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By Scott R. Gourley

12 Dec 08. The U.S. Army is wrapping up “Spiral E” of its Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiments (AEWE) test at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Formerly called Air Assault Expeditionary Force (AAEF) experiments, the AEWE process began in 2004 and is designed to provide “a repeatable, credible, validated venue for network-enabled small unit experimentation focused on emerging technologies and concepts in a live field environment providing operational insights across the DOTMLPF [doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leader development, personnel, and facilities] [domains], supporting AEWE Campaign Objectives and Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTP) for the current and future force.”

The annual experiments are managed by the Maneuver Battle Lab (MBL) at Fort Benning, in coordination with U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC).

The AEWE live “force-on-force” experimentation process allows service planers to take lessons learned during earlier rounds of constructive and virtual testing and test those lessons using real soldiers in the field.

Service descriptions note that the live experimentation “Spirals” provide “infrastructure, maneuver area, and fully instrumented ranges and facilities conducting a distributed/dispersed experiment over a 225-square-mile training area. AEWE experiment objectives support critical Army efforts meeting the challenges of finding ways to shorten material development, supporting the evolution of relevant doctrine and TTP’s, and supporting both the current force/fight while examining future force requirements and constructs through a linked campaign of experimentation.”

As examples, they point to earlier Spirals of the AAEF / AEWE process that allowed early testing of selected Future Combat Systems C4ISR networking elements with company-sized forces.

This year’s “Spiral E” testing, which focused on approximately 40 new technology elements, was conducted by Soldiers in EXFOR [Experiment Force] (A Company, 1st Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment), based at Fort Benning.

Army planners expect that the current “Spiral E” field testing “will inform Future Combat System (FCS) to Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) acceleration, inform PM-FCS, Future Force Integration Directorate (FFID) and PM Land Warrior on weight, power, form-fit protection of the EXFOR Soldier load, Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) and Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) integration; provide Soldier feedback on protection and power, enhanced night vision capability for PM-FCS, FFID, and PM Land Warrior; inform and validate the optimum manning, organization, and structure of the company to PM-FCS, FFID, PM Land Warrior and TCM-Soldier; provide input to PM-FCS on the optimum mix/allocation of UAS at Battalion and below; inform FFID and PM-FCS on the impact of UAS at company level; develop TTPs for Battle Command Systems, UAS, UGV, and Unmanned Ground Sensors (UGS) supporting doctrine and training development to inform AEWE strategic partners; provide insights to FCS to IBCT on BOIP, DOTMLPF issues/questions, and Warfighting issues/questions.”

Originally envisioned as a four year experimentation process [ending in 2007], the AEWE was recently extended through “Spiral J” (Fiscal Year 2013).

Primary AEWE funding is provided under the Army Concept Development and Experimentation Plan, which recently included justification comments describing the Spirals as “the Army’s principle live discovery examinations to determine impacts on leaders from increased mental demands and complexities from enhanced situational awareness, requirements of sensor planning, employment and management of accelerated decision cycles in a network-enabled force, training requirements of new technologies (e.g. Unmanned Ground Vehicles, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, and battle command systems and communica

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