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12 Mar 20. The US Army roughs out its $1bn cyber training contract. The US Army released its draft proposal March 10 for a contract that could worth as much as $1bn to provide cyber training for the Department of Defense. The Cyber Training, Readiness, Integration, Delivery and Enterprise Technology (TRIDENT) is a contract vehicle to offer a more streamlined approach for procuring the military’s cyber training capabilities.
The largest part of that contact will be the Persistent Cyber Training Environment (PCTE). PCTE is an online client in which members of U.S. Cyber Command’s cyber mission force can log on from anywhere in the world for training and to rehearse missions. Cyber Command leaders have said the component is one of the organization’s most critical needs. Currently, no integrated or robust cyber training environment exists.
The procurement is being organized by the Army on behalf of the Defense Department.
According to slides from a December industry day, a final solicitation is slated for the end of second quarter 2020 with an award expected at the beginning of 2021.
“The objective of Cyber TRIDENT is to provide for the managed evolution of the PCTE Platform and to provide support across all facets of the Acquisition Life Cycle for PCTE,” the documents read. “The goal of Cyber TRIDENT is to continue development operations with the integration of software and hardware enhancements from third party vendors as technology insertion occurs while conducting testing, providing periodic system updates, and fielding technology upgrades of PCTE to the Cyber Mission Forces (CMF) through an agile cadence. The vision is to leverage the existing PCTE baseline and investment in cyber training software and related infrastructure through Associate Contractor Agreements (ACAs) or subcontracts with current platform vendors.”
The notice also describes how the program manager envisions management, maintenance, and evolution of the PCTE platform. This includes platform architecture and product management, agile development and delivery systems engineering processes, development and automation, hardware and software infrastructure management, user event support, development operations (DevOps) environment management, PCTE infrastructure tool management, help desk support and onsite and remote support.
Using what are known as Cyber Innovation Challenges to award smaller companies a piece of the program, the program office is already incrementally building a platform, which is in use and is helping to prove out the concept for PCTE, refine requirements for the final contract, and reduce risk.
Officials and members of industry have indicated that the awardee of TRIDENT will inherit the final prototype version of PCTE, dubbed Version C, and advance that forward.
Industry officials noted that the draft document doesn’t include many surprises and that DoD leaders have been receptive to feedback, through the prototyping process and industry engagements. (Source: Defense News)
12 Mar 20. US to modify Exercise Defender-Europe 20 amid Covid-19 outbreak. The US Army-led joint, multinational training Exercise Defender-Europe 20 will be modified in the wake of the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. The exercise will see a reduction in the number of US participants with associated activities modified accordingly.
Approximately 20,000 soldiers from across the US Army Reserves, active duty, and national guard units in 15 states are participating in the exercise.
Defender-Europe 20 is the largest deployment of soldiers from the US to Europe in more than 25 years. The exercise was aimed to demonstrate the US Army’s capability to deploy, move and sustain different operation areas, as well as redeploying back to the US. In an update, the US European Command (EUCOM) said: “The health protection of our force, and that of our allies and partners, is a top concern.
“We take the coronavirus outbreak seriously and are confident that by making this important decision we’ll continue to do our part to prevent the further spread of the virus, while still maximising our efforts to advance our alliances and partnerships and enhancing our comprehensive readiness to address any crisis or contingency.
“As we work through the arrangements with our allies and partners, we’ll provide additional updates.”
The Defender-Europe 20 exercise saw the arrival of first combat power equipment at the port of Bremerhaven in Germany on 20 February.
The exercise will also involve over 20,000 pieces of equipment in linked exercises across the theatre.
Defender-Europe 20 exercise has been planned and executed by 21st Theater Sustainment Command and the 598th Transportation Brigade, Surface Deployment and Distribution Command. (Source: army-technology.com)
04 Mar 20. U.S. Navy First Convoy Exercise in Decades. As part of the largest deployment of US soldiers to Europe in 25 years, Exercise Defender-Europe 20, the U.S. Navy exercises a cross-Atlantic convoy operation. Carrier Strike Group (CSG) USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, using the transit from Norfolk to the Mediterranean, “cleared” together with a submarine and P-8A Poseidon the deployment area. Possibly, the (not specified) submarine mentioned in the reports played the opposing force’s role. Photos of the U.S. Navy show the the TICONDEROGA class cruiser USS VELLA GULF (CG-72) escorting the roll-on/roll-off ship of the BOB HOPE class USNS BENAVIDEZ (T-AKR 306) operated by Military Sealift Command and the vehicle carrier MV RESOLVE. The port of destination of the transporters is Vlissingen (Netherlands).
Defender-Europe 20 is intended to test the ability of the U.S. forces and their allies to deploy forces and equipment from the United States and transfer them to their theatre of operations within Europe. During the exercise, which is led by the U.S. Army Europe and involves 16 Allies, 20,000 soldiers, 13,000 vehicles and other equipment or 1.3 million square feet (approx. 117,000 square meters) of army equipment are to be transported to Europe from (five) ports on the U.S. West Coast or the Gulf of Mexico – and back again.
The convoy operation is intended to validate the (complicated) command and control (C2) arrangements that extend across the Atlantic. After all, the U.S. Department of Defense estimates that 90% of the required supplies are transported by sea. Responsibilities overlap. In Europe, Naval Forces Europe (headquarted in Naples, Italy) is responsible for the maritime part of the operations, i.e. Defender-Europe 20. The 6th U.S. fleet, which is responsible for the eastern Atlantic (and the Mediterranean), is to be integrated into the command structures. The safety of the sea routes in the Atlantic is shared by the 6th and 2nd Fleets. The latter is not a “fleet in being”. Naval units, amphibious forces and aircraft, are placed under its command according to their location and mission. Depending on the situation or on order, Commander 2nd Fleet (C2F) conducts exercises and operations within the area of responsibility of the US European Command, so to speak as an expeditionary fleet, thus providing NAVEUR with a strategic reserve or an additional manoeuvre arm to support that forces can be dynamically deployed.
Transatlantic Command and Control structures
“The coordination between NAVEUR, 2nd Fleet, and 6th Fleet are indicative of a seamless Atlantic Ocean,” affirmed Admiral James G. Foggo III, Commander of the United States Naval Forces Europe (NAVEUR)/Naval Forces Africa and Commander of the Allied Joint Force Command Naples. “This exercise allows us to sharpen our ability to move critical resources across the Atlantic, from the United States to Europe.”
The coordination requirements are even more challenging as the Military Sealift Command (MSC) must be involved. It operates over 130 ships and is responsible for the supply (of the world-wide operating U.S. fleets) and transport tasks.
Beyond these concerns at the operational and strategic level, there are of course also tactical requirements in the training of the command teams of merchant and warships in this form of cooperation.
Captain Hans E. Lynch, Commander Military Sealift Command Atlantic (TF 83): “In a real-world conflict, much of the military equipment must still go by sealift, which makes convoy operations a critical skill set to maintain and practice”. And continued elsewhere: “In the last five years, there has been an increased emphasis on including Merchant Marine shipping in large-scale exercises to enhance tactical proficiency. Exercises that incorporate convoy operations are an extension of that ongoing tactical training.” Concerning Defender-Europe 20, his focus is to identify weaknesses in order to work on improving convoy command and control capabilities. The benefits are already obvious: participating in the U.S. Navy’s planning process enhances mutual understanding and promotes cooperation. Ultimately, deficits could be identified and eliminated together. In addition, the Commodore emphasized the value of the individual training of his bridge crews, who would face higher demands than usual.
Although there are worlds between the dimensions of the convoy operations in World War II and today’s exercise in connection with Defender-Europe 20, the U.S. Navy, far from some political developments in Washington, seems to be aware of the supply task and to take it on. The last convoy exercise is said to have taken place in 1986. Note: The measures in the Persian Gulf to protect shipping traffic there are not convoy operations.
The availability of vessels for Maritime Sealift Command was the subject of an audit in 2019. In his report presented on January 22, 2020, the Inspector General of the US Department of Defence criticised the operational readiness of the 15 ships owned by the MSC and the different criteria for assessing the operational readiness of the ships operated by the Maritime Administration (MARAD) for support and transport operations (35 ships owned by the Department of Transportation). (Source: ESD Spotlight)
10 Mar 20. Russia launches Crimea live-fire exercise. Russia’s Black Sea Fleet Army Corp has begun a live fire exercise in Crimea which will involve more than 250 different weapon systems. The exercise began on 10 March and has involved 1,000 troops stationed along the Crimean Peninsula, which was annexed by Russia from Ukraine in February-March 2014. TASS reported that the exercise is involving Grad multiple launch rocket systems, 122mm 2S1 Gvozdika self-propelled howitzers, 120mm D-30 howitzers, 120mm 2S9 ‘Nona-S’ self-propelled artillery guns, Sani and Podnos mortars. The exercise is expected to conclude at the end of March 2020 with a force-on-force tactical drill and an amphibious assault landing practice. (Source: Shephard)
10 Mar 20. Inzpire Limited deliver final Exercise IRON DRAGON at the Air Battlespace Training Centre. Inzpire Limited’s Collective Training Division has recently delivered the final Exercise IRON DRAGON under the Distributed Synthetic Air and Land Training (DSALT) programme.
Since 2017, Inzpire’s synthetic training experts have delivered three iterations of the week-long IRON DRAGON exercise, providing divisional level training at the Air Battlespace Training Centre at RAF Waddington. The Exercise content has developed over the three-year period, with lessons learned from iterations one and two culminating in the design and delivery of the most recent Exercise.
Over the three years, Exercise IRON DRAGON prepared personnel for future military exercises both in the U.K. and the United States and enabled trainees to develop skills in tactics, procedures, drills, and processes across Joint Fires and ISR domains. Personnel were taught how to operate within their cells and the Exercise presented them with realistic challenges that they are likely to face in future exercises and operations.
Exercise IRON DRAGON 2020 provided training to 3rd (United Kingdom) Division. During IRON DRAGON 2020, exercise personnel also included allies from the United States 75th Field Artillery Brigade (United States) who provided insights in to how the training should be carried out to maximise learning potential ahead of future training in the US.
Bespoke training objectives
Throughout the three-year training period, 3rd (UK) Division set their own training objectives which Inzpire’s experts have used to create tailored Exercises. To ensure future military requirements were met, the Exercises were designed to incorporate other British Army personnel including 3 Army Air Corps and Offensive Support Group.
To enhance this bespoke training offering, before IRON DRAGON 2020 Inzpire representatives visited Exercises taking place both in the United States and on Salisbury plain to enable them to replicate the challenges in a synthetic domain.
Inzpire’s experts integral to design and delivery of IRON DRAGON
Inzpire’s experts have been integral not only to the design but also to the delivery of these DRAGON Exercises with their expertise leading to the creation of a fully-immersive learning environment. Inzpire’s personnel used their array of military operational experience to role-play specific air, land and maritime platforms.
Inzpire’s team also ran the after action review for each mission. After action review is one of the most vital parts of the training, giving participating personnel the opportunity to discuss team challenges, frictions and lessons that had been experienced during the Exercise.
In a display of the Whole Force Approach in action, the Inzpire team worked alongside serving military, QinetiQ, Plexsys and Boeing personnel.
Commander 1st Artillery Brigade, Brigadier Mark Pullan MBE said: “The Inzpire Operations Team have repeatedly delivered a first-class immersive training environment, through which we have trained, tested and validated the Divisional Joint Air Ground Integration Cell (JAGIC). Supported by a highly effective framework simulation, the Ex IRON DRAGON series provides the perfect opportunity to conduct operational ‘sets and reps’, expedite the kill chain and enhance Joint Fires lethality.
“ The synchronisation of Integrated Action (IA), coupled with the optimisation of Divisional warfighting processes, remains the foundation for success and ensures that the Deep Battle remains genuinely focussed on ‘hunting and not fishing’. Alongside our international allies, Ex Warfighter (WFX) 21-4 in the USA, is now the aiming marker”.
Andy Fisher, Inzpire training executive, commented: “I am hugely impressed with the Inzpire Operations Team at the ABTC for building Exercise IRON DRAGON from scratch and for delivering three iterations so expertly. Their success is testament to the team’s deep understanding of the land requirement, honed over several years. As a company we are proud of our achievements and honoured to be entrusted with delivering this top end training to the British Army and coalition partners”.
10 Mar 20. UK Armed Forces to test new virtual reality training platform. The British Armed Forces is set to start testing a virtual reality (VR) training platform, which will feature gaming technology.
The UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) VR simulator platform has been built on the Fortnite gaming engine and will become part of a wider training programme for the armed forces.
Intended to help reduce costs, the new simulator features HD surround sound, realistic visuals and intuitive gesture control.
It will be used to provide realistic, intuitive and immersive training for more than 30 personnel simultaneously.
In addition, the platform will allow personnel to train any number of times as required prior to their deployment.
UK Ministry of Defence chief scientific advisor professor Dame Angela McLean said: “The MoD is committed to developing radical and innovative ways to combat the challenges our armed forces face today, and equip them for the threats of tomorrow.
“This new simulator is just one way we are bringing training into the next generation, using technology drawn from the world of gaming to support our troops in training.”
The UK Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) awarded £300,000 to software company SimCentric for the development of the system.
Parachute Regiment and officers at the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick, have already completed initial trials with the simulator.
The British Army, British Royal Air Force and British Royal Marines will conduct additional trials with the new system later this year.
SimCentric Innovation director and former British Army Air Corps officer Tom Constable said: “As a veteran and current reservist, I’m proud to help train the armed forces of the future.
“I joined the British Army in 2006 and later served in Afghanistan. This gave me a passion for building technology that will reduce the risk to our armed forces and improve the quality of training, with the ultimate aim of saving lives.” (Source: army-technology.com)
06 Mar 20. US and IDF terminate Exercise Juniper Cobra over coronavirus fears. The US European Command (USEUCOM) and the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) have terminated the remaining portion of Exercise Juniper Cobra 20 (JC20) over coronavirus fears. The announcement has been made in line with the recent Covid-19 guidelines issued by the Israeli Ministry of Health. The precautionary measure is intended to protect the health of all participants in the exercise.
Juniper Cobra is a combined missile defence exercise originally planned to be conducted between 3 and 13 March in Israel.
USEUCOM said in a statement: “We appreciate the hard work that our IDF partners have put into making this exercise happen. We look forward to the next iteration of Juniper Cobra.”
The exercise is a biennial event that was first conducted in 2001. It is part of long-standing bilateral agreements between the nations.
JC20 is the tenth iteration of the exercise and is designed to enhance interoperability, build a strategic relationship and contribute to regional stability. Approximately 2,500 US and 1,000 IDF personnel were set to take part in the drill.
The exercise usually involves computer simulations and live scenarios to allow USEUCOM and IDF to train together and learn from each other’s capabilities.
US Air Forces in Europe Africa deputy commander lieutenant general Steven Basham said: “The Juniper Cobra exercise is a visible demonstration of the strong and enduring military partnership between the US and Israel.
“This exercise will improve our combined ability to deter, and if needed, defend against missile threats by bolstering the integration and interoperability of our two forces.” (Source: airforce-technology.com)
06 Mar 20. In a thawing era, ICEX 2020 kicks off up north. Led by U.S. Submarine Forces, the three-week biennial exercise helps boat crews stay sharp in an Arctic region that officials believe is becoming increasingly vital to national security.
Based out of Camp Seadragon, a temporary military outpost on an ice floe in the Arctic Ocean, ICEX 2020 will focus on the fast attack subs Connecticut and Toledo, which arrived on the very cold scene this week.
The crews from the Seawolf-class Connecticut — homeported in Bremerton, Washington — and the Los Angeles-class Toledo, which sailed from Groton, Connecticut, are scheduled to make several Arctic transits and also surface near the North Pole and conduct training there, officials say.
ICEX 2020 plays out amid emerging competition for the Arctic in an era of melting sea ice, which is opening up new transportation and resource extraction opportunities across the region.
Russia has beefed up its robust polar presence in recent years. And while it’s not an Arctic nation, China also continues to telegraph increasing interest in exploiting the thawing region.
“The Arctic is a potential strategic corridor — between Indo-Pacific, Europe, and the U.S. homeland — for expanded competition,” SUBFOR commander Vice Adm. Daryl Caudle said in the release.
“ICEX 2020 provides the opportunity for the Submarine Force to demonstrate combat and tactical readiness for sustained Arctic operations in the unique and challenging Arctic environment.”
Torpedoman’s Mate 2nd Class (SS) Thomas J. Miletich, at bat, is all set for the first ball to be pitched in the first game played at the North Pole. Ready to stop anything that gets by Miletich is catcher Lt. j.g. Vincent Leahy. Both are crew members of Seadragon (SSN-584), taken on 15 September 1960. (National Archives)
The Navy’s underwater fleet has been exploring the Arctic for decades, punctuated by Nautilus — the world’s first operational nuclear-powered boat — and its famous submerged transit of the North Pole on Aug. 3, 1958.
Capable of housing and supporting 45 personnel, ICEX’s village on an ice floe gets its name from the Skate-class Seadragon, an icon from the same era of underwater Arctic pioneers.
Seadragon was the first sub to navigate under an iceberg and transit the Northwest Passage, according to U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command.
A steady stream of subs continued to venture north over the decades and that’s a key reason why SUBFOR’s personnel never lost their Arctic sea legs.
But in recent years the boat crews’ surface and aviation siblings have been asked to relearn how to operate in colder climes.
The aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman entered the Arctic Circle in late 2018, the first flattop to do that in nearly two decades, and Pentagon planners continue to explore homeporting an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in Alaska, too. (Source: Defense News)
Meggitt introduces the next generation of immersive training — the FATS® 180MIL.
Delivering 180° high definition projection and 5.1 surround sound, the FATS 180MIL increases training realism, heightening awareness and proper use of force responses. Three borderless screens fit into almost any space with at least a 10’ tall ceiling, providing a 150” X 84” (16:9 aspect ratio) borderless projection surface. It also includes:
- Military Validation – The same high-fidelity ballistic engine validated by the US Army, USMC and other military customers.
o Provides accurate ballistic characteristics in flight.
o Supports and enforces the proper fundamentals of marksmanship.
- Immersive Training – Supports both 3D Marksmanship and Judgmental training.
- Courseware – Delivered with full array of training courseware.
- Hit Detection System – Three digital cameras interface directly with Off-CPU real-time (OCR) processor used by FATS® 100 system for easy upgrade path.
- Projectors – Ultra short throw projectors provide freedom of movement, displaying stunning visuals in 180°environment.
- Low-Light Subsystem (optional) – Practice in simulated low-light conditions with hand-held and weapon-mounted flashlights.
- Rack – Uses same transportable rack as the FATS 100 system.
- Realistic Sounds – Self-powered audio system plays scenarios in 5.1 surround sound. Using directional sound effects board, the instructor can incorporate unsettling sounds from any direction, including barking dog, crying baby, gunshots and more to elevate situational awareness.
- Supports up to 60 simulated weapons, including FATS weapons and ammunition types. Up to 4 simulated weapons can be assigned to a single user.
With the FATS 180MIL, users feel they’re in the action, facing decision-making pressures while maintaining situational awareness.