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CHIPS Articles: Collaboration and Connectivity for the Warfighter — JEFX 08-3

Collaboration and Connectivity for the Warfighter — JEFX 08-3
Navy leverages Air Force experiment to focus on command and control operations
By Sharon Anderson - July-September 2008
The pace was brisk; adrenaline was pumping at 2nd Fleet's Maritime Headquarters with Maritime Operations Center (MHQ with MOC) located in Norfolk, Va., April 23, as about 70 battle watch officers, as well as more than 100 other Army, Navy and Air Force officers at various locations across the country, manned stations that linked simulated portions of the MOC with Navy Warfare Development Command's Modeling and Simulation Lab in Newport, R.I., and the Air Force Air Operations Centers (AOC) across the country to participate in the Air Force's Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment 2008-3.

JEFX 08-3, held from April 14 – 25, is part of the JEFX 08 series of related Air Force-sponsored experiments focusing on network command and control operations. It also emphasized integration, distributed operations, and data links to enhance joint and coalition warfighting environments.

The Navy's participation in JEFX 08-3 is aimed to develop and refine the MHQ w/MOC processes in relation to other tactical C2 centers. JEFX provided an environment for the Navy to experiment with techniques, tactics and procedures for communicating with other MOCs and carrier and expeditionary strike groups, as well as with collaboration through machine-to-machine communications rather than by telephones and radios.

A MOC consists of organizational elements that share information and knowledge in support of the planning, execution and assessment stages of operations as required by the MHQ commander. The experiment explored the different ways that MOCs can globally link with each other and with Air Force AOCs.

"This is one of the only events that we can leverage off an Air Operations Center. The Air Force has a distributed [Combined] CAOC in this experiment. They have been very cooperative with our needs, and it's a venue that is unique in working with an AOC," said Capt. Steven Swittel, director of the Maritime Battle Center for Sea Trial experimentation at NWDC. Swittel worked with 2nd Fleet for two years in designing and developing the experiment structure for the Navy.

"We are stressing the processes between the MOC and the AOC and looking at joint maritime fires, and we are looking at the processes and tools. We are doing some 'live fly' and we have aircraft on the range that we control from here and send missions to them. They can take pictures, send pictures here, we can evaluate — and if we want to hit that target — we can send a strike order back to the same aircraft and they can do it. They can take a re-picture of it and send the battle hit assessment back to the MOC.

"The main thing is the operational level and how the MOC and AOC tie together. We have Air Force guys here during the debrief to make sure that we get the best out of the data we are collecting," Swittel said.

Second Fleet's participation in the experiment primarily focused on its MOC's ability to interact with other operation centers around the world — to globally network, emphasized Capt. Steve Snyder, deputy director of the MHQ w/MOC at 2nd Fleet. The experiment allows an opportunity to build in more commonality, consistency and compatibility between the numbered fleet MOCs and the Naval Network Warfare Command's tailored MOC, Snyder said.

"In JEFX, as we work with our partners, the other sister services and other nations, if the Air Force has to work with Fifth Fleet and Second Fleet, it benefits both if Fifth Fleet and Second Fleet's operations centers are similar. It will also add value to our tactical forces.

"If we take a carrier strike group and an expeditionary strike group through all their training on the West Coast or East Coast, many of them will go through three or four AORs (areas of responsibility) under command of a different maritime operations center. They start here at Second Fleet, go through Sixth Fleet and could end up in Fifth Fleet's AOR. The same is true of our West Coast forces starting with Third Fleet, going to Seventh Fleet and perhaps Fifth Fleet again.

"For that strike group, it is important that as they get different bosses, that the way that they interact with those bosses has a common flavor," Snyder said.

Navy MOCs have been evolving for about four years. Adm. Mike Mullen, when he was Chief of Naval Operations, drove the idea for a MOC, standard, globally networked capabilities needed at the operational level where commanders can go for expertise for any number of capabilities. The Navy calls this reachback, and it is critical to operational success, according to Snyder.

"Reachback has a couple of different flavors. One is unique skills, information operations is a good example, where for NETWARCOM and their federated IO structure that is a capability that all the MOCs ought to be able to tap into.

"Whether I am at Second Fleet, Fifth Fleet or Seventh Fleet, I ought to be able to reach back. There is always going to be distributed capability, but in terms of the scalability, I can reach back to Norfolk and NETWARCOM.

"There is also reachback in terms of load level. If something goes hot on one of our fleet AORs that drives a manpower requirement above their existing staffing level, and we don't have the time to flow operational level command and control people there, maybe they can reach back to another fleet staff and get some planners because their demand signal just went way up," Snyder said.

The MHQ with MOC is intended to streamline processes and communications at the operational level between fleet and naval component commands. Through MHQ with MOC, the Navy is creating a global network of maritime headquarters that will be in constant communication with each other and able to consistently and quickly transition from peacetime operations to combat, humanitarian relief, or other operations as needed.

JEFX is a "forcing function" for integration of new or emerging technologies and assessment of interoperability with existing C2 systems and subsystems.

"We want to force collaboration," said Tom Forbes, 2nd Fleet's science adviser. "We don't want people to collaborate face-to-face because we need to wring out the networks and the applications and see how they perform and how they support collaboration.

"We put the CSG and the ESG people in physically separate locations from where the maritime component commander is located so they can't talk to one another face-to-face just as if they were aboard their ships out at sea. We created the conditions such that they had to rely on the tools in order to do their jobs," Forbes said.

The experiment combines live, virtual and constructive air, space, naval and ground force simulations and technology insertion into a near-seamless joint warfighting environment.

Navy Warfare Development Command provided the simulation through its JSAF, Joint Semi-Automated Forces, a maritime-specific simulation, fed from Newport to Hurlburt Field, Fla., for the overall simulation environment for the exercise. But not just any scenario will do, said Snyder.

"Scenarios are not easy. There is a lot of work that goes in to make sure that the scenario stresses the things you are trying to test. Every time you get a group together, you want it to be more than just do the electrons flow?

"Every time you have people in a room working through a process, they are learning. If you have a type commander or a captain playing in this environment for the first time, they need to learn something that they might use in the fleet when they are doing this for real," Snyder said.

While providing a fine-tuning process for the joint warfighter, the experiment also helped establish groundbreaking command and control technology.

"ISPAN, Integrated Strategic Planning and Analysis Network, is a tool developed by U.S. Strategic Command. It is user-friendly and extremely useful in the first phase of this experiment so we brought it back for a closer, broader look in this event. It continues to serve us well, and that is a big win for us," Forbes said.

"We have already incorporated that in the 2010 baseline. It is a Web service, and it supports the military style of planning, it is universally applicable across the land, sea and air domains."

Some of the other applications and systems tested were the TBMCS, Theater Battle Management Core Systems and JADOCS, Joint Automated Deep Operations Coordination System.

"JADOCS has served us well as a battle management tool that allows us to coordinate actions across the number of warfare commanders in our doctrine as well as coordinating with the other services so that we bring the right effects onto the target at the right time.

"TPG, Target Package Generator, allows us to send imagery via Link 16 from this building to an FA-18 in the air in Nevada over an IP network.

"We assembled a team of folks that had never worked together before, and they had no experience on any of the tools that we gave them. We trained them for three days and on the fourth day, we had ROC (rehearsal of concept) drills, then we went right into the scenario ops. It has been a dynamic experience, and they have done tremendously well," Forbes said.

Lessons learned are documented in STIMS, the Sea Trial Information Management System, a database maintained by NWDC.

"We have learned a lot about how the MOC and the tailored MOC, the federated IO, needs to work together to support one another. The information operations domain is federated and works through the tailored MOC at NETWARCOM through five FIOCs, Fleet Information Operations Centers.

"They are networked together via IP networks, and they provide the non-kinetic effects, the information operations, the influence shaping, computer network operations, and all sorts of computer network defense — an intangible force that we need to be able to operate with efficiently," Forbes said.

For the electronic warfare element of JEFX, the Navy provided the airborne electronic attack aircraft EA-18G Growler at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

Some of the experimentation is only applicable at the numbered fleet commander level, the tailored MOC at NETWARCOM or for the theater maritime commander, according to Forbes.

"But it is also applicable down to the strike group commander and staff level and even down to individual ships in some cases. We have some representatives from a carrier strike group and an expeditionary strike group in the experiment audience," Forbes said.

Technologies will be deployed in spirals for the 2010 baseline.

"We have defined what we think we will need in FY10 and what we are planning to invest in ought to be the C4I, command, control, communications, computers and intelligence, profile for maritime operations," Snyder said.

Ultimately, the importance of the experiment is not really about technology, according to Snyder.

"We want to make sure there is seamlessness across the boundaries. Those boundaries are horizontal, AOC to MOC, and vertical as in MOC to the strike groups to the tactical forces.

"For example, what good is one cell phone? You need to make sure that there is something on the other end, whether that is horizontally or vertically," Snyder continued.

"The applications and the technology we are using need to enhance our ability to fight and operate at the operational level, but we also need to make sure they are connecting across all of our different boundaries."

For more information about JFEX-08, go to www.gcic.af.mil/News/JEFX.asp.

For more information about 2nd Fleet, go to www.secondfleet.navy.mil/.

Capt. Steve Snyder, deputy director of the MHQ with MOC at Second Fleet; Mr. Tom Forbes, Second Fleet’s science adviser; and Capt. Steven Swittel, director of the Maritime Battle Center for Sea Trial experimentation at Navy Warfare Development Command.
Capt. Steve Snyder, deputy director of the MHQ with MOC at Second Fleet; Mr. Tom Forbes, Second Fleet’s science adviser; and Capt. Steven Swittel, director of the Maritime Battle Center for Sea Trial experimentation at Navy Warfare Development Command.
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