As the Project Convergence campaign of learning marches on, leaders from the U.S. Army Futures Command (AFC) executed a Risk Reduction Event as a key step in adding multinational partners to the modernization experiments.
During three weeks in February, network experts from AFC’s Joint Modernization Command (JMC) and Network Cross-Functional Team (CFT) gathered at Fort Bliss, Texas, and worked to create a Mission Partner Environment to allow multinational partners onto a common network for Project Convergence experimentation.
Project Convergence (PC) is the Army’s premier experiment in the development of Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2). PC uses current and near future technologies in an effort to establish machine-to-machine connections and decision tools to construct a unified common operating picture (COP) and requisite networks for all domain information and decision superiority.
At the most recent Project Convergence exercise with joint partners, the Army’s network and data capabilities provided the foundation to rapidly and continuously integrate, or “converge,” effects across all domains. Building on this progress, Army is now focused on integrating both joint and multinational partners into the Project Convergence network by designing the architecture, standards, policies, and risk reduction plan for participants and technologies.
Lt. Col. Nate Saul, Project Convergence communications planner in JMC’s Network Integration Division, said the initial PC Risk Reduction Event with multinational participants was a success and laid the groundwork for communications exercises planned for the months ahead that will more fully integrate the U.S. Army’s coalition and joint military partners.
“We collaborated with our coalition partners, we established the communications capabilities that we set out to establish, and we began building the relationships we need,” Saul said. “I didn’t expect to get as far as we did. But we still have a lot of connections to make, and we have many communication exercises still to do.”
The Mission Partner Environment (MPE) under development for Project Convergence is aligned with MPE efforts across the Army and Department of Defense, which seek to address past coalition networking challenges with technical incompatibility and security. MPE uses a data-centric approach that allows partner nations to connect and seamlessly share information for faster decision making.
“Multinational interoperability has three dimensions: technical (can we talk), procedural (how do we talk), and human (do we understand each other when we talk),” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Quinton Scherer, Network CFT technical advisor and interoperability lead. “Risk Reduction Events help develop the human element associated with multinational interoperability, building the mutual understanding and respect towards operational success. This event furthered the Army’s partnership for Project Convergence and focused on the technical aspects as we build out an Expeditionary level Mission Partner Environment.”
The British and Australian armies participated in this first Risk Reduction Event from their home stations, working during odd hours to get the network established with JMC, headquartered at Fort Bliss, Texas. British Lt. Col. Mark Foote, interoperability officer, said the event was an important first step as the British army joins in the Project Convergence experimentation.
“By successfully establishing transport and network connectivity with the multi-national partners, we have made significant progress toward a reliable Mission Partner Network, which underpins the passage of data for a coalition common operational picture and integrated fires – key to optimizing the sensor-decider-effector chain,” Foote said.
Australian Lt. Col. Stuart Purves, liaison at Army Futures Command, noted that the Australian and U.S. armies already have a lot of experience working together and are highly interoperable.
“Project Convergence will allow us to be more highly integrated in a future battlespace while incorporating emerging technologies that leverage artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics and quantum across our combined capabilities,” Purves said. “Additionally it ensures we can move situational awareness and targeting data seamlessly across the respective armies and the U.S. Joint force to deliver Combined Joint decision advantage.”
Foote also focused on the path ahead for the British and U.S. armies, and what the continued Project Convergence experimentation will mean for the future of warfare.
“The British Army is thrilled to be participating in Project Convergence, which affords us the opportunity to realize our shared vision of being indispensable armies, modernized and ready to deploy, fight and win against the full spectrum of threats around the world,” Foote said. “This year, we will begin aggressively transforming our armies into more lethal and interoperable forces; Project Convergence provides only the first step in a long-term campaign of collaborative learning.”
Now that the first important step has been taken, the Project Convergence campaign of learning will continue all year with other network Risk Reduction Events, Lab-Based Risk Reduction at the Combined Joint Systems Integration Lab (CJSIL) and field-based communications exercises, all leading up to a capstone event in the fall.