Fort Benning – The Army Expeditionary Warfare Experiment 23 (AEWE 23) concluded on April 4, after seven weeks of experimentation. Soldiers from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands joined U.S. Soldiers for the entire experiment from February 21 to April 4, acting as an experimental force experimenting with 36 different technologies.
Soldiers from the Maneuver Center of Excellence (MCOE) A Company, 1st Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment, known as the Army’s Experimental Force (EXFOR), along with a British infantry platoon from the 2nd Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment and a Dutch combat engineer reconnaissance platoon from the 13th Light Armor Brigade all worked together to experiment with high level emerging technologies to provide feedback through Soldier touchpoints directly to the industry manufacturers who created the technology.
“The AEWE campaign provides operational insights on experiment objectives by exploring new concepts, organizations, training methods, and integrating prototype capabilities into an operational environment,” said Capt. Joseph Broam, EXFOR commander.
This year marks the twentieth year of AEWE, making it the oldest of the Army Future Warfighting Experiments (AFWE) series designed to provide responsive risk reduction live field experiments. AFWE assesses Multidomain Operations (MDO) Concepts, Capabilities, and Formations at Echelon (tactical and operational).
“2023 marks the 20th anniversary of AEWE, 20 years of focusing on small unit transformation concepts and requirements by partnering with U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM),” said Christopher Willis, director Maneuver Battle Lab (MBL) at the Maneuver Capability Development Integration Directorate (MCDID). “AEWE is a Futures and Concepts sponsored, MCOE-hosted live experiment that informs the persistent experimentation of the United States Army Futures Command.”
To qualify to attend AEWE 23, all the technology that appeared must have been at a technological level six or higher. This means that all the technology that appeared had a live prototype and was tested in a relevant environment.
The MBL integrated both simulations at a scale that was unachievable live, live experimentation, and force-on-force experimentation to make the most of the seven weeks long experiment—focusing on a wide range of emerging technology from unmanned aircraft systems to medical sensors. Soldiers could see how well-emerging technology could be integrated and provide direct feedback from three different countries’ points of view.
This experiment allowed Soldiers from the United States to work with multinational allies. All the nations involved have different tactics, techniques, and procedures giving the experimenters other reference points on how the technology could be used, where it could be used, and at what level of command each of the technologies could be used at.
“It is a great opportunity for us to exercise and promote interoperability with our NATO Allies and for us to focus on being partners of innovation together,” said Broam. “Without shared innovation, we hinder our interoperability to work alongside one another on the battlefield of today and the future.”
AEWE 23 finished with an insights day that allowed Soldiers from multiple Cross-Functional Teams (CFTs) and CDIDs to ask questions to a panel of multinational Soldiers ranging from lance corporal to major about various aspects of the experiments. After finishing the panel and discussing some key insights from the experiment, participants viewed a demonstration of UAS technology that had been tested throughout the experiment.
Soldiers participating in AEWE 23 in the past seven-weeks took opportunities to touch, test and put these technologies through a rigorous process, in the dirt while providing feedback immediately. “They [the Soldiers] have put capabilities with promise through their paces, providing Army Futures Command with critical analysis and insights on how best to transform for future armed conflicts,” said Maj. Gen. Curtis Buzzard, United States Army Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning, commanding general.