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The 805th Combat Training Squadron, also known as the Shadow Operations Center-Nellis (ShOC-N) participated in the most recent Air Force Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) Onramp #2 exercise Aug. 31 – Sept. 3, 2020.
As an integral part of the ABMS effort, the ShOC-N is focused on meeting the Chief of Staff of the Air Force’s goal of connecting of sensors to weapons through a secure data network allowing rapid decision making through Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2).
“To win the contested, high-end fight, we need to accelerate how we field critical technologies today,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr. “Rapid, iterative experimenting ultimately places relevant capability in warfighters’ hands faster. We cannot afford to slow our momentum on ABMS.”
The ShOC-N set-up the virtual environment for vendors and Department of Defense to successfully operate in and connect with external agencies across the United States to provide a common operating picture during the exercise.
“ABMS will help create internet-like data sharing across our joint force to fight at internet speeds. Rapid development and testing cycles are critical to fail, learn, and leap ahead of advancing threats,” said Dr. Will Roper, assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics.
The ShOC-N operational C2 subject matter experts were embedded from the beginning of planning efforts to give advice on JADC2 efforts.
“All of ShOC-N’s directorates supported the experimentation of these new technologies, as the vendors tested their connectivity and ability to provide situational awareness of the NORTHCOM [U.S. Northern Command] multi-domain battlefield,” said Mr. Barian Smith, ShOC-N/ABMS operations lead planner. “The companies put together a demonstration so the Chief Architect Integration Office can assess the technology and evaluate if we can use this capability for the warfighter.”
Although all the information from the field tests was fed into ABMS, the actual events happening were accomplished in real-time and real-life movements by forces around the continental United States.
“Absolutely no models and simulations [were used], so all ABMS events feature live aircraft, personnel, weapons, and [training] targets,” said Smith. “The actual shooter operation took place at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, but all the data was fed back into the ShOC-N, and the ShOC bridged that data to the Blue Force decision-makers in the smart center at Andrews AFB, Maryland.”
During ABMS, secure communication was set-up by ShOC-N OneChat developers. The team rapidly added features throughout the event to provide classified and unclassified communications to over 100 users simultaneously.
“By using the organic Air Force collaboration tool OneChat, Onramp #2 users were able to share large amounts of classified data, specifically IP addresses and precise protocols compared to Onramp #1, where these communications were handled telephonically,” according to Air Force Maj. Jeffrey Truitt, ShOC-N innovation director. “OneChat allows concise communication, allowing large amounts of data to reach the decision makers accelerating the kill chain process.”
Heading up the interoperability, the lead Joint Interface Control Officer (JICO) ensured datalink planning and execution were coordinated. ShOC-N network engineers, information assurance experts, and systems administrators established an environment for ABMS OR2 and future ABMS events hosted at the ShOC-N.
“Through participation and lessons learned in the onramps, we are growing our knowledge on what is required to produce a JADC2/Multi-Domain Common Operating Picture designed to bring all the same information to make faster and more efficient command decisions for the warfighter,” said Mr. Jason “JJ” Jensen, ShOC-N/ABMS JICO. “I am confident and motivated to ensure that ShOC-N/805th CTS and the 505 CCW [505th Command and Control Wing] will be at the forefront and ‘go-to’ entity of the joint forces for JADC2 operational requirements that have been laid out by our Air Force leadership.”
The ABMS OR2 attempted to test 28 capabilities, known as the “Ones,” spread throughout the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of operations. OR2 brought connections and systems together that would never communicate under normal circumstances, or in the expeditious timeline as required for the event.
“The high-end fight we anticipate is more lethal, disruptive, and cross-domain than we’ve ever fought. To meet the challenge, we at the ShOC-N are building a persistent experimentation environment for joint and coalition warfighters to gain exposure to emerging technologies and concepts of operations,” said Air Force Lt. Col. David Spitler, 805th CTS/ShOC-N commander. “Furthermore, we are focused on instrumenting the environment so we can provide a data-driven debrief capability to our military and industry partners. If we are going to employ machine-to-machine kill chains, we are going to have to professionalize a data debrief protocol similar to the way we already build the world’s best aviators.”
According to Air Force Col. Richard Dickens, 505 CCW commander, Hurlburt Field, Florida, the 805 CTS and 505 CCW enabled the defense of the American homeland against a simulated cruise missile attack using air- and ground-launched missiles and a high-velocity bullet. The cruise missile attack was represented by six BQM-167 target drones at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, which simulated a cruise missile’s flight characteristics.
“To achieve the reality of Joint All-Domain Command and Control, we need to continue connecting all services in all domains. Our team is fully engaged with building the architecture for the internet of military things as we rapidly grow connectivity and compatibility,” said Dickens. “It’s very encouraging to see real results and tangible progress from their efforts via the ABMS Onramps every four months.”
U.S. Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines prepare a M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System at a simulated austere base during the Advanced Battle Management System exercise on Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Sept. 3, 2020. The ABMS is an interconnected battle network – the digital architecture or foundation – which collects, processes and shares data relevant to warfighters in order to make better decisions faster in the kill chain. In order to achieve all-domain superiority, it requires that individual military activities not simply be de-conflicted, but rather integrated – activities in one domain must enhance the effectiveness of those in another domain. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Cory D. Payne)
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