ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- The Armies for the United States and South Korea demonstrated how nations can work together to enable interoperability and share the spectrum management process during a demonstration here July 18.

The U.S. Army Materiel Command's Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, or CERDEC, and the Republic of Korea's Agency for Defense Development have spent six years collaborating on a Coalition Spectrum Management process that enables spectrum managers to have a complete situational understanding of spectrum requirements and plans within an area of operation.

Much as when two people whispering are drowned out by five people yelling, two radios communicating may be interfered with by other, more powerful radio signals. Spectrum management is the process by which radios are set up to ensure that all radios are able to communicate together, and no radio is yelling louder than expected.

This becomes especially critical when coalition partners are involved, said Yuriy Posherstnik, Coalition Spectrum Management technical project officer for the CERDEC Space and Terrestrial Communications Directorate.

In an effort to decrease or eliminate interference within the electromagnetic spectrum, which is the possible range of radio frequencies, spectrum managers use various capabilities. Historically, nations developed their own tools and did not have the ability to easily deconflict with other nations on who could use which frequencies.

Currently, U.S. spectrum managers rely on a lengthy paper and pencil process to request frequency assignments from the nation in which they operate, or a host nation, and often do not have situational understanding of spectrum requirements of other coalition partners within the same area of operation, Posherstnik said.

The U.S. Army identified the need for increased situational understanding and interoperability with coalition partners.

The inability to efficiently plan and manage spectrum resources because of a lack of interoperability between U.S. and coalition spectrum management software tools led to the U.S./Korea partnership, Posherstnik said.

The two-phase collaboration consisted of addressing the technical aspects of architecting the exchange of data in the first phase and implementing the data exchange between coalition partners' tools in the second phase.

"CERDEC and the Republic of Korea investigated and developed an interoperable message exchange format for force structure, equipment data, frequency requests and frequency assignments," Posherstnik said.

For the second phase, the nations investigated and developed the Coalition Spectrum Management Interoperability effort by implementing the Defense Department and NATO-compliant Standard Spectrum Resource Format Pub 8 data exchange format. This allowed the U.S. and Korea to exchange their network plans by exporting the plan in the Defense Department-approved XML format and providing an interoperability mechanism to exchange spectrum data between the U.S. and Korea's spectrum tools, Posherstnik said.

Components of creating coalition interoperability included generating data mapping displays, developing import/export functionality into each nations' spectrum management tool, developing a modular and tool-agnostic data translation application programming interface, implementing operational scenarios, and demonstrating the capability to then import and export operational scenarios between the two nations.

"The project is good for us to develop and enhance our spectrum management. The technology we developed during this effort could be applied to a tactical communications network," said Jaehyun Ham, Coalition Spectrum Management technical project manager, 2nd R&D institute, ADD.

One goal of the distinguished visitors' day was to demonstrate the coalition spectrum management interoperability to representatives from other Coalition partners in order to see how their nations might fit into or leverage this NATO-compliant concept.

"We go into countries and have to coordinate with the host nation, and planning can be complicated. The future amounts of data that we will need to coordinate frequencies is large, and the collaborative effort we saw today is useful and will help," said Roland Sheffer, German Foreign Liaison Officer who attended the demonstration day. "It's not only the military demand that we cope with but the civilian demand is even larger than ours. To find the gaps and make sure we don't interfere with the average daily life in the country we go to is really important."

As coalition partners continue to do more work together in the same geographic regions, interoperability of technologies and tools can prove beneficial to multiple nations.

"One of the big advantages of international collaboration is we can work on similar problems, solve them in a common way with less resources and more elegant solutions that we would have otherwise working separately," said David Waring, CERDEC S&TCD technology outreach manager.

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The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and our nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.