The Multinational Maritime Information Services Interoperability (M212) Board met in Hamburg, Germany from September 7-11, 2015. More than 20 nations and the NATO alliance actively participate in this biannual forum to support worldwide combined maritime operations and exercises by enabling command and control (C2) and fully integrating information capabilities and systems to optimize decision making and warfighting effects.
The M212 was established in 2001 after the initiation of Operation Enduring Freedom and was tasked with the development, supervision, and implementation of mutually agreed operational and technical solutions for operations of all Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System (CENTRIXS) – Maritime (M) enclaves. M2I2 has evolved to support the standardization and implementation of all coalition maritime mission secret and below information services capabilities.
Sponsored by Vice Adm. Ted N. Branch, the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance (N2/N6), the M212 mission enhances situational awareness and facilitates secure and reliable information exchange. The vision is to provide interoperability across multinational fleets, using network-enabled capabilities sufficiently agile to respond to contingencies and robust enough for sustained naval combat operations.
The main focus of the Hamburg meeting was the implantation of the Mission Partner Environment (MPE) in the maritime environment. As a component of the Defense Department’s Joint Information Environment (JIE), this concept supports the connection of multiple networks and national systems into a single information environment. Mission partners establish the MPE capability framework, and support combined operations, by agreeing to independently provide mission network resources.
M2I2 working groups made significant progress in addressing operational and technical challenges for coalition networks. Developments ranged from scoping MPE (including U.S. BICES-X) maritime operational requirements, to defining standards for network configurations and protocols. These contributions support interoperability and information sharing efforts that provide continued mission success during combined operations.
Combatant Commanders recently requested that the Department of Defense Chief Information Officer accelerate the finalization of JIE and MPE efforts via a memo published February 15, 2015 – “Need for Accelerated Joint Information Environment and Mission Partner Environment Capabilities.” Through M212, the U.S. Navy is rising to meet the challenge of including mission partners and supporting interoperability capabilities and services for a JIE construct that is not yet mature. A key part of achieving this, and maintaining interoperability standards, is to identify the appropriate Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) capabilities.
CENTRIXS-M is envisioned as playing a role in the MPE structure. Cooperation from M2I2 partner nations and other organizations that focus on interoperability, such as NATO and the AUSCANNZUKUS Maritime Information Warfare Organization, a collaboration group for Australia, Canada, New Zeland, United Kingdom and the United States will be critical to meet future maritime requirements.
The M2I2 provides the opportunity to enhance support for current and future combined operations. To minimize costs, partner nations strive towards the use of existing resources and standards based systems to address interoperability for coalition operations. Future plans will continue to support and broaden interoperability, as well as building partnerships and alliances.