In 2002 Lord George Robertson, former NATO Secretary General, coined the phrase “Modernize or be Marginalized” which is more true than ever before and is in the spirit of the Coalition Warrior Interoperability Exercise, or ‘CWIX’ for short. CWIX, NATO’s premier interoperability event, is designed to continuously improve the ability of NATO Allies and partners to work together in future operations. The Coalition Warrior Interoperability Exercise tests, identifies and fixes interoperability issues in 16 different functional focus areas, all with a common goal to improve the interoperability of people, processes and technology between the Alliance and its partners. More than 1250 scientists, engineers, operators and managers from 29 nations have conducted over 4000 tests to improve interoperability between 277 deployable capabilities
At yesterday’s CWIX VIP day, representatives from the NATO Alliance, its partner nations as well as Science & Technology organizations and Industry participants witnessed how CWIX helps interoperability between NATO Allies and partners. For the Alliance, information sharing in real-time among coalition partners is of utmost importance to be efficient and effective in all military operations.
“Collecting information is not good enough. Information needs to be understood and effectively shared with decision makers to speed up decision making.” said Admiral Manfred Nielson, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Transformation at NATO Allied Command Transformation. That is why CWIX and the NATO Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) Trial UNIFIED VISION are linked as both events strive to connect NATO and national capabilities to be far more collaborative, dynamic and relevant in future operations.
“The next step is to share information between NATO and national assets in a persistent manner rather than providing information intermittently.” Nielson highlighted.
NATO strives to leverage the capacity of the Alliance through real-time collection of data and information, and the ability to connect and disseminate that data using NATOs consultation, command and control processes and technology. NATO Allied Command Transformation (ACT) manages the annual CWIX cycle on behalf of the North Atlantic Council and the Military Committee.
LGEN Andrzej Fałkowski, representing the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces, highlighted that Poland is very proud of being the host nation for this NATO premier interoperability event. He also added: “The presence of allied forces in Poland has increased during the last couple of years – especially after the NATO Warsaw Summit. This is a good example why Allies need to remain interoperable that also shows how important smooth communication between our systems is. There is no effective cooperation without interoperability. This is the key to our common security.”
Military applications for cyber, interoperable communication and information systems (CIS), additive manufacturing or 3D printing are three examples of the functional focus areas.
Following the Warsaw Summit declaration cyberspace was established as NATO’s newest domain for military operations in addition to existing operational domains of air, sea and land. Cyber experts with associated national capabilities from 9 Nations and three international organizations explored and experimented with concepts and ideas to understand and alleviate risk to future Alliance interoperability requirements in the cyberspace domain. Activities focused on achieving cyber resiliency, cyber federation frameworks, forensic investigation methods and development of the cyber common operational picture. Participating nations have worked together in order to share tactics, techniques and procedures to improve the detection of cyber incidents and the response time needed to identify and resolve new emergent security threats.
Modern combat operations require interoperable communication and information systems down to the lowest tactical level. At CWIX, The Netherlands, Germany and Finland further improved their communications ability. Experts experimented with capabilities to improve federated connectivity in voice, data, and chat. The aim is to plug & play national assets in a NATO operation and be able to communicate immediately with multinational partners. CWIX puts a premium on achieving comprehensive situational awareness among coalition partners in almost real time to increase the operational effectiveness of NATO and the efficiency of our forces; CWIX is therefore of utmost importance to future military operations.
Logistics is about moving, maintaining and sustaining military forces. Traditionally, this involves physical items, large forces and long distances. Digital equipment and supplies, printable on demand, weigh less and can be moved more quickly. This is the rationale for Norway and USA to experiment with Additive Manufacturing or 3D printing. A US Marine Corps Unmanned Autonomous Vehicle (UAV) is being printed by Norway and flown at CWIX. However, since the value of the product shifts from material to digital, the challenge to be solved is: How to protect the digital value from creation of the 3D file to the printed product using blockchain technology (more about blockchain and its military application here).
For the eighth consecutive year, CWIX has been hosted at the Joint Force Training Centre (JFTC) in Bydgoszcz, Poland. Brigadier General Ladislav Jung, the JFTC Deputy Commander/ Chief of Staff, highlighted that the Centre, with its unique modern infrastructure, CIS systems and experienced staff, is an ideal location for CWIX. He also added: “For these three weeks, Bydgoszcz has not only been ‘the NATO Capital of Poland’ – as we name the city due to high presence of NATO units located here. I think we can say that during CWIX, Bydgoszcz is also ‘the capital of NATO interoperability’.
Additionally, General Jung underlined that during this year’s event, JFTC was not only the host of CWIX – it also actively participated in testing. “We lead the Operational Command focus area and Joint Vignette Working Group to provide the Operational flavour to the exercise and coordinate activities across the Land, Air and Maritime domains. We also co-lead the Modelling and Simulation Focus area together with the NATO Modelling and Simulation Centre of Excellence.” – said JFTC Deputy Commander.
CWIX brings people, processes and technology of NATO and partner nations together. Interoperability is the ability for multinational units to act together and is the foundation for all NATO operations. At CWIX, NATO and partner nations have many reasons to invest in interoperability, the following video summarizes some of them: