JWID –SEARCHING FOR AN IDENTITY
21 Jun 04. Lt-Colonel Tim John, the Officer in charge of JWID 04 gave an overview of JWID and its aims over the next years. Sadly this year’s JWID had the feel of ‘look don’t touch’,’ as we were rushed through one HQ demo, back to the tent for another Q&A, back to another HQ demo. “The standing aim of the UK JWID is to enhance interoperability and UK expeditionary forces capability during deployed operations through the use of networked command information systems. As one of the coalition partners, the UK will participate in coalition and NATO interoperability trials from the UK JWID site at DSTL Portsdown West.”
Then we were told that, unlike other years, we could not see all the demos, much to the chagrin of BATTLESPACE subscriber Avaya who had a demo set up and ready for us to see! The secrecy of JWID has intensified under the stewardship of DSTL and QinetiQ to the point that Chief Engineer, Viv Danks of QinetiQ asked the Editor whether he had his military escort to take him to the lavatory! We returned to lunch back at the tent and away home.
Although Colonel John underlined the usefulness of JWID in the past and its successes in the acquisition of equipment he was quick to point out that the ‘Golden Nugget’ principle of buying six systems directly after JWID practiced at the US JWID and briefly in the UK had been shelved due to ‘acquisition complexities’. When asked by Brigadier (Retd.) Gerald Blakey to list successes, he said that this was difficult due to procedures but did point to a success by Thales in supplying a Mission Planning System for Op Tellic direct from JWID and Cunning Running in the supply of software and ESRI’s mapping solutions. He also pointed out that a great deal of exposure at JWID was given to small SME’s to the larger corporations, but, at this year’s JWID there was a distinct lack of presence from the big hitters, BAE SYSTEMS, Boeing, General Dynamics (UK), who were reputedly too busy with BOWMAN, EADS, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. We were promised a bigger response from all these in 05 as a number were involved in complex contracts.
But, can industry afford the cost of JWID which although cheap to set up, requires a team on the ground for six weeks and what real benefit is gained from the exercise particularly if the press is limited in exposure to the trails. We were not allowed to speak to either of the DII teams in spite of a strong press presence from the RADII team, headed by CSC.
Tim John said that, “JWID provides the opportunity for government, private industry and coalition partners to demonstrate C4ISR solutions that focus on enhancing coalition interoperability in a simulated war fighting scenario. There will be a link to the BAE-led NITEWORKS programme and the DPA is reputed to be considering a ’Quick Wins IPT’ based on JWID.”
He continued, “One inherent weakness perceived of JWID is the lack of clear identification of initiatives. The procurement system precludes us from doing this well. However with the advent of the Acquisition For NEC (AFNEC) review due out this summer,. Things may change to have a two speed acquisition process, one for big ticket items and one for C4ISR systems requiring a speedier response. In addition the network, which is usually dismantled every year will be kept open to provide part of the Federated Battlefield Network.”
Overall, JWID 2004 involves 25 countries, military services and government agencies participating in a scripted scenario over a global network. All this will take place during June at several locations around the world.
JWID includes interoperability trials at various levels, including national, coalition and NATO trials. US-specific Interoperability Trials (USTs) will be conducted to assess and evaluate technologies and capabilities to exchange information among agencies, services and US Northern Command (NORTHCOM), the host combatant commander for 2004 and 2005. A