FORT SILL, Oklahoma (Nov. 20, 2019) -- When someone wants to share personal information with many friends quickly and discreetly they use Facebook.

Similarly when a fire direction center wants to pass tactical information accurately and securely to artillery gun crews, including joint and combined forces, it uses the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System, or AFATDS.

The Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill hosted the Artillery Systems Cooperation Activities Interoperability (ASCA) Program meeting to discuss the AFATDS, and other issues.

"Our leadership at the Army level and joint level have determined that joint and coalition interoperability is an extremely high priority," said Capt. Von Spence, a U.S. delegate at the meeting. "We place a lot of emphasis on that at the Fires Center."

About 80 delegates from 18 nations, including soldiers and defense contractors, were here Nov. 13-20, said Spence, who works at the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Capability Manager Fires Cells-Targeting.

"We were chosen to represent our nations because we are operational subject matter experts, and we bring our technical and testing guys," he said

The ASCA is an international organization that meets three times a year to discuss operational artillery requirements. Various nations host the event, and it has been conducted at U.S. Army posts in Germany.

Some of the nations represented were the United Kingdom, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Italy, said Spence. Nine of the nations were sponsors of ASCA, and other nations were invited to observe.

One of the topics discussed was close air support because ASCA wants to solidify close air support requirements this year, he said.

"Integrating air-to-ground Fires into the complete Fires support picture is a big part of our jobs," said Spence.

The ASCA featured guest presenters from the U.S. Air Force, and next year will also have Sailors and Marines to discuss maritime operational requirements, he said.

Denmark delegate Army Capt. Christoffer Mathiesen, is the chief of his army's live fires and close air support office. He described the ASCA information exchange as important for coalition forces.

When combined forces are fighting together in Iraq or Afghanistan it's important to pass artillery data accurately and quickly to get it on target, he said.

All of the information discussed at the ASCA meeting is being heavily documented, said Spence.

The operational requirements will be shared with technical subcommittees, who will turn them into technical specifications, which will be evaluated at the technical and operational levels to get out any bugs, Spence said. "They send that feedback to us to validate requirements, and to validate it against changing doctrine (principles used in combat)."

The next ASCA meeting will be in March at Larkhill, England.