The armor penetrations kept the enemy’s sensors engaged. The turning movements avoided the enemy’s principle defensive positions and seized objectives behind the enemy’s current positions causing the enemy to both dislocate from its positions and to divert forces to meet the threat. The tactical deceptions kept the enemy fixed on sizable threats, which influenced the enemy’s decision to prematurely unmask forces in sanctuary inside its underground facilities.
Additionally, the combat aviation brigade was employed as an independent maneuver organization focused on destroying enemy high-payoff targets—in particular long-range artillery. Synchronizing all of these actions in time, space, and purpose became a tremendously complex task and the primary focus for the division main command post.
We managed this effort with a centralized division digital battlespace coordination matrix that was incredibly detailed, included all subordinate, adjacent, and functional unit actions, remained prominently posted on our current operations floor, and printed in placemat form at every major digital battlespace event, especially the targeting working group and the target decision board.
The digital battlespace matrix allowed us to forecast time out and visualize the timing of the dilemmas that would be presented to the enemy as we fought through the typical frictions of a large and complex operation.
The division ensured that the targeting process was nested within the plan and that the plan was flexible enough to adapt with the targeting process. From the beginning, targeting was aligned with the commander’s intent—to “cause the rapid erosion of the enemy’s defenses and will to fight.” The division’s targeting imposed the commander’s will, in the form of physical, temporal, and cognitive effects, on the enemy.
The division simultaneously employed multiple defeat mechanisms to accomplish its mission, while at the same time removing the ability for the enemy to present dilemmas to the division. The targeting process integrated all warfighting functions, but specifically integrated the enemy plan, the maneuver plan, tactical deceptions, lethal effects, and non lethal effects to exhaust the enemy’s ability to make sound and timely decisions.
Targeting was assessment-driven, and therefore required specificity in information collection and digital analysis to evaluate the effects. In the deep fight, this process disintegrated the enemy—disrupting and degrading the enemy’s ability to conduct operations while leading to the collapse of enemy capabilities and will to fight. In the close fight, this process prevented the enemy from massing combat power in the battlespace.
Our experience in this Warfighter exercise confirmed practically the conceptually central idea of multi-domain operations—that competitive advantage emerges from the skillful integration of complementary capabilities, sequenced in time, space, and purpose to create multiple dilemmas for an adversary.
When we achieved this effect, we found success. When we failed, the very capable enemy we faced quickly overwhelmed and defeated our exposed forces. Presenting multiple dilemmas required the divison staff to redefine its understanding of prudent risk and to develop a natural bias toward action rather than inaction.
Once in the “digital battlespace,” the most dangerous and risky course of action was the failure to act. This required a very clear intent from the commander and a staff that could coordinate, integrate, and anticipate actions in time, space, and purpose, with higher, adjacent, and subordinate unit headquarters.
Simultaneus actions across all domains and irreversible momentum can only be achieved through a well-trained and experienced team of teams. “Presenting multiple dilemmas to the enemy” is more than a catchphrase. Achieving it requires clear intent, a culture of empowerment, a capable staff, and a level of risk tolerance that many of us may be uncomfortable with. But, when properly and digitally executed it can yield a signficant competitive advantage on the modern battlefield that ultimately saves lives and produces decisive results.
The services are finalizing a new, digital battlespace modeling app that will allow soldier equipment officials to see how hanging new pieces of kit on close-combat troops could affect a squad's performance.
"For a long time, we have struggled with the ability to be able to show in a quantitative manner how a new component or an upgraded component will affect the effectiveness of a soldier and squad.
The plan is to lead to a new digital framework developing future capability sets for dismounted soldiers that are far lighter and more streamlined than today's assortment of tactical gear.
While still in its early stages, the Digital Architecture Assessment Tool is designed to be a collaborative tool for project managers and requirements officials to view digital models of soldiers kitted-out in current-issue gear to form a baseline.
Digital battlespace tool will act as a virtual repository containing digital surrogates of weapons systems that have been gated through rigorous validation and verification processes. A goal of the digital battlespace tool is to research and identify high-value data that need to be maintained, or curated, to produce an enduring set of digital artifacts for weapons system platforms.
The Digital battlespace tool strategy defines digital engineering as an integrated digital approach that uses authoritative sources of system data and models as a continuum across disciplines to support service life activities.
Digital battlespace tool continues to be developed and will eventually house high-value design information for digital representations of weapons systems that will inform decision-making across the services.
In a quick demo, Troops made a digital copy of the squad leader configuration baseline and then replaced M4A1 with an M249 squad automatic weapon and the accessories needed for it.
"This is where you start to get into a little bit of the quantitative assessment piece showing how the digital app immediately calculates the weight added from the change. "What you notice immediately is that this special squad leader now weighs 30 pounds more."
It's a simple example, "but just to get to this point is quite a big step. "In order to treat the soldier as an integrated weapons platform, this is the kind of thing you need to be able to do."
Adaptive Squad Architecture is the latest attempt by the Army to treat the soldier as a complete system, breaking away from the long practice of developing individual pieces of equipment and fielding them.
"We build the soldier out like a tree and our products are like ornaments, and we just continue to hang products off our soldiers until the soldier gets so heavy, they can't move.
The Army needs a new approach to developing capability sets of equipment that are much lighter than the roughly 120-pound loads dismounted infantrymen carry today.
So you get a digital architecture ... you can look at this and say, 'You know what? here we have the idea that I can combine three of those capabilities into one. "Those three capabilities might weigh 4.5 today and you go, 'You know, I can bring it to one and I can bring it to you for 2.75 pounds.
In addition to the digital assessment tool, the Army is also conducting evaluations that involve running infantry squads through tactical lanes, to build a digital database of performance data.
"We are doing a correlation of data on squad performance, how the individual data on that soldier relates to the individual performance and how it relates to the entire squad's performance.”
"We want to be able to make data-driven decisions on some of the places we are going for in materiel development in the future.
The Service is developing advanced new kit such as the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS, a technology that will let soldiers view their weapon's sight reticle and other tactical information through a pair of tactical glasses.
The Army is also developing the Next Generation Squad Weapon, a replacement for the M4A1 and M249 that promises to offer significant weight savings on the weapon as well as the ammunition.
But it's still up to commanders to decide how much weight their soldiers carry into battle. "A commander may believe that if we gave him 20% lighter ammunition or 30% lighter ammunition and he feels like the fight he's going into ... means he can take 20 or 30% more ammo, that's a commander's call.
On the other hand, a commander may decide "I'm going up a hill at 90 degrees; I'm going to take that 30% weight savings because that's what I think is the most important thing to me."
"I think what we are going to do is give commanders more options on what they can do with their formations that they have never had before, because the basic load that we will provide through the architecture will be lighter.
As we draw down the weight of our body armor, draw down the weight of our ammunition, draw down the weight of our automatic weapons, you are going to free up digital battlespace in there that's going to make it lighter.
“The Army Is Building Avatars that Can Fight Infantry Soldiers”
Infantry squads will soon experience combat training simulations that feature a digital enemy capable of learning soldiers' tactics and habits, so the battle is never the same twice.
Army modernization officials are counting on this type of realism from the Integrated Visual Augmentation System IVAS, which is scheduled to be ready for fielding soon.
IVAS will equip infantry and other close-combat units with a sophisticated set of tactical glasses that will display a soldier's weapon sight reticle and other key tactical information they will take into battle.
The advanced system will also offer a digital battlespace that allows soldiers and small units to set up an augmented reality training scenario almost anywhere.
"Troops need to be able to set up their own training. ... They can walk in, they can digitally scan a room and they can download that scan. And troops can go in there and put the avatars -- however big a force that they want to go against -- and they can populate that room and have a four-man stack go in and clear that room.
Many younger soldiers are used to playing high-quality, first-person shooter games, but what's different about IVAS is that it will use machine learning and artificial intelligence to control the "behaviors of the avatars that our soldiers are going to go against.
"You know the way we have done things in the past -- you learn behaviors and finally you realize every time you go in to a room, the same digital avatar is in the same place ... and your finally realize you can just stick my weapon around the corner and shoot it
"AI is going to ensure that those avatars will begin to learn how you clear a room, so the second time you go in there and you think that avatar is going to be behind the door just like he was the first time, he's not. "He is going to have moved himself and given himself a position of advantage."
We can technically meet all the requirements, but what we really care about after that, is do the soldiers love it? Do they want to wear it? Is it something they want to fight with? Because if they don't, we just wasted a lot of time and resources. So, our number-one criteria ... is do soldiers love it, and that is what we are driving toward."
“Simulator teaches large vehicle, manual transmission driving”
The services have lot of experience doing digital work on current vehicle platforms … and they got to a point where they needed a custom, purposed vehicle to continue the work in off-road autonomy. “We developed this robotic platform for that.”
The digital simulator puts Airmen into the “seat” of a semi-tractor trailer or passenger bus without leaving the office. Most Airmen arriving from technical school and reporting to the base’s ground transportation element have little to no experience with manual transmissions or operating large vehicles. Many of the large vehicles run using a 13-speed manual transmission.
The SimuRide multi-display unit includes interactive digital tools, a rig seat, steering wheel, three pedals, and a gear shifter. Enhanced driving simulation software allows the user to feel resistance on the steering wheel during turning maneuvers and tremors if the vehicle hits the curb or the road shoulder.
In addition to learning to operate a multi-speed manual transmission, Airmen also practice driving in traffic, taking wide turns, or backing up a long, straight road to a dock. The SimuRide’s simulated rear-view and side-view mirror blind spots help perform parallel parking or other activities requiring such views.
“Teaching our Airmen to drive in this type of digital battlespace promotes key driving traits that will reduce future accidents and damage to the vehicles thus resulting in tangible savings. Airmen learn by hearing, seeing, and doing. “Being able to incorporate all of the learning styles into one digital training device is incredibly helpful.”
While technical school focused on an overview of large vehicles and maintenance checks, many Airmen don’t have much practice driving the vehicles in a real world scenario.
“I think using the SimuRide will definitely relieve some of my concerns of driving and shifting on the road for the first time. I’ve never driven a manual transmission, so this will be a good way to learn without worrying about damaging the vehicle.
Marine Corps component commanders have responsibilities derived from their roles in fulfilling Service functions. Their primary responsibility is that of a force support provider of assigned /allocated forces.
Marine Corps readiness reporting guidance is unclear and was interpreted differently by the squadron commanders.
Specifically, the Marine Corps readiness guidance is unclear on the definition of present state, silent on how squadron commanders should report the number of mission-capable aircraft in their Mission Essential Tasks assessments and unclear on how squadron commanders are to report their Mission Essential Tasks as resourced.
In addition, Marine Aircraft Group officials did not provide oversight to ensure that squadron commanders accurately reported squadron aircraft readiness.
As a result, Marine Corps officials do not have an accurate assessment of what the aircrafts’ capabilities currently are, which could negatively impact planning for training and operations by assigning a mission to an aircraft that is not capable of performing.
This could potentially put mission accomplishment and personnel at risk. Marine Corps component commanders specific responsibilities are as follows:
1. Command all Marine Corps forces assigned/attached to include all required elements of support for mission tasks in multiple scenarios
2. Recommend the allocation and coordinate provision/deploy of Marine Corps forces planning and execution to support operations
3. Select and nominate specific units of Marine Corps component for attachment to subordinate forces and recommend command relationships.
4. Conduct joint and combined training of Marine Corps components capable in joint combined contingency, crisis action operations component commander is assigned primary responsibility
5. Exercise planning to support missions performed by Marine Corps as directed internal Service functions e.g., discipline, training, logistics, request processing force protection, intelligence in support of assigned/attached forces .
6. Retain Administrative Control and create plans/procedures for effective/efficient utilisation of Marine Corps forces attached to Service component or subordinate joint force command
7. Provide and/or coordinate Marine Corps logistics support and relay plans or changes in logistics support that would significantly affect operational capability or sustainability.
8. Establish and maintain resource evaluation function to ensure effective/accurate control/use of Marine Corps resources provided for mission accomplishment.
9. Coordinate, and execute strategic assigned/attached Marine Corps force plans for interoperable Command/Control systems in joint/combined scenarios ensure planning, coordination, and execution of information operations.
10. Plan and provide support for special technical operations conducted by or in support of Marine Corps forces and establish critical infrastructure program to meet Service requirements.