By Robert PursellJune 28, 2007
U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) will team with its allies later this year to assess technologies in an advanced concept technology demonstration (ACTD) designed to reduce friendly fire incidents and enhance combat effectiveness.
Coalition warfighters will test Coalition Combat Identification (CCID) technologies during an operational demonstration known as Bold Quest in September to assess their overall effectiveness and ability to support the warfighter in combat identification.
USJFCOM's John Miller, operational manager for the CCID ACTD, said the U.S. priorities in the project are currently oriented on the combat identification issues involved with the engagement of ground targets by coalition aircraft.
"The U.S. effort in the ACTD is generally focused on the tools required by aircrew and ground controllers who coordinate the attack or drop bombs on targets, enabling them to do that more quickly and effectively than they can today" he said.
Miller said Bold Quest will also allow U.S. forces to team with international forces to demonstrate and assess other CCID technologies and how they work together. While all of the services have involvement in the event, because Air Force air to ground systems are the ACTD's core, the Air Force is the project's lead service.
Air Force Col. Lou Durkac, the Air Combat Command (ACC) lead for the ACTD and one of the pilots who will fly in the demonstration, said nations and services have current systems that can see each other but can't see across other nations or services.
"A Marine aircraft can see Marine ground forces but it can't necessarily see Army ground forces," he said. "So now we're trying to take all of those ground forces positions and feed the relevant ones up to the aircraft before they release their weapons, so that they have the most situational awareness on where the friendlies are on the ground."
Miller said participants, including the Marines, Army, Air Force and multinational partners including Canada, Australia, France, Sweden, and the United Kingdom will provide troops and vehicles for the exercise.
"Each country comes to the ACTD with its own set of priorities," he said. "The integration of those priorities is what makes this work interesting and challenging for the ACTD's coalition team."
Rodney Rendina, the Air Force technical manager for the ACTD, said the added bonus to improving the capability is the reduction of fratricide, or accidentally killing of friendly forces.
"Our objective is improving combat ID and our capability to do that, but one of the outcomes of that is we reduce fratricide in doing that," he said. "Plus, we more effectively fly our missions that need to be flown in giving the warfighter a real ID capability."
Royal Canadian Army Lt. Col. Peter Nielsen, Canada's director for the project, concurred and said this can also help in winning over the population of the nation being helped.
"The objective is to improve combat effectiveness and allow commanders to use weapons at standoff ranges and make best use of them to have the outcome to reduce fratricide," he said.
"But there is another dimension, from our perspective and the military operations in which we engage, and that is because it is so critical to have mission success in the Kandahar province in Afghanistan, for example, to win the hearts and minds of the populace. We also seek to keep international support, which is so critical to our ability to stay in the region and finish the job. We can not achieve that if we misidentify and engage the wrong targets."
Miller said that a major effort within the demonstration, with all of these U.S. and international objectives in mind, is to develop a concept of operations.
"If you put a new tool in the hands of any of these users, you've got to develop a procedure for them to use it effectively. You take the tool, you develop the procedure, evaluate the tool and the procedure during the demonstration and improve upon both afterward," he said.
"That refined operational concept, a statement of the warfighters' intended employment, can be a very useful reference for technology managers post-Bold Quest as they improve upon the prototype systems we'll see demonstrated there."
Bold Quest will be held at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. and Ft. Irwin National Training Center, Calif. from Sept. 7-19.