FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — The Mission Command Battle Lab‘s (MCBL) Science and Technology branch hosted a demonstration of new and emerging technologies to the U.S. Army Combined Army Center (CAC) community, February 6-7.
The event coincided with the Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC) Unified Challenge seminar wargame, January 29 – February 7 in the Mission Command Battle Lab at the Capability Development Integration Directorate (CDID). Technology demonstrations were intended to build awareness of mission command-related emerging technologies and to garner perspectives on their applicability to military problems.
More than 250 people from across Fort Leavenworth, including the 160 seminar participants, had an opportunity to observe firsthand new and emerging technologies during the two-day event. Attendees were informed on potential solutions to increase our warfighting capability, and how these solutions linked to the Army Warfighting Challenges, Design Methodology and the Military Decision Making Process. During the demonstration, participants were able to interact with commercial entities and members of the Army’s Science and Technology enterprise.
These organizations were also able to showcase their technologies during the event: Communications and Development Engineering Center (CERDEC); Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC); Cole Engineering Services, Inc. (CESI); LGS Innovations; Hexagon Geospatial Corp.; Bitvore Precision Intelligence Corp; and NVIDIA Corporation; Samsung Corp.
The demonstration highlighted Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a critical capability and key technology area in use across many commercial industries. To better understand how AI applications offered significant opportunities, Bitvore and NVIDIA displayed technologies that showcased different AI disciplines.
Bitvore specializes in harvesting unstructured data from across a variety of sources and produces a report customized to the end user. The intent is to enable users to focus their time and effort toward the most relevant pieces of information.
NVIDIA is a leading graphics processing units provider commonly employed in today’s driverless technologies and machine learning applications. They displayed a chip able to conduct object and facial recognition – key tasks that machines may be able to execute with greater accuracy on the battlefields of tomorrow.
CERDEC provided two demonstrations consisting of the Automated Planning Framework (APF) and the Tactical Computing Environment (TCE). Commanders and their staff can benefit from APF as it offers a common set of tools guiding soldiers through each step of the Military Decision Making Process. Not only does this capability enable soldiers to see where they are in the process, but it also provides them a simulation capability to see how their plan would unfold against the templated enemy.
Maj. Gen. James J. Mingus. Director, the Mission Command Center of Excellence, said, “Placing AI on top of planning tools could really start to accelerate the decision-making process.”
TCE is a software environment installed on mobile devices, untethering leaders from the command post and enabling mission command on the move. TCE facilitates user collaboration by placing tablets in proximity to one another to create a large map, or mirror the same view for shared understanding.
The tablets also have a hands-free voice command function where users can perform some tasks without touching the device. The hands-free capability could be important if you have to keep your hands on your weapon. These applications optimize staff and commander situational awareness, situational understanding, and decision-making capabilities seamlessly across any operating environment.
ERDC displayed the Geospatial Repository and Data Management (GRiD) system. It is a cloud based geospatial database for the storage, processing, visualization, and dissemination of 2D and 3D geospatial products. It demonstrated a range of capabilities designed to bring geospatial analysis to the lowest echelons. The key is the capability to ‘chip’ out, or download only small snippets users need instead of downloading an entire imagery file.
The files, which are then used for detailed planning, decrease file sizes from terabytes to megabytes — critical to reducing band-with requirements if you have limited network access. The tool enables soldiers to collect, analyze, and exploit imagery at the lowest level, a capability normally reserved for brigade or above formations.
Cole Engineering demonstrated One Semi-Automated Forces (OneSAF) integration with Sitaware. This proof of concept demonstrated two capabilities. First, OneSAF could run on a laptop for tactical simulations. Second, the functionality was embedded into Sitware, the base software for the Command Post Computing Environment (CPCE).
Although the simulation still requires longer processing times, incorporating advances in high performance and graphics computing could reduce simulation run times. Incorporating simulations is important to help leaders understand where gaps or risks exist in executing a given plan. Cole Engineering also demonstrated how a third party developer could apply the Sitaware Software Development Kit to create additional capabilities for future CPCE versions.
Lt. Col. Shermoan Daiyaan, Product Manager, Tactical Mission Command, said, “This capability is proof positive developers can add applications to our future Mission Command capability.”
The Survey Network Awareness and Reconnaissance Evolved (SNARE) application was the focal point of LGS display of innovative electronic-warfare cyber capabilities. SNARE is a wireless survey application that detects and identifies all 2G, 3G, and 4G dominant wireless standards, providing users with superb situational awareness of the electromagnetic spectrum.
The M.App X is a Hexagon Geospatial Corp cloud-based approach to geospatial analysis. It enables distributed operations of complex computing by rerouting traffic away from low bandwidth areas, while providing tools for viewing, analyzing and reporting geospatial information.
Samsung brought elements of Harmon to display immersive and semi-immersive environments using virtual reality headsets. This capability’s intent is to provide mobile computing technology that could be used to train soldiers outside of traditional classrooms, such as “austere environments.”
Samsung also displayed Dex, a docking station for S8 Galaxy phones. Dex provides ports for a mouse, keyboard, storage, and a screen, enabling the phone to be the computer processor.
The MCBL technology demonstration was highly successful and highlighted MCBL’s role in mission command. Col. Craig Berryman, Director, Mission Command Battle Lab, said, “We need to continue to bring the latest technologies to show what is already becoming the art of the possible.”
Events like this not only provide a venue to see new technologies that are emerging, but also to provide the community an opportunity to understand and appreciate what is under development across the Army, academia, and commercial firms. MCBL will continue to highlight the importance of mission command as the lead integrator of all warfighting functions.