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CHIPS Articles: NWDC hosts OPFOR Workshop

NWDC hosts OPFOR Workshop
By Navy Warfare Development Command - December 19, 2016
NORFOLK (NNS) -- The Navy Warfare Development Command (NWDC) hosted the first-of-its-kind Opposition Force (OPFOR) workshop Dec. 12-15, 2016, at the Information Warfare Training Command on NAS Oceana Dam Neck Annex, Va.

The four-day event was co-sponsored by Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet and Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command and involved more than 20 commands from both the east and west coasts in attendance or taking part by secure video teleconference from around the world.

"The purpose of the workshop was to develop an OPFOR Community of Practice that will help us achieve a common understanding and synchronization in the portrayal of adversary forces and capabilities," said Cmdr. Matt Young, NWDC Senior Information Officer.

Joining NWDC were representatives from USFF N2 Intelligence, the Pacific Fleet Naval Aggressor Team, the Intelligence community and various operational and training commands to include the Office of Naval Intelligence, National Air Space Intelligence Center, Tactical Training Groups Atlantic and Pacific, and warfighting development centers. NWDC's six-member "Red Cell", composed of seasoned adversary operators, facilitated the OPFOR workshop via vignettes and panel discussions covering adversary air, surface, subsurface, cyber and Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) with a goal of optimizing realistic representation of adversary forces, Young said.

"The key to an effective OPFOR is not strictly relying on Intelligence personnel to portray the adversary but viewing intelligence behaviors and representations through experienced operators' viewpoints," said Lt. Rich Rawls, the NWDC Red Cell lead.

Analysis is a key component to representing OPFOR behavior in reaction to scenarios or events that have not been observed and recorded by intelligence organizations, Rawls continued. Balancing realism and analytic objectives requires a combination of solid intelligence preparation, operational expertise, and rigorous analysis, he said, employing techniques that characterize the "art" of portraying OPFOR.

"We can always improve at what we do and this is why this workshop is important to us," said Rawls. "The collaboration and sharing of best practices will ultimately improve the value of outcomes for the warfighter from Joint and Navy war games, exercises, and experiments."

Capt. Jim Loper, NWDC Operations Department Head, said, "The creation and professionalization of an advanced OPFOR presentation capability is absolutely essential to achieving the CNO's vision of high velocity learning. A thinking adversary that reacts to Blue (friendly) tactics, techniques and procedures is the fastest way to identify capability gaps or training deficiencies, and the faster we know what's wrong, the faster we're going to be able to fix it."

NWDC develops and integrates innovative solutions to complex naval warfare challenges to enhance current and future warfighting capabilities.

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