"Space kits" will help transform Army training for the 21st century
November 22, 2013
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Modern Army operations require space capabilities across all warfighting functions -- mission command, movement and maneuver, intelligence, protection, fires, and sustainment -- in all operational environments -- normal, enhanced, and contested -- down to the lowest echelons.
Recognizing that the Army has transitioned from a space-enabled force to a highly space-dependent force, the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command's G-33 Training, Readiness, and Exercises Division and the Future Warfare Center Battle Lab are working together to improve space training across the force. Together they are developing and operationalizing a series of three space training kits.
The first kit addresses the normal operational environment. It includes a set of five Android tablets loaded with unclassified space applications and other space knowledge resources. These "iSpace" applications, developed in collaboration with Air Force Space Command, provide current and relevant space information such as GPS-accuracy and optimum look angles to satellites.
Space professionals and enablers at operational headquarters will be able to use the tablets for Warfighter education and training, and can employ them for operational planning and mission execution purposes. Kit 1, though, will be beneficial for improving space awareness and understanding at all echelons, especially at the brigade and below, where space training is less available.
Kit 2 is the "enhanced capability" package containing the kinds of equipment SMDC can provide to Warfighers that is not standard issue. Currently, Kit 2 includes three experimental sets of gear for enhanced situational awareness and force protection, ideally suited to small units operating in remote locations:
(1) The Global Visualization Information System - provides an encrypted, IP-based, commercial satellite communication-enabled personnel situational awareness system that allows a central hub to track individual users with map overlays, and permits individual users to text message and send picture uploads between components. The Simply Aware application created at the Battle Lab fuses GVIS networked information into a common operational picture;
(2) The Weather Rock - is a ground-based weather sensor that provides wind, humidity, temperature, and lightning detection data through commercial satellite communications to GVIS and the Simply Aware application; and
(3) The Self Powered Ad-Hoc Network - is a web of self-powered sensors (seismic and acoustic detectors) that distinguishes between humans, vehicles and animals. Its data are transmitted via wireless network and commercial satellite communications providing critical force protection alerts to users on the GVIS network.
All of the Kit 2 equipment is commercial-off-the-shelf, unclassified, and can be left behind with coalition partners, foreign nationals, and non-governmental organizations. The 10th Special Forces Group worked with the Battle Lab to define the requirements and test the prototype.
One Special Forces Soldier said that the "subcomponents supplied with the GVIS system proved to be extremely high in quality and methodically tailored to meet mission requirements. Durability and functionality exceeded common program of record quality."
The third kit is designed to simulate contested space operational environments for improved training at home station and at combat training centers. The first phase provides short range, low power GPS jamming and jamming emulation ideal for small unit training sessions.
Kit 3 can create the actual effects of jamming on individual Defense Advanced GPS receivers, for example, and other space-enabled equipment used by Soldiers in the field on a daily basis.
Trainers can review mitigation tactics and techniques with Soldiers and demonstrate the effectiveness of their combat procedures. Phase two will incorporate interference of satellite communications. These training tools and techniques are critical to keeping combat units prepared for modern warfare in contested space operational environments.
Leaders at the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colo., and at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., are taking steps to integrate space training and the space kits into their programs. Also, in early September, representatives from G3 TREX, the Battle Lab, and the Army Space Personnel Development Office visited U.S. Army Africa headquarters in Vicenza, Italy, to brief the commanding general and his staff on the space capabilities available to them, particularly for the security assistance mission.
USARAF's leadership decided to employ Kit 2's situational awareness capabilities, finding them ideally suited to the needs of units down range.
"The GVIS server will be tremendous value added for the mission command of small teams in Africa and, just as importantly, for their force protection," said Col. Marcus F. De Oliveira, USARAF's assistant chief of staff, G-3/5/7.
According to Col. Eric Handy, G3 TREX division chief, the space kits are beginning to make their mark across the Army.
"The kits and the improved space training they support will provide our Army's Soldiers with critical knowledge of what space does for them and how to mitigate the challenges of a contested space environment, down to the last tactical mile," Handy said.
Through a collaborative effort across many commands and mission areas, the integration and improvement of space training, aided by resources like the space kits, will help ensure Soldiers maintain warfighting excellence for the 21st century.