U.S. Military officials set to evaluate a host of COTS information technologies

Sept. 1, 2001
Leaders of the U.S. military services will have a new shopping list when Department of Defense (DOD) officials finish selecting a slate of technologies that could help battlefield commanders manage, safeguard, and exploit information to its fullest advantage.

By Edward J. Walsh

WASHINGTON — Leaders of the U.S. military services will have a new shopping list when Department of Defense (DOD) officials finish selecting a slate of technologies that could help battlefield commanders manage, safeguard, and exploit information to its fullest advantage.

The Joint Warrior Interoperability Demonstration (JWID) Joint Program Office (JPO) will host a planning conference in late October to permit the services, the Defense Information Systems Agency, and the Joint Staff to select as many as 35 technologies in information management, network security, and command and control for demonstration at the 2002 JWID next April 29 to May 24.

The winning technologies will come from dozens of proposals by companies and service laboratories in response to a July Commerce Business Daily announcement.

DOD leaders established JWID in the early 1990s to give the services a forum each year for looking at emerging information technologies. Starting with the 2000-2001 series, the JWID program stretched to a two-year series consisting of an initial "theme year" and a follow-up "exploitation year."

JWID 2001, completed with three weeks of demonstrations in July, represented the exploitation year. It linked 38 sites worldwide by secure networks. In September officials of the JWID JPO will publish a "lessons learned" report on the technologies demonstrated in JWID 2000-2001.

Nine JWID technologies from last year came back for the 2001 demonstrations. They included Raytheon's Silent Runner and Patrol, developed by BMC Software of Houston. Silent Runner and Patrol were selected as JWID "Gold Nuggets" last year, a distinction that improves their prospects for fielding.

Three 2000 runners-up also returned: Secure Information Responsibility Environment (SIREN) from Veridian Engineering in Arlington, Va.; the Network-Centric UYQ-70 display processor developed from Lockheed Martin Tactical Systems in Eagan, Minn.; and the Space & Information Analysis Model (SIAM) which has been prototyped by Aegis Research Corp. in Falls Church, Va.

JWID officials point out that the technologies returning from JWID '00 will not be back for the 2002-2003 series unless they add significant new capability.

JWID '01 also introduced a new "defense collaborative tool suite" (DCTS) consisting of a suite of distributed-planning software tools aimed at improving the interoperability of dissimilar systems and enhancing connectivity between U.S. and allied JWID participants. The planning tools included Microsoft's Netmeeting, CUseeMe's Meeting Point, the Lotus Sametime Server, Sun Meeting, and Lotus Domino. The DCTS provided such network support functions as video, audio, display of planning "whiteboards," and chatting connectivity.

A secure coalition wide-area network (CWAN) linked most U.S. and European sites to the U.S.-based demonstration sites. A multinational task group (MNTG) network linked five Australian and three New Zealand sites along with the U.S. sites. The Netmeeting tool ran on the CWAN and Lotus Domino on the MNTG. Other support software included the Army, Navy, and joint-service versions of global command and control system (GCCS) version 3.2, a Network Time Protocol developed at The U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center at Dahlgren, Va., as well as Netscape 4.6.1, Microsoft Explorer 4.6, and Microsoft Office 97.

The Joint Battle Center in Suffolk, Va., acted as the lead commander in chief (CINC) site for JWID 2000-2001. The Dahlgren laboratory served as a primary site for Army and Marine Corps JWID participation and as a secondary Navy site. Hurlburt Field, Fla., the primary Air Force site, hosted the joint-forces air component commander (JFACC).

The JWID was built around a simulated mission that called for allied forces to restore sovereignty to the fictional nation of Kartuna, notionally located in North and South Carolina.

Dahlgren hosted six JWID demonstrations. The Dahlgren JWID team also ran five demos of technologies developed at the Dahlgren site, and hosted six of the collaborative planning tools. In addition to the Network Time Protocol, a second Dahlgren project, called Collaborator, also served as a JWID planning tool.

Dennis Warne, manager of the Dahlgren command and control laboratory, who acted as Dahlgren's JWID coordinator, says that the July demonstrations showed that network problems, such as routing, patching, and cryptographic problems are "beginning to be solved."

"The software running in the joint-service global command-and-control system (GCCS) and the Defense information infrastructure common operating environment (DII COE) is becoming more stable," he says.

Warne adds, though, that the Dahlgren site experienced problems with the distributed planning tools because of a lack of procedures and operational concepts. Initially, no controls existed to govern access to the tools, he says. The site had a limited number of network "portals," and could not show the identities of users. Some key users experienced delays in gaining access to the JWID networks and in using the planning tools.

"Instead of a half-dozen senior officers using the planning tools to develop air-tasking orders, the tools were tied up by 20 or 30 individuals engaged in less-critical activities," he says. The whiteboard function, which can help show troop movements and other operations, was limited in effectiveness when non-essential users used it for displaying non-critical data.

The tools, Warne says "are like a large three- or four-story building; you can know where you are, but you can still get lost inside."

He says however that distributed planning tools increasingly represent "core services," like air-tasking orders, the common operational picture (COP), or the advanced field artillery tactical data system (AFATDS), which must be accessible online to support tactical functions. The Army and Marine Corps are fielding AFATDS, developed by Raytheon.

Warne adds that by the second week of JWID, participants began exercising network discipline. He warns though that the contractors and labs that developed the distributed collaborative planning tools have to develop ways to "lock-in" the whiteboard function to limit access and reserve it for critical users such as senior commanders. The technology by itself does not "reserve seats," he says.

The five Dahlgren-developed technologies demonstrated during JWID 2001 were:

  1. an intrusion detection system (IDS);
  2. a joint warning and reporting network or JWARN;
  3. a Quick Strike Planner for Tomahawk cruise missiles;
  4. Collaborator, which supported a web-based chat room and whiteboard to support situation awareness; and
  5. the network time protocol that along with Collaborator, served as a planning tool.

The IDS activated at the direction of Dahlgren network security officials concerned about potential probing and intrusion of Dahlgren networks during JWID. Warne says that the CWAN extends across 18 time zones and may be vulnerable, even though it is classified and considered secure. The Quick Strike planner is to upgrade the Tactical Tomahawk weapon control system (TTWCS), now under development for the Navy's cruise missile program office at Lockheed Martin Management and Data Systems in Philadelphia.

The Collaborator as a planning tool, hosted the Time-Critical Targeting (TCT) JWID demo, one of the nine JWID technologies that returned from last year's event. The TCT represents a capability provided by a system, designated TACSYS, developed by Northrop Grumman Logicon in Dahlgren, Va. TACSYS provides additional capability to the GCCS, based on DII COE version 4.X, that streamlines and speeds up targeting operations.

A second Dahlgren-based demo, the joint-attack command and control system (JACCS), developed by Raytheon, is intended as a network-centric fire-support and battle-management tool to provide ground, air, space, and maritime situational awareness. JACCS required the AFATDS, serving as a fire-support planning tool, to be on line to perform its automated weapons-target pairing function.

The SIAM, another Dahlgren-hosted JWID demonstration, was showcased as an automated decision aid to help in planning deployments for airborne and space assets. SIAM developer Aegis Research says that the system sets priorities for targeting, among other functions.

UYQ-70 Network-Centric Computing, a returning JWID demo also hosted at Dahlgren, already has gone through extensive evaluation aboard the Third Fleet command ship USS Coronado, which serves as the Navy's sea-based battle lab. The 'Q-70 NC uses thin and "ultra-thin" client-server technology to dramatically reduce size, weight, and power requirements for shipboard computing, while supporting dozens of workstations.

Warne points out though that for JWID it was limited because it required 10 megabytes to function among JWID sites, an unrealistic requirement for shipboard use. It also was fitted with a small 10-inch screen and a commercial camera that would not be effective in low light.

COTS technologies under JWID 2001 considerationSilent RunnerRaytheon Information Assurance ProductsLinthicum, Md.410-981-6000http://www.silentrunner.com/PatrolBMC Software Inc.Houston713-918-8800http://www.bmc.com/Secure Information ResponsibilityVeridian Engineering DivisionArlington, Va.703-797-7000http://www.veridian.com/Environment (SIREN)Network-Centric UYQ-70 display processorLockheed Martin Naval Electronics & SurveillanceEagan, Minn.651-456-2222http://www.lockheedmartin.com/minn/Systems-EaganSpace & Information Analysis Model (SIAM)Aegis Research Corp.Falls Church, Va.703-610-9264http://www.aegisresearch.com/NetmeetingMicrosoftRedmond, Wash.425-882-8080http://www.microsoft.com/windows/netmeeting/default.aspMeeting PointFirst Virtual Communi cations Inc.Santa Clara, Calif.408-567-7200http://www.fvc.com/products/conferenceserver.htmSametime ServerLotus Development Corp.Cambridge, Mass.617-577-8500http://www.lotus.com/home.nsf/welcome/sametimeDominoLotus Development Corp.Cambridge, Mass.617-577-8500http://www.lotus.com/home.nsf/welcome/domino

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