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By Scott R. Gourley

A half dozen US Army battle labs, supported by Air Force participants, recently conducted several extensive modeling activities that encompassed a myriad airspace/battlespace command and control issues.

Under the designation of “Earth, Wind and Fire 2007” (EWF07), the battle lab activity represented a continuing expansion of the battlespace model.

“We started out and said that we wanted to do an experiment that was for a Fires Brigade,” explained George Durham, Director of the Fires Battle Lab at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. “Well, when you think about a Fires Brigade, you realize that it doesn’t just ‘sit out there and do something.’ It does something to support other things. So we were looking at Fort Rucker [Air Maneuver Battle Lab], and they had the same dilemma. They wanted to do some things for an Aviation Brigade but they had the same problem, which was ‘How do you do an experiment with just an Aviation Brigade?’ So we decided that if we worked together we could support each other. Then we brought in Fort Bliss [Air and Missile Defense Battle Lab] and Fort Gordon [Battle Command Lab]. That was last year and it was the first year we did it. Then this year, the same team was assembled, plus the Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) Battle Lab [Huntsville, Alabama]. So we have got multiple battle labs working together.”

In addition to the Army battle labs, EWF07 also included participation from Army laboratories, like the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) at Picatinny Arsenal, the United States Air Force. And industry.

“The idea behind [EWF07] is that none of the battle labs have a large pot of money but collectively, when we put all our funds together, and we all work together, we can put together a legitimate experiment where we can all look at our stuff, combine resources – Battle Lab Collaborative Simulation Environment – is a network which allows us to connect to the other battle labs,” Durham said.

He continued, So [Fort] Rucker, for instance, is out there with their aviation model. We’re here at Fort Sill with our FireSim XXI model. SMDC has got their model. So does Fort Bliss. We work the technical issues and then run a scenario where everybody is using their model in a common scenario that also allows them to work their particular issues.”

“It’s a neat concept when you think about it,” he said. “Because normally when you think about an experiment everybody packs their bags and goes to a central location. And if you try to use one model that does everything then nobody is happy. Here we’ve got the majority of people staying at their home station. We’re the hub. And everybody is working together using their models and their expertise to answer their issues. And it is done in a collaborative environment.”

“It’s not the first time but we think we’ve refined it a little bit,” he added.

As an example of that refinement, Durham explained that 2006 had focused on Fire Support issues but that this year’s scope was expanded to encompass Airspace Management, “Because Airspace Management is really a ‘tough nut,’ with UAVs, fires, any number of issues.”

“We’re very proud of the fact that we’ve got the Air Force working with us,” he said. “Last year we had one Air Force observer who came down, thought it was a good experiment, and wrote back that the Air Force needed to get involved. This year we have expanded that and we’ve got three major headquarters participating. And if this thing comes off the way I hope it will and we do it again next year we will REALLY have Air Force participation. When I say that I mean that we’re trying to get Air Force models in here. Right now we’ve got ‘white cells.’ The next step is to bring in an Air Force model so you can say, ‘Okay, as you’re clearing airspace, use your stuff and then we can get to it.”

The expanded Air Force participation is cr

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