News: Technologies, partnerships strengthened during Bold Quest 2011
Story by Michael Maddox
EDINBURGH, Ind. — Camp Atterbury-Muscatatuck Training Complex are no stranger to hosting soldiers with a multitude of unit patches from a wide variety of locations, but recently the installation has also been hosting military members from foreign services across the globe.
Currently, Atterbury-Muscatatuck Complex is hosting Bold Quest 2011, a joint staff lead military coalition combat assessment exercise designed to test the interoperability of target identification systems of 12 NATO member nations to reduce friendly fire incidents. The exercise, which involves more than 700 foreign and U.S. military members, began Sept. 8 and will wrap up Sept. 23.
During Bold Quest military members from nations including Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Poland, the United Kingdom, the United States and NATO, have been working together to test equipment to ensure they are all speaking the same “language” during real-world coalition missions.
Bold Quest is an exercise that has been progressively grown in mission aspects and participants all working together toward one goal – keeping soldiers safe, said John Miller, Bold Quest operational manager.
“Bold Quest is a recurring series of operational demonstrations in which we bring coalition war fighters, technicians and analysts together in problem solving partnerships that ultimately result in a major operational demonstration in the field. It’s testing under operational conditions to the maximum extent that we can replicate,” he explained. “This year we have expanded the work in the human dimension of coalition combat identification.”
“For a number of years and the first few series of Bold Quest, our focus was on technology – technical solutions,” said Miller. “This time around we are doing a lot of that as well, but we have a significant human dimension element in which we are investigating the stress of human decision making at the dismounted war fighter level as well as training solutions to deal with those kinds of stress factors.”
Technology training and testing is one major part of Bold Quest 2011, according to Maj. Tommy Myrvoll, with the Norwegian Battle Lab, and Bold Quest project officer.
“The main technologies [involved in the exercise] are the dismounted soldier technologies,” said Myrvoll. “It’s situational awareness technology for the soldier so they can look at the small navigational panel and see where all of the other people in their platoon are, and also where the other platoons are. They can also see vehicles and aircraft in the area.”
Myrvoll added, he has seen great progress in the technologies used to help identify friendly forces.
“I think the development of the technologies has been progressing very well. We first participated in 2009, and we saw that our systems had some challenges, especially talking to other systems,” said Myrvoll. “Now we have done some work on our systems and they are working very well all of the way from the dismounted Soldier to the vehicles and the Tactical Operations Center as well.”
Maj. Markus “Starbuck” Stury, a pilot for the German military from the 33rd Fighter Bomber Wing, said Bold Quest has also allowed the Germans to fine tune coalition communication skills to prevent any friendly fire incidents.
“We fly our aircraft with the [identification] system, and we circle around in an orbit, then we run our system. As the computers are connected to the ground station and they send us information back, we can then make sure all of our data is correct before we deploy our ordnance,” Stury said. “With a bombing run, you don’t want to have errors, especially with friendlies close by.”
Being able to work on systems and communications in a coalition training environment is beneficial for everyone to make sure everything will run smoothly during real-world missions, said Maj. Antoni Furman, Australian Capability Development Group, fire support staff officer.
“It’s good to be part of a coalition team where we are all working for the same outcomes, everyone is getting the same feedback and developing the system as a coalition team,” said Furman. “We look forward to coming to these events to participate and to continuing to learn in a coalition setting.”
Miller said judging from preliminary results, the exercise is leading to success for everyone.
“The exercise has been going great. The national representatives from the 12 other nations that are here with the U.S. are reporting that they are meeting all of their data collection objectives and in a number of cases, exceeding them,” explained Miller.
The training area, support and accommodations at Camp Atterbury-Muscatatuck have been the perfect venue for the Bold Quest team to accomplish their missions, said Miller.
“The venue meets all of our needs. It’s rare to find a place that does that,” said Miller. “It’s not just the air and ground space, but it’s the event control facilities that are available to us here at Atterbury as well as the proximity of the airfield.
“In past events, sometimes some of the things that are co-located here at Atterbury have been separated by 40 or 100 miles which makes it more difficult to control an event on a day-to-day basis,” he said. “To have that all here at Atterbury, with all of the range facilities that we have here and at Muscatatuck, is a rare find for us.”
Hosting events such as Bold Quest just reinforces the capabilities of Atterbury-Muscatatuck Complex, said Maj. Gen. Cliff Tooley, assistant Adjutant General for the state of Indiana.
“Bold Quest is sort of a prototype of what we are designed to support, and that is the blending and training of forces with testing and technology with the intent of taking technology and making it more rapidly deployable to the field by interfacing it with the Soldiers as early as possible,” said Tooley.
Tooley added, that adding in the coalition element just makes Soldiers that much more prepared for future missions.
“Very seldom will we deploy upon our own, we’ll always engage with our partners in coalition efforts. When we respond to the emergencies of the world, we’ll do it with our partner nations,” he said. “All of those emergencies require that you come together as team quickly and you can only do that if you practice and rehearse before the event.”
Miller said this is the first time that the National Guard has provided the majority of the U.S. support to the event, and that the Guard members have exceeded all expectations.
“We do have some active Army elements here, but the bulk of both the ground and the air elements are being provided by the Guard. It’s been going great,” Miller said. “Everything that we’ve asked the Guard units to do on the ground and in the air, and in many cases grabs some technology that they were not familiar with and run with them, they’ve just done it with a great attitude and professionalism. I would repeat this and work them in this type of venue anytime.”
That professionalism has its rewards, said Tooley.
“It’s one of the great things about having the training and testing sites of choice in your backyard, that the ‘home’ boys get a shot at it first,” Tooley said. “They are getting some unique, very high-end training and exposure to technology that they probably would not have that opportunity on a normal day. I’m very proud of our guys.”