited the military, he adds. Input from homeland security personnel supported tactical situational awareness while playing out the scenarios.

Maj. Gen. Dale Meyerrose, USAF (standing center), director of architectures and integration, U.S. Northern Command, is briefed in the Military Assistance to Civil Authorities network room at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren, Virginia. Dahlgren was the JWID 2004 host site for the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps.
JWID allowed DHS participants to see innovative technologies offered by small companies. The colonel explains that, for homeland security and military personnel alike, this is important because often they are seeking solutions that large companies do not offer, yet they do not have the opportunity to see the range of innovations the entrepreneurial sector is developing. “Sometimes, the guy working on an invention in his garage has just the solution you’re looking for,” Col. Jett points out.

The colonel described several technologies that he felt could benefit NORTHCOM, DHS and other organizations. For example, collaborative tools facilitated information sharing among people at different levels of the organizations. In addition, one system allowed participants to find and track other participants on the network so they could be called upon to collaborate.

Participants from other nations were impressed by the increased number of trials and players this year, Col. Jett says, and JWID’s multinational element highlighted a new requirement. “We identified the need for a scalable network that can be adjusted based on the number and configuration of participants and also so a few nations can collaborate or share information with each other without sharing it with everyone in the coalition. We need this capability primarily because of bilateral agreements, and we need to be able to make this adjustment quickly,” he explains.

Cmdr. Brian Dunn, USCG, headquarters operational integration staff, DHS, led DHS’ participation in JWID 2004. He admits that he was unsure about how the department would fit into the demonstration, but as soon as the event began, he realized the benefits of participation.

One of the biggest challenges in homeland security and defense is sharing information in real time with the people who need it, Cmdr. Dunn says. At times, it may be necessary to share valuable classified information with law enforcement and emergency personnel who do not have security clearances. “At JWID, we looked at technologies that can do this. These capabilities would help ensure we were not passing information inappropriately but that we are getting the information out there. Based on the technologies I saw, they are relatively mature systems that could be fielded within 12 months,” Cmdr. Dunn relates.

The commander points out that the first interoperability challenge for both the military and DHS is developing a common operational picture. Technologies enable the gathering of a lot of data, but it all must be pulled together into that picture, he says.

Cmdr. Dunn agrees with Col. Jett that CONOPs and policy are two of the primary issues that still need to be addressed. “We have to reach out and communicate at all levels between the U.S. Defense Department and DHS and between state, local and tribal governments. This is not just about interoperability. We need the CONOPs and policy. Processes like JWID are bringing these challenges to the forefront,” the commander says.

Several of the capabilities demonstrated at JWID caught the commander’s eye. He was impressed with the geospatial information systems that are used to produce map overlays and provide decision makers with area of operations situational awareness. Data also helped DHS personnel understand how specific actions would affect the people who live and work in an area.

Because this was the first time DHS was involved in JWID, the commander allows that DHS had to spend time and energy establishing itself in the demonstration. “The DOD-DHS interface is one thing that is going to keep growing and changing. We established links during JWID that we can push up the chain of command,” he says. The department now has a better understanding of JWID’s purpose and is looking at other military exercises and activities to determine whether other learning opportunities exist, he adds.

Cmdr. Dunn and Col. Jett concur that lessons learned this year will be incorporated into JWID 2005. The colonel says the JWID planning team will have to determine how to improve the management of resources and to create greater efficiencies. He points out that two MACA networks are needed to meet the needs of participants—one for the international community and the other for the U.S. military.

In addition, planners will examine how to facilitate international interagency communications and collaboration. For example, the U.S. organizations need to know how the country’s threat-level designation system affects agencies in other nations. Countries in Europe, for instance, have had more experience in addressing this issue, and the United States can learn from them, he adds.

Cmdr. Dunn believes that the success of this year’s event will persuade the department’s leaders to increase its involvement in JWID 2005. He says he will recommend that DHS propose technology trials that it would like to see demonstrated next year and designate the appropriate personnel to evaluate them.

One unanticipated problem JWID organizers had to solve this year was a purely practical one. The event drew so much attention and was such a big success that some facilities did not have enough space or personnel to assist visitors from both the Defense Department and DHS who wanted to tour the facilities during the event. Col. Jett allows that this is a good problem to have, but it is still a problem. Planners will take this into consideration as they make arrangements for next year’s event, he says.


Web Resources
Joint Warrior Interoperability Demonstration:
Defense Information Systems Agency: www.disa.mil
Department of Homeland Security: www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/display?theme=37
U.S. Northern Command: www.northcom.mil