2014 will see the U.S. military participate in Unified Vision 14, a NATO exercise centered at Oerland Air Station in Norway on the sharing and collaboration of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data. Seventeen nations are expected to participate in this second Unified Vision exercise, with about 2,000 total military personnel — about 250 of them from the U.S. military. Approximately 30 aircraft will fly ISR missions, including fixed-wing, manned and unmanned, and nontraditional such as F-16s with pods on them. Norwegian naval vessels will also be involved.
Richard Wittstruck, deputy program executive officer for Army PEO IEW&S, will be the senior U.S. official participating in the exercise. He is also the chairman of NATO’s ISR Capability Group, and he spoke to C4ISR & Networks Editor Barry Rosenberg about Unified Vision 14.
Tell me about the purpose behind Unified Vision 14.
WITTSTRUCK: This is the second generation exercise of demonstrating joint ISR in support of the NATO sponsor. Joint ISR has been an important enabler in both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Unified Protector [the NATO action related to the Libyan civil war in 2011]. As a result of that, NATO has taken a serious look at how do I sustain and maintain joint ISR proficiencies throughout peacetime operations, looking forward to the next campaign. In their case that is setting the stage for their NATO Response Force 2016, which will be their multi-national response force if a campaign arises anywhere in the world.
So last year there was a summit held on behalf of NATO Atlantic Charter, called the Chicago Summit. President Obama went to that summit. What came out of that summit was a commitment by the 28 nations of NATO and NATO itself that joint ISR would be the second priority of NATO only behind ballistic missile defense. With that came a groundswell of investment, not just resources, but personnel and organizational constructs. So we’ve seen a hyper-focus on joint ISR now in the entire DOTMLPF [doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel and facilities]. Not just the materiel that I chair, but also on the operations side, doctrine, training and leader development.
How would you describe the nature of joint ISR today with our coalition partners?
WITTSTRUCK: The nature is this: OEF and OUP proved that as a multinational coalition under the NATO flag we can work together. What we’re striving to do, though, is to go from a federated approach of working together to where each nation brings its capability and then shares data and services in a limited fashion, and integrate that more into what NATO is calling the Federated Mission Network or Future Mission Network.
So our intent with Oerland in 2014 is to take the lessons learned from 2012, where we proved to ourselves that a signals intelligence, multinational approach can talk to each other. They can operate in the same common area of operations. The same with imagery, same with measurements, signatures, intelligence, and human intelligence. Now what we want to see is: How do I bring that altogether into a fused capability that informs a C2 construct, such that a J3, for example, in the joint task force can make maneuver and fire decisions based on what he’s being provided.
What would you say are the gaps today in coalition ISR so far as information gathering and dissemination?
WITTSTRUCK: The gaps are as follows: You’re very good if you’re in a single intelligence domain. So if I’m a signal intelligence officer, I know whom to work with in the other nations. I know what that handshake looks like, in data sets and services to develop a product. Same in imagery, same in radar, and even open source intelligence. That’s an emerging field.
That said, how do I now bring those together and blend them into a correlated, if not fused multi-intelligence product set? That’s a gap right now. And then, what are the tactics, techniques and procedures, and concept of operations that the operations side [need to develop]? They can’t do that if they don’t have an operationally realistic network with all these contributions of data and services.
So those are the fundamental gaps. How do I bring multi-intelligence to bear? And then how do I allow the operators to then develop training, tactics, techniques, procedures and concept of operations of how they would employ and sustain?
What curve balls are you going to throw at the military personnel participating in Unified Vision 14?
WITTSTRUCK: So we have a few curve balls. Norway is a very unique spot. You can actually jam GPS in Norway legally. So the Norwegian national agencies are giving us authority to once again jam GPS in the local area and see what the effects are on joint ISR when you don’t have GPS feeds to take in.
We also have operational elements that will be there from a multinational coalition with actual fighter jets, land components and maritime components. So one thing we’re going to do, like we did last time, was to hand off to those operators: “Here are the jam bubbles and what do you want to do about them? Can you prosecute the targets? Do you have enough to do a targeting template? Or do you want to just try and outfly the bubbles because now you know where they are?” So that’s kind of unique. That’s a curve ball.
We’re going to do what we call white carding, which is simulating. We’re going to simulate cyber effects. So we’re going to have the 6 who is running the trial, for example, supporting the network turn off nodes 1, 7 and 10 right now. No advance warning, just turn them off like they’ve been jammed. How are they going to reconfigure the network? How are they going to keep on the mission profile?
Lastly, the other curve ball is camouflage, concealment, deception and obscurance. Can I detect the camouflage from the target in the open? We’re going to have decoys. So now, what’s the difference in the signature in trying to detect the real threat and a decoy threat? So when we get into those kinds of campaigns we can say we’re not going to waste limited time and resources trying to track what turns out to be a decoy, as opposed to a real threat.
So those are some of the curve balls we’re going to throw at them. I think they’ll do well with it. They’ve seen some of the stuff before in a more limited fashion. We’re going to go more dynamic with them this time.