Collaboration central

Soldiers keep track of the Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration in the command room at Dahlgren, Va.

GCN Photo by Rick Steele

DAHLGREN, Va.'Inside the Coalition Task Force Command, Marine Corps Col. Tim Cassidy is preparing to brief commanders on the latest developments in Southeast Africa.

On a widescreen monitor hooked up to the Combined Federated Battle Laboratories Network, which meshes homeland defense and coalition operations into a single, integrated system, Cassidy, a reserve officer in New York, informs commanders of the theoretical threat scenario concocted for a global interoperability exercise.

Down the hall at the Coalition Force Land Component Command, Army Lt. Col. Gary Olson, also a National Guard reservist, and his troops are using the Army Battle Command System, Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data Systems and Multi-sensor Aerospace-ground Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Interoperability Coalition technology in an attempt to keep two foreign forces from attacking an oil-rich country.

The scenarios, all fictional, are part of Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration 2005, a worldwide exercise involving 26 international participants at nearly 30 sites worldwide. International participants include NATO nations such as Canada, Italy and the United Kingdom, plus Australia and New Zealand.

During CWID, the military services and partner organizations test and evaluate a wide range of technologies for interoperability with federal agencies, military services and coalition countries.

'All agencies in government need to talk to each other much better than they've done in the past,' said Air Force Reserve Col. Michael E. Lebiedz, CWID's program director. 'We don't do that very well, otherwise we wouldn't be here conducting this demonstration.'

The annual demonstration has taken place since 1989. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is responsible for planning and oversight of CWID, while the Defense Information Systems Agency manages the day-to-day program operations and engineers the demonstration network.

The Northern Command in Colorado Springs, Colo., served as the U.S. host combatant command for the exercise, which ran June 13 through 24. NORTHCOM's exercise included participation by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the FBI and the Coast Guard.

Other CWID trials were conducted at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Va.; Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego; and Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass.

The theme for this year's exercise was in- teroperability and incorporating aspects of homeland defense and homeland security into traditional and coalition operations.

Some of the technologies, if proven successful, may find themselves on tomorrow's battlefields, Lebiedz added.
'We will take a look at all the assessments from all of the trials,' Lebiedz said. 'If we have a technology here that will fill a gap, we will see if we can't get that fielded.'

Military services as well as commercial vendors developed the technologies DOD was evaluating.

Past CWID demonstrations, formerly called Joint Warrior Interoperability Demonstration, proved that technologies such as the Common Operational Picture, asynchronous transfer mode, Global Broadcasting System and multilevel security, worked.

Real-world training

'The war fight is not what's important here,' explained Olson from the floor of the Coalition Force Land Component Command trial he headed up in Dahlgren. 'What's important here is the trials. Our soldiers are getting real-world training.'

On the grounds at Dahlgren, military personnel tested everything from the Incident Commanders' Radio Interface, a tactical radio interface that provides voice interoperability among incompatible radio and communications equipment, to an automated casualty care battlefield program called the Tactical Medical Coordination System. TacMedCS works with radio frequency identification tags, allowing medics to use handheld scanners to record tag information and details on an injured person's status.

Outside the makeshift battle commands, a trailer housing Fort Monmouth, N.J.'s First Responder Communication and Tracking system hosts tests of the Hot Zone Operations System, wearable communications technology, and a first-responder robot named Hazbot.

The First Responder Communication and Tracking System, which the Army developed in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, features the mobile trailer command center equipped with remote monitoring, command and control capabilities, and an ad hoc mobile wireless digital network.
'First responders can send all of their GPS data to our Hot Zone Operations System,' said Vikas Gumber, who works in the Army Materiel Science Research and Development division at Fort Monmouth. 'You see all of his positions, not just line-of-sight, but non-line-of-sight.'

'This is all hosted at a command-and-control trailer,' Gumber explained.
By next June, DOD will decide which technologies are viable for the field.

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