By Vince Little, The BayonetNovember 17, 2011
COLUMBUS, Ga. -- Military leaders put a wrap on the 2011 Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment during a two-day event with industry, science and technology partners at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center.
VIP Day on Wednesday featured an AEWE Spiral G campaign overview, technology demonstration and initial insights from Army Test and Evaluation Command analysts. The displays were opened to the public Thursday.
The Maneuver Battle Lab conducts the experiment annually. It took place Oct. 17 to Nov. 4 this year at the McKenna Urban Operations Complex.
"One of the key ways the Army can get at determining what the force needs is through experimentation," said Maj. Gen. Robert Brown, the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning commanding general. "Thanks to industry, research and the centers of excellence working together, we get the equipment in Soldiers' hands earlier. It's about fixing things from the bottom up. How do we enable the squad to get to overmatch and make it the foundation of the decisive force?
"This experiment is one of the ways we are going to get to overmatch. We see our industry partners getting that Soldier input very early on in the process and across the spectrum, and it has a huge impact. … AEWE provides a venue for some of that vital dialogue to occur."
AEWE is the only live, large-scale prototype experiment in the Army, Maneuver Battle Lab officials said. It offers the industry, science and technology community a unique opportunity to gather Soldier feedback while ATEC examines concepts and capabilities for current and future forces.
Military analysts and exercise force leaders set out to gain more knowledge into how 4G smartphone technology can benefit the Soldier and small unit. The 2011 session focused on empowering the squad and platoon by identifying and assessing voice and data alternatives, with focus on cellular networks and digital applications.
"Much was learned about how cellular systems function in an austere tactical environment, and we learned a lot about how those technologies can be improved upon to operate in those environments," said Maj. Philippe Persaud, chief of the live experimentation branch at the Signal Center of Excellence on Fort Gordon, Ga.
AEWE project lead Gary Daniel of the Maneuver Battle Lab said the Spiral G assessment had five focus areas: communications, robotics, power solutions, Soldier load and protection, and resupply. With those objectives as the backdrop, the Signal Center of Excellence stood up a cellular-based network for a company-sized element supporting dismounted Infantrymen on the ground so it could have access to the common operating picture via the battalion.
"They proved all those things could be done," Daniel said. "The network provided continuous situational awareness, communications and real-time interaction with key leaders above and down to the platoon and squad level."
Test officials said AEWE's use of 4G as the vehicle to support tactical operations may provide insight into how an unprecedented amount of information available to Soldiers on the battlefield can help shape the fight.
The types of information delivered to experimentation force Soldiers over a closed 4G network during AEWE Spiral G included video and data from more than 40 "cutting-edge" technologies and platforms, as well as mission command, Daniel said.
Next year, AEWE Spiral H will continue to support the MCoE's "Squad: Foundation of the Decisive Force" initiative, officials said. Objectives include boosting training and leader development while seeking materiel solutions in network, mobility, force protection, power and energy, and lethality functions.