CWID tests latest in communications for warfighters

Colo.: Airmen and Soldiers brought their experience from Afghanistan and Iraq to test the latest communications systems in the Colorado Springs portion of the joint Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration on June 16.The demonstration is designed to improve and enhance command and control; communications systems; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. The portion of the demonstration held near the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs showcased the coordination of civil and military authorities during a simulated complex attack on local communications.
"We were tasked to support the exercise,but we really view it more of a privilege because we get to come downhere and see the latest and greatest technology and how it directlyhelps the warfighter," said Maj. Bill Worrell, the commander of JointForces Headquarters-Colorado at Buckley Air ForceBase. "From a communications standpoint to an operations standpoint, weget to see not only the technology, but also the operations sideof the house."
North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Commandofficials at Peterson AFB hosted the Homeland Defense/Homeland Securityportion of CWID inColorado Springs for the seventh consecutive year. The demonstration consists of five main U.S. network locations and more than 20 coalition partners worldwide.
CWID gives warfighters with experience in both wars the opportunityto test the latest technology and give their opinions on how it willwork in a combat environment, said Col. Teddy Byrd, the commanderof the 207th Army Liaison Team at Fort Bragg, N.C.

"You need a Soldier's or first responder's perspective on how thingswill work in a real-world type of environment," Colonel Byrd said. "ThePentagon or Department of Defense is going to eventually spend somemoney on this kind of stuff, so they need to have it assessed properlyby the people who are going to use it.
"This has been a really good opportunity for my Army Reservesoldiers to see some new things, get new experiences and get theirhands on new technology," he said.
About a dozen emerging technological systems were tested in the exercise, with mixed results, Colonel Byrd said.
"We had some good success with some systems on the first day andothers that seemed to have some bugs," he said. "We're trying toprovide some feedback for the contractors to allow them to fix it, andsometimes they're fixing it on site."
Five Air National Guard members from Joint Forces Headquarters Colorado supported the exercise, along with Major Worrell.
Last year, Major Worrell and his guardsmen observed the EventManagement Framework early in its development at the 2009 CWID, and ithas already advanced through the procurement phase and is being used byofficials in the NORTHCOM command center.
One example of the systems tested this year is the Aerostat for Communications and Surveillance in Disaster and Wartime balloon.
The system has a built-in remote control camera that allows theexchange of information, dissemination of related data, and real-timedirection to deployed first responders.
It offers a variety of communications and surveillance payloads tosupport the mission, said Master Sgt. Ronnie Williams, a first sergeantwith the 207th ArmyLiaison Team at Fort Bragg.
"Basically, Aerostat is a weather balloon, but with camera and videothat can be used for surveillance with infrared technology," SergeantWilliams said. "You can actually key in on suspects and track them."
Sixteen Airmen are participating in CWID at Hanscom AFB, Mass., asrole players in a scenario involving a terrorist attack. Aerostat willprovide video surveillance to track terrorists and damage to the area,and facilitate radio communications.
Other systems that were evaluated during the Colorado exercise included the TerreStar satellite and cellular smartphone, Portable Systems Interconnect Communications and Collaborative Alert and Respond System.
CWID is a Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed annual event that engages cutting-edge information technologyand focus on operational shortfalls identified by combatant commandersand government agencies. Technologies are approved for participationbecause they address a new information-sharing capability or mightimprove an existing capability. Assessment results are captured inCWID's annual final report which informs defense, federal, state andlocal acquisition decision-makers. The final report is scheduled to bepublished by October or November.

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