Section 4: Protection
Army, Navy, and Air Force Leverage Capabilities to Improve Force Protection
Kevin Gaddie, Joint Fires Integration and Interoperability Team, U.S. Joint Forces Command
A base defense operations center (BDOC) responsible for monitoring the security of a U.S. forward operating base (FOB) spots an unknown civilian pickup truck that suddenly stops just outside of their perimeter and begins lobbing mortars at personnel within the FOB.
Alertly, the BDOC crew sounds an acoustic alarm notifying all personnel to take cover. At the same time, the BDOC forwards information about the attack to the brigade tactical operations center, which deploys its quick reaction force and eliminates the threat without any friendly casualties.
This event didn't take place in Iraq or Afghanistan; it is part of the training at the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) in Fort Polk, La. Focused on improving the force protection capabilities of military units preparing to deploy into combat, JRTC conducts the training with assistance from the Army's Counter-Rocket, Artillery, Mortar (C-RAM) Program Office, located in Huntsville, Ala., and U.S. Joint Forces Command's (USJFCOM's) Joint Fires Integration and Interoperability Team (JFIIT).
Part of this enhanced force protection capability, the Integrated Base Defense System of Systems (IBDSoS), integrates multiple systems and sensors from the Army, Navy, and Air Force to improve situational awareness and provides an audible warning of a potential attack on an FOB along with a capability to defeat the threat.
"The C-RAM initiative at JRTC has made significant strides in improving the force protection training for Army brigade combat teams (BCTs) as they prepare for eventual deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Chris Olson, C-RAM project lead at JFIIT. "Thanks to the terrific work done by the Army, Navy, and Air Force, this great training can occur at JRTC and will continue to lay the foundation for success. This training provides the maneuver commander with another tool to defeat the perimeter threat that we see today in theater."
"IBDSoS provides the FOB commander with an integrated set of capabilities that is designed to protect against and defeat perimeter threats," said Mitch Rosiere, senior IBDSoS trainer at JRTC. "IBDSoS is an integral part of C-RAM and provides the ground commander with additional capabilities to help defeat the insurgent threat and prevent loss of life."
JFIIT, in support of the C-RAM Program Office, is working to improve the integration of IBDSoS into existing joint fires and joint intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (JISR) capabilities to increase the force protection of U.S. and coalition FOBs.
The C-RAM Program Office has been providing IBDSoS support at JRTC since September 2005 and, with assistance from JFIIT, plans on using current IBDSoS capabilities to enhance joint fires and JISR integration to fully maximize base defense training at this and other combat training centers.
"The IBDSoS training that we've received here has been outstanding," said Army Sgt. Kijan Edwards, BDOC noncommissioned officer in charge from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C. "Our ability to immediately get eyes on a potential threat allows us to provide immediate early warning of a potential attack to personnel on the FOB and that helps us save lives."
According to Olson, "Fully incorporating all the Army, Navy, and Air Force assets into IBDSoS training, also means improving the ability to provide early warning to personnel located on the FOBs and give forces time to take appropriate actions and defeat this type of irregular warfare threat. Eventually, we will digitally integrate IBDSoS and C-RAM system information with joint fires and command and control systems that will greatly improve shared situational awareness among coalition forces and make it easier to defeat FOB threats."
"Our ability to integrate joint assets with our own fires capabilities cuts down on the time to gain a positive identification on a threat and that helps us to respond quickly and appropriately," said Edwards. "IBDSoS provides us with a mission-essential capability that will give our unit an unprecedented level of force protection once we deploy in theater."
"IBDSoS training is another opportunity for BCTs to receive realistic and rigorous training that prepares them for their next mission," said Rosiere. "The goal of IBDSoS training here is to provide units with the exact tools and capabilities that they will have once deployed. When the maneuver commander knows that he can reach out and fully leverage this joint system, it will increase their force protection and help them save lives. The more units can learn about this system before coming here to train, the better they will be able to leverage its capabilities once deployed in combat."
This article was originally published by JFIIT Public Affairs Office, August 2008.
Army, Navy, Other Joint and Coalition Warfighters Assess Advanced
Marie La Touche and Susan Hulker,
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C.-Army, Navy, and other U.S. servicemembers along with many of our coalition partners recently helped assess advanced combat identification (CID) technologies that could reduce the potential of fratricide during a two-week long exercise that was conducted at Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.
The exercise, known as Bold Quest (BQ) 09, was a U.S. Joint Forces Command's (USJFCOM's) coalition combat identification (CCID) advanced concept technology demonstration (ACTD), was the sixth in a series of exercises aimed at improving the warfighter's ability to distinguish friendly from enemy forces on the battlefield.
Participants from the Army included soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, from Fort Polk, La., as well as aviation assets from the Navy's Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 and Scientific Development Squadron 1 both from Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.
"The principle focus of BQ 09 is fixed-wing, air-to-ground CID," said John Miller, USJFCOM Joint Capability Integration and Fires Division's BQ 09 operational manager. "Simply put, we're assessing the technical and procedural means for an aircrew to identify friendly ground elements by interrogating them or an intended target area. It's a monumental task of assessing CID technologies that could improve our combat effectiveness and reduce fratricide across the services and with our coalition partners alike."
USJFCOM's Joint Fires Integration and Interoperability Team (JFIIT) is part of the team that includes representation from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and a 10-nation coalition. The countries that participated in this event included: Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
"This is a win-win for the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and our allies," said Air Force Maj. Paul Brenner, JFIIT operational lead at BQ. "Anytime you can bring together a comprehensive group of U.S. and coalition military experts to participate in a well synchronized and orchestrated tactical exercise, progress will be made."
Military members participating in the demonstration appreciated the opportunity to provide feedback on technologies that could play a vital role in future conflicts.
"As someone who has recently served in Iraq, it's refreshing to see the military take such a proactive stance in trying to solve the complex problem of fratricide especially in regards to Army and Navy integration on the battlefield," said Army 1SG Joseph Gaskin, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (BCT), 10th Mountain Division from Fort Polk, La. "Another advantage of this exercise was the opportunity to work with many of our coalition partners just like we do when we're deployed. It's a vital experience especially for our younger leaders and Soldiers."
Coalition partners also see BQ 09 as an important event to assess new CID technologies.
"Bold Quest provided the best opportunity available to test our system in a realistic environment," said German Air Force Lt. Col. Georg Leben, German Air Force Command lead at BQ. "We enjoyed working in a live multicultural and multiservice environment that can serve as a catalyst in developing what is needed to achieve a common goal, preventing fratricide."
USJFCOM's CCID ACTD exercises have always been focused on potential joint and coalition CID solutions.
"As in the case today, future conflicts will be fought alongside our coalition partners," Miller continued. "Bold Quest provides another superb opportunity for warfighters to come together and work to improve our CID capabilities as a joint and coalition team."
Two of the air-to-ground CID technologies being assessed here are the tactical fixed-wing aircraft pod-mounted Battlefield Target Identification Device (BTID) and the Radio Based Combat Identification (RBCI) system.
BTID interrogates a potential target with its onboard weapons targeting system and allows the operator to make near-instantaneous engagement decisions using real-time identification data. BTID is designed to distinguish whether a vehicle is friend or unknown using advanced millimeter-wave technology.
RBCI is a software modification to existing combat radios to provide an interrogation and reply CID capability. During BQ 09, this proven technology will be assessed in the air-to-ground role.
"BTID and RBCI could enhance a pilot's situational awareness by providing another means to detect the presence of friendly forces in a target area before dropping ordnance on a hostile target," said Perry Davis, JFIIT's lead BTID and RBCI analyst at BQ. "These technologies could prove to be another important capability to help reduce the potential of fratricide for ground forces during the terminal phase of an air-to-ground attack."
Solving fratricide is a challenge that has spanned all conflicts and countless military operations.
"Progressing from the speed of the foot soldier on ancient battlefields to a jet fighter beaming lasers to scan a target area, the warfighter has relied on the best technology available to accomplish their assigned task," Brenner said. "As weaponry has become more accurate and lethal, CID technologies have become increasingly more reliable, but not perfect. BQ 09 is another important milestone in trying to find potential solutions to this complex challenge."
"Fratricide has historically been a problem facing both our forces and those of our coalition partners," said Army SFC Jerell Daniels, platoon sergeant, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 4th BCT, 10th Mountain Division. "This exercise is another important step in trying to solve that CID challenge. It's an absolutely essential mission that we've got to accomplish."
This article was originally published by JFIIT Public Affairs Office, November 2009.
In the Blood
Tom Philpott, Special Correspondent
Reprinted with permission from the March 2007 issue of SEAPOWER,
BAGHDAD-During his first visit to Iraq, in December 2005, Adm. Mike Mullen, chief of naval operations, sat down with several Navy officers who were assigned to a task force here that was working on a host of ways to counter improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the No. 1 killer of U.S. service personnel in Iraq.
The task force had gotten a lot of money thrown at it fast.
"That's always a worry," Mullen said, recalling his experience from the trip. "I'm enough of a money guy to know if you throw a lot of money at something, everybody . . . will show up saying, 'Well I've got something.' And it wasn't organized as well as it should be."
He then met with three Navy officers specially tasked to try to solve the challenge of remotely detonated IEDs. One was a reservist who, in civilian life, played a key role in developing the OnStar protection program for General Motors. Powered by a vehicle's battery, OnStar helps drivers link to emergency service providers using wireless telephone and satellite technologies.
"Well these guys started walking through what we're doing and that's when the light bulb went on," Mullen recalled.
It was time for the Navy, with its expertise in electronic warfare, to begin playing a larger role in the IED challenge.
"We grow up in the Navy learning about a very challenging electronic environment that is out here. You have nothing but radios, communication gear, electronic gear. And there [is] an expertise," Mullen said. "For everybody who goes to sea in the Navy, it gets into your blood pretty fast because it can cost you your life not understanding the electronic environment. You win or lose based on whether you give your signature up."
While Navy officers are immersed in that environment, said Mullen, "the Army and Air Force basically gave this capability up in 1990, on the downside of the fall of the Soviet Union."
Mullen sent an e-mail to Army GEN George Casey, then-commander of coalition forces in Iraq and said "I've got this ability and, the best I can tell, you've got this gap."
Casey liked the idea. So did Army GEN John Abizaid, then-commander of U.S. Central Command, who formally requested Navy support.
"That was January, and by May we pushed some 300 or so Navy personnel into Iraq. They stood up as Joint CREW (Counter Radiocontrolled IED Electronic Warfare) Composite Squadron-One under the command of Capt. Brian Hinkley. He set up an ombudsman and support network, too," Mullen said.
"There is no ground officer around here who won't tell you that they've saved a lot of lives. [It's been] pretty extraordinary," Mullen said.
He credited the "inherent skills that we have in managing the electronic environment that allows us to not interfere with each other, to understand what the threat is, to be able to counter it."
Mullen conceded that, despite the Navy's contribution since last May, IEDs in Iraq continue to take lives and remain a difficult challenge.
In describing the fluid tactics of bomb-makers among Iraqi insurgents, a British explosives expert told Mullen at the task force meeting, "these guys are changing tactics on the back of a napkin over a cup of coffee."
By contrast, coalition forces were "taking our equipment and mailing it back to Indiana, and two months later it's changed," the expert said.
The lesson, Mullen said, is "we've got to be quicker and more agile."
The Joint CREW Composite Squadron is an example of that kind of adaptability, he suggested.
"There's been a huge force change, which is the kind of change you want," Mullen said. "Has it solved the whole thing? No. But it has given us a tremendous leg up in the electronic world that we just didn't have a year ago."
A Lieutenant's Report From Iraq: 'My Skills Could Have Been Better Used'
Tom Philpott, Special Correspondent
Reprinted with permission from the March 2007 issue of SEAPOWER,
BAGHDAD-Enough Navy personnel are serving on the ground in U.S. Central Command-12,500 at last count-that they've earned a nickname: Sandbox Sailors.
Roughly 4,500 of these sailors are on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, most of them serving in combat support roles.
Two-thirds are individual augmentees (IAs), which means they serve apart from their parent command. The bulk of these IAs are reservists.
The intent is to help relieve the strain of wartime operations on the Army and Marine Corps. The strongest advocate for putting sailors in ground force roles is the chief of naval operations, Adm. Mike Mullen.
"We are in a war out here that isn't an Army war or a Marine Corps war. It's a national war," Mullen said. That's why the Navy has had to deepen its involvement. The fit isn't always a comfortable one.
Last April, Lt. Joseph "Max" Ernest, a Navy Reserve intelligence officer with 11 years of law enforcement experience, was mobilized to Baghdad where the Army assigned him as a logistics officer to Iraq's interior ministry. He had no former experience in logistics and spent his first months learning basic terminology and grasping the fundamentals of logistics.
"My skills could have been better used," said Ernest during an interview in Republican Palace inside Baghdad's Green Zone. But the assignment did boost his confidence.
"If I can do this here, when I get back to my world I can pretty much handle anything," Ernest said.
Sitting beside Ernest was another Navy Reserve intelligence officer, Lt. Jason Fickett. In civilian life, he is an FBI agent.
"My experience has been excellent," said Fickett, three months into his tour.
He, too, works with one of the Iraqi ministries.
"The Army has slotted me into a position where I am able to use my FBI and Navy skill sets," he said.
Before his deployment last November, Fickett received two weeks of combat tactics training in Fort Jackson, S.C.
"It's the Army's show, and we are here to augment them," Fickett said.
"The fear is that because we are not part of the group we're not going to be treated as such. I've heard a lot of horror stories but so far my experience had been pretty good."
One worry among IAs, he said, is that they "might get the job no one wants because you're the odd man out. Perhaps that's what happened to Lt. Ernest, I'm not sure. But it seems like a misuse of resources."
Mullen is sensitive to the complaints. The Navy is pressing Central Command and the Army to do a better job matching Navy skills and seniority with actual needs in theater.
During his visit to Iraq days before Christmas, Mullen said he heard feedback from some sailors that they want more meaningful work if they are going to spend extra time away from their families and their units.
"And some of them are telling me that sitting behind a desk, producing PowerPoint slides, is not what they anticipated," Mullen said. s
Navy's New Crew
A Special Unit of Sailors Hits the Ground to Take on One of the Toughest Tasks in Iraq
Tom Philpott, Special Correspondent
Reprinted with permission from the March 2007 issue of SEAPOWER,
BAGHDAD-Lt. Scott "Sherm" Oliver, an electronic countermeasures officer on Navy EA-6B Prowler jets, was near the end a second carrier deployment supporting troops in Iraq in 2005 when a welcomed set of orders arrived.
For the next 30 months, Oliver learned, he would be a flight instructor in Pensacola, Fla. There, at last, he would get to spend a stretch of home-in-the-evening quality time with his wife, who was expecting their first child.
Eight months into that tour, however, Oliver got an unexpected new set of orders for a third wartime deployment. This time he would be serving on the ground, in Baghdad no less. Understandably, he was upset.
He had been in the Persian Gulf at "the beginning of the war in 2003. I was back in '04-'05. And now back again in '06? That's a lot of time away," said Oliver. "And shore duty is when you're supposed to be able to catch your breath and be home with your family."
This January, after eight months on the ground in Baghdad, Oliver was packing for home, and proud of what he and a special Navy team of electronic warfare experts had accomplished.
"Our efforts have saved lives," Oliver said. "I know that because I've had guys come back and tell me about scenarios where they actually found [roadside bombs before detonation] and they know the CREW is working."
CREW is an acronym for Counter Radio-controlled IED Electronic Warfare systems. Oliver and 60 or so officers from the Prowler community had been pulled from their nonoperational jobs to lead a special 290-member naval ground force formed into Joint CREW Composite Squadron-One (JCCS-1).
The squadron is responsible for installing and maintaining CREW systems on U.S. ground convoys throughout Iraq. The effort is an initiative of Adm. Mike Mullen, the chief of naval operations.
Early in 2006, Mullen had advised Army Gen. George Casey, then-commander of multinational forces in Iraq, that naval countermeasure skills could be effective against attacks on convoys from electronically triggered improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
JCCS-1 set up its headquarters at Camp Victory in Baghdad last May, becoming a subordinate command to the Army's 79th Ordnance Battalion. But most of the squadron's members spread out across Iraq to become embedded with U.S. ground forces at every level.
"The Army didn't have any EW (electronic warfare) experience, so that's how we got here," said the 30-year-old Oliver. "The JCCS-1 guys, the electronic warfare officers, got distributed among all battalions, brigades and divisions here in Iraq."
The concept of embedding Navy personnel in Army units in wartime must be viewed as unique, Oliver said.
"It's every unit down to the battalion level. It's been quite a huge undertaking. It's been good for the Army and I think it's also been good for the Navy officers and enlisted," he said.
Ground battalions have a Navy O-3, like Oliver, assigned to oversee their electronic warfare moves against IEDs.
"Then at brigade level you have an O-4 and at division level you have two O-5s," said Oliver.
Most of JCCS-1 is made up of officers. But the enlisted sailors in the squadron are critical. They are the technicians responsible for installing CREW systems and ensuring proper maintenance.
Insurgents and terrorists began using IEDs in Iraq during the summer of 2003 after it appeared U.S. forces were settling in for a long occupation. As early press reports documented, the bomb-makers shifted over time from detonating their IEDs by command wires or pressure plates, which are more difficult to place, to rigging them with various signal devices, such as cell phones and garage door openers.
During the Cold War, the Army had electronic countermeasure skills but abandoned such training by 1990. By the time the JCCS-1 began operations last spring, some CREW systems already had been installed on Army vehicles. But soldiers reported that the gear was interfering with routine radio communication signals.
"They had had very little understanding of how it worked and little understanding about the electromagnetic spectrum. There's a lot of de-confliction problems," said Oliver. "When we got over here, nobody could talk to each other because pretty much nobody had carefully looked at the spectrum and looked at the threat and figured out we need to jam these specific threats and not jam the communications."
Jamming, of course, is what electronic countermeasure officers do aboard Prowlers and they have to do it without jamming their own gear.
"One huge success we brought to the Army," said Oliver, "is we enabled them to talk without jamming themselves. And we did that because we were able to specify exactly what we're jamming."
Oliver was restricted in what he could reveal about the capabilities of CREW systems whose antenna can be seen atop most U.S. combat vehicles.
"All I can say is, we're focusing electronic warfare on the radio-controlled IED threat," he said.
Installing CREW on every military vehicle in Iraq is the goal. Meanwhile, no U.S. convoy leaves a forward operating based without at least one vehicle having CREW gear aboard. The equipment is defensive, which means it blocks signals that would trigger detonations as convoys pass.
An offensive system would explode IEDs in advance of a convoy's passing.
Can the Navy use EW capabilities in this way?
"I can't get into that," Oliver said.
Navy explosive ordnance disposal teams had been in-country, and protected by CREW systems, too, before the JCCS squadron was stood up.
"They were always on the leading edge of this type of thing. But now we have better systems than we ever used to," Oliver said.
More importantly, the Navy brought in the manpower needed to install CREW so all ground forces have at least some IED protection.
U.S. forces also have drawn lessons from British forces who sharpened their own skills at jamming roadside bombs over many years in response to the threat from the Irish Republican Army.
Members of the JCCS could see evidence of their success reflected in a change of technique by bomb makers, who were returning to some old ways.
"We have seen a rise in more simplified ways of attacking us and that would be the command wire and the pressure-plate type of devices," Oliver said. That shift, he said, "has a direct relationship to our success in what we've done."
As the first JCCS squadron was being relieved, the Navy was scrambling to find sufficient numbers of EW officers it could send. Oliver said some of his squadron colleagues were being extended in Iraq to ensure that the 21,500 troops being surged into Baghdad, under President Bush's new Iraq strategy, received the CREW protection on vehicles that they would need.
The Army, meanwhile, is restoring its EW skills with a new command going up in Fort Huachuca, Ariz. Navy EW personnel expect to be involved in the training.
When ordered to Iraq to become a "sandbox sailor," Oliver said he had no idea what to expect. Looking back, "it's definitely been a great experience. I've learned a ton, working with the Army and Air Force and a Navy [explosive ordnance disposal] unit."
A typical work week, he said, was seven 12-hour days.
"But it is important work and I don't think I've heard anyone complain once they've gotten over here and involved," he said. "Everybody here realizes we are saving lives with what we are doing."
IEDs continue to kill Americans. In December, 74 U.S. service members lost their lives to IEDs, the highest monthly toll since the war began. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Peter Pace told the Senate Armed Services Committee in February that insurgents have doubled the number of IEDs planted over the past year and are using more deadly "explosively formed projectiles" provided by Iran. The result is a "sustained level" of casualties despite more effective countermeasures, including jamming efforts.
Neutralizing electronic triggers, admittedly, is just one part of the IED challenge. The Department of Defense intends to spend $10.4 billion on the IED threat in fiscal 2008 alone. U.S. Central Command has a task force in theater looking for answers. But through the JCCS, the Navy has contributed.