References: NATO (1), National Guard (2), Rumor Mill News (3), Army Times (4), dvids (5)
Some interesting comments on NATO Bold Quest 2011 Exercise were published recently on NATO ACT news archive and other news sources. The exercise was hosted at Currently, Atterbury-Muscatatuck Complex, in Central Indiana, between Sept. 8th and Sept. 23rd. Here, 12 NATO member nations were involved in a joint staff combat assessment exercise designed to test the interoperability of target identification systems to reduce friendly fire incidents.
The exercise was aimed to test technologies driven by the need to provide tools to make warfighters more effective in engaging targets while minimizing the risk of fratricide by both ground and air forces. Participant nations include Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Poland, the United Kingdom, the United States and NATO.
On the airfield at Camp Atterbury sat three giant cargo planes. Not American C-130s, but one plane from Italy and two from Germany. Inside the planes, NATO combat identification training was performed. Pilots tested those computer systems designed to identify friendly forces on the ground. They wanted to ensure that a German jet fighter can digitally identify coalition forces from all NATO countries.
The examined target identification systems included devices that soldiers wear in combat and devices mounted on their weapons. If a weapon is aimed at a target with the identification device, an indicator alerts the soldier taking aim that the target is "friendly" so the soldier can stop. Military NATO aircrafts are to be equipped with the same devices so as not to accidentally drop weapons on the wrong targets.
Other units already were engaged in interoperability training. Four Danish soldiers, four from Finland and two from Belgium called in airstrikes to an American pilot after an improvised explosive device attack.
"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," said John Miller, Bold Quest operational manager. "This year we have expanded the work in the human dimension of coalition combat identification".
"Our goal is to destroy the enemy and avoid fratricide,” said John Miller, “In coalition fighting, there can be a lot of confusion. The fog of war gets foggier.”
"I am grateful for the experience," said French Air Force Sgt. Jerome Fromentin. "Work in this kind of exercise makes our system more efficient. It's good to test our system with NATO -- it increases our compatibility," Fromentin said.
"Sharing of all information with other nations is the goal, to communicate," said French Air Force Maj. Laurent Pourtalet. "It's important to see how our system, Link 16, works with the Mirage 2000 (fighter aircraft), and can adapt to the German system. Communication is everything."