U.S., Norwegian navies run logistics, comm test

U.S., Norwegian navies run logistics, comm test

By Tony Lee Orr

GCN Staff

U.S. and Norwegian naval forces last week were on computer-enhanced alert as they worked through the logistics of a joint maritime operation against a fictitious enemy.

For the four-day Joint Endeavor North exercise, the computer simulation posed realistic threats designed to push participants to the brink of war during an exercise running on the Enhanced Naval Wargaming System at Tactical Training Group Atlantic in Dam Neck, Va.

This is the first time the wargaming system has been used to simulate the communications and logistics necessary for coordinating operations with an ally, said Lt. Cmdr. John Kropcho, a staff officer with the 2nd Striking Fleet aboard the USS Mount Whitney.

Aboard USS Mount Whitney, Norwegian Maj. Ketil Hjelset, left, and U.S. Petty Officer 3rd class Heath Renfrom plot data for war game exercises.

Planners worked with system operators and programmers to include lifelike force movement, Kropcho said. The Navy hosts the system, which runs under HP-UX, on a dual-processor Hewlett-Packard J2240 server. The custom database contains representations of all ships and planes that could feasibly take part in such a maneuver, he said.

'We were trying to make it as realistic as possible,' he said.

The system is able to escalate the events in the simulation by incorporating feedback from participants into the computer models.

A U.S. team on the Mount Whitney served as the conduit between the two nations' exercise participants. It tapped into the wargaming system via the Defense Department's Secret IP Router Network and then forwarded the data to the NATO Command and Control System, Kropcho said. 'That's where we get the operations picture.'

The participants all saw the same ship and plane tracking numbers. 'The same pictures are transferred to Norway, so they are able to follow what is happening on a tactical level,' Kropcho said during the simulation exercise.

The information was transferred via NATO's LAN through the NATO Information System Interface, which uses filters to control information dissemination among NATO member countries.

Back in touch

During the Cold War, the United States conducted naval exercises with the Norwegians on a regular basis, Kropcho said. But with the breakup of the Soviet Union, U.S. resources were shifted because the fleet exercises were time-consuming and expensive, he said.

'Typically a carrier battle group would deploy and link up with Norwegian forces for a series of combined exercises,' he said. 'Logistically, we use a lot of voice communications, satellite communications and e-mail systems.'

Many applications commonly deployed on carrier battle groups have been developed in the last decade, he said.

'Carrier battle groups added them into how they did business, but all the interfaces are rusty or have never been used,' Kropcho said. The practice shows command staff what is needed logistically for a smooth joint operation, he said.

And the Norwegians have benefited from the exercise as well, said Sr. Cmdr. Morten Groenningsaeter, the senior Norwegian naval official aboard the Mount Whitney.

Groenningsaeter said he had expected more communications problems because the U.S. military has outpaced NATO in its communications architecture.

NATO is working to close the gap, and the Norwegians saw the exercise as a means of sorting out some of the challenges needed to overcome communications barriers, he said.

'I think that we have had relatively minor technical problems with connectivity on the NATO military message system,' Groenningsaeter said.


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