FORT CARSON, Colorado — During Joint Warfighting Assessment 2021, a U.S.-led multi-national division conducted tactical operations in a live, virtual and constructed environment, replicating mission threads across all domains, to enhance coalition network interoperability and a trusted common operational picture.
“The Army will always fight as a member of the combined joint force alongside allies and partners, so it’s important [that] we continue learning and improving our human, procedural and technical interoperability as a single entity,” said Maj. Gen. Matthew McFarlane, commander of the U.S. 4th Infantry Division, which led the multinational division. “This exercise improved our ability to not only fight tonight, but also in the future as we modernize our Army.”
JWA is one of the Army’s largest joint multinational exercises and alternates each year between the European and Indo-Pacific areas of operation. This year’s JWA was set in an Indo-Pacific 2028 operational environment against a near peer threat to demonstrate and assess the Multi-Domain Operations concept and supporting integrated Mission Partner Network capabilities.
Participants included armies from the U.S., United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. The exercise, which concluded last week, was conducted at Fort Carson, Colorado; Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.
During JWA21, the U.S. Army conducted operational assessments on several network capabilities managed by Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T), including two critical to coalition interoperability – the Commercial Coalition Equipment (CCE) network enclave and Command Post Computing Environment (CPCE) software.
The Army flexed these systems in the Mission Partner Environment and injected an operational threat with contested cyber and electromagnetic activities. As part of the Army’s network modernization strategy, enhancements to the Mission Partner Environment are supporting joint and coalition interoperability, enabling mission partners to share information through all phases of operations more fluidly, rapidly and effectively.
“Getting these tools dirty…handing them to the warfighters to provide feedback, will inform senior leaders, so they can make [sound] modernization decisions moving forward,” McFarlane said.
Technical and Soldier feedback from the operational assessments will inform program milestones and the Capability Set 23 (CS23) network design decisions. CS23 — the second installment in the Army’s iterative two-year network modernization capability set acquisition and fielding process — builds upon CS21 advances in more expeditionary and intuitive capabilities to increase network capacity, convergence and resiliency.
As part of the CPCE operational assessment, U.S. and coalition Soldiers used the system to access common collaboration tools and securely share information onto the common operating picture, known as the COP, to help the coalition fight as one force. The Army first introduced the versatile CPCE framework as part of CS21, to reduce complexity and the amount of hardware in a command post, while improving coalition interoperability.
“The friction that is there as [different nations] start trying to integrate to get the COP is absolutely normal, and … being here in one location to do this is how you find solutions,” said Brig. Jason Blain, 7th Australian Combat Brigade commander. “To look at what each nation brings to the party in regards to a solution that works, and then documenting [that] across a multinational division…is how we get a stronger, more coherent COP going forward.”
During the CCE operational assessment, both U.S. and coalition partners used the CCE network enclave to securely access and tie into the shared Mission Partner Network to exchange data and feed the COP. If needed CCE can also be rapidly reconfigured to provide commercial connectivity. Additionally, CCEv4’s integrated radio bridging and voice crossbanding capability enables the system to establish multination radio information exchange between telephones, combat networks, and voice applications.
The CCE also provided the routing for the Common Services-Hub (CS-Hub), which hosts common mission partner enterprise services, such as email, voice over internet protocol, file sharing and chat. Integrated with CPCE, the U.S. Army’s Tactical Server Infrastructure served as the CS-Hub hardware and hosted additional authorized software from other Army programs of record.
JWA21 was a key element in the Army’s integrated series of annual network modernization experiments, a campaign of learning that will culminate with Project Convergence 21 this fall.
To ensure the success of these exercises, as part of the Army’s network modernization Development Security Operations (DevSecOps) process, the service conducts lab-based risk reduction events at the integration facilities at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, which then leads to field-based risk reduction events onsite with the units. Each exercise continually builds on lessons learned to help the Army more rapidly achieve its network modernization goals with Soldier-centric designs that work, including an interoperable Mission Partner Environment.
As the battlefield becomes increasingly faster, more lethal and more distributed, the Army will continue to evolve capabilities — such as CCE, CS-Hub and CPCE — that enhance collation interoperability and contribute to increases in network speed, range and convergence in support of Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2). The ultimate goal is to achieve decision dominance on a Multi-Domain Operations battlefield by 2028.
“Soldiers in my brigade are serving today in operations and overseas deployments in Iraq, Ukraine, Kosovo, Poland and Romania, and they are doing so side-by-side with Soldiers from the nations around this table,” said 1st United Kingdom Strike Brigade commander, Brig. Sam Humphris. “My agenda in this exercise is to ensure that they are not only able to continue to do so in the future, but to be able to so even more integrated, better connected and more effectively...We are much better armed as a result of this week.”
The U.S. Army Project Manager Tactical Network is assigned to Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, which develops, acquires, fields and supports the Army's mission command network to ensure force readiness. This critical Army modernization priority delivers tactical communications so commanders and Soldiers can stay connected and informed at all times, even in the most austere and hostile environments. PEO C3T is delivering the network to regions around the globe, enabling high-speed, high-capacity voice, data and video communications to a user base that includes the Army's joint, coalition and other mission partners.