The 2024 edition of Coalition Warrior Interoperability eXploration, eXperimentation, eXamination eXercise, or CWIX, has just concluded at NATO’s Joint Force Training Centre in Bydgoszcz, Poland. The Headquarters Supreme Allied Command Transformation-led annual event was held between 3 and 21 June. It gathered over 2500 experts representing 42 Alliance and Partner Nations and Agencies who tested over 480 Command & Control capabilities and IT services.

For 25 years, CWIX has continuously driven interoperability forward while adapting to meet the Alliance’s needs amidst shifts in the global security landscape and advancements in technology. CWIX 24 added another important chapter to the NATO premier interoperability-testing exercise’s history. It also proved its significant operational relevance. 


Key venue for enabling Multi-Domain Operations and NATO’s Digital Transformation

Over the course of the exercise, NATO and nations were testing, verifying, validating and, sometimes, re-testing technology and standards needed to exchange and share information across all domains, and thus to enhance situational awareness for data-driven decision-making. These are the building blocks of NATO’s military future – Multi-Domain Operations.

 “CWIX is of paramount importance to NATO because it allows us to improve our Military Instrument of Power by accelerating its scope and pace. Through this exercise, we can speed up capability delivery, address shortfalls, and enable Multi Domain Operations today and in the future”, said General Philippe Lavigne, the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, opening the Distinguished Visitors Day held on 19 June. He also added: “By testing and improving the interoperability of Our Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance systems, CWIX ensures that our forces can deploy effectively together and communicate “fluently” as a unified fighting force”.

With over 26 000 tests executed in 18 Focus Areas, this year’s CWIX was the largest and most complex to date. The testing was conducted in three exercise zones representing 1) cross-domain activities, 2) standardization and compliance, and 3) Federated Mission Networking. The stable, multi-domain and secure testing environment offered to participants allowed them to ‘try-fail-fix and try again” to implement standards and specifications into fielded and near-fielded Command & Control systems. It also allowed for designing digital interoperability into future capabilities that is cheaper and faster than retrofitting interoperability into capabilities after they are fielded.

Interoperability and readiness – two of the CWIX core pillars – are crucial to the success of the Alliance as they allow national forces to deploy together, be effective from the very start of an operation and communicate effectively as one Multi Domain-enabled fighting force. CWIX 24 also exploited the human element of interoperability: building trust and confidence in people, processes, and technology, while fostering a focused, collaborative environment across Nations, branches, and domains.


JFTC. Bridging warfare development with warfighters

NATO Joint Force Training Centre has been “the Home of CWIX” since 2011. With its state-of-the-art venue for experimentation, testing and innovation, modern IT-platforms and the only NATO owned Battle Laboratory, JFTC provides an ideal environment for CWIX. Over the years, the Centre has also become an important in CWIX, providing expertise and Subject Matter Experts in several Focus Areas and Working Groups.

The JFTC primary focus are NATO readiness exercises. As a key venue for NATO such exercises, JFTC provides another important value to the process of achieving interoperability – a bridge between warfare development activities and warfighters.

“JFTC is a link, with our exercises, between warfare development, future Multi-Domain Operations data centric approach and the current needs of the warfighters and readiness (…) Our aim is to be more interoperable, more innovative and more cohesive,” highlighted Major General Norbert Wagner, the Joint Force Training Centre Commander, addressing the CWIX 24 participants.

The need for implementing solutions worked out at CWIX into NATO readiness exercises, such as those conducted by JFTC at the tactical level, was highlighted during the CWIX 24 Distinguished Visitors Day as an important element on the way to achieving Allied interoperability.