In commercial life, when computer systems or communications infrastructures fail to talk to each other, business could be lost, but in a battle situation, if systems don’t interoperate, lives could be lost. In order to sort out interoperability issues and to put new technologies to the test in simulated war situations, the forces of the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and NATO are mounting JWID ’97, or Joint Warrior Interoperability Demonstrations. JWID was first established in the US in 1989, following a potentially disastrous communications breakdown during the US invasion of Grenada, when an off-shore support ship apparently overloaded the satellite communications, so that the troops on the ground were unable to communicate via satellite. The situation was resolved, the story goes, only when an officer used his AT&T Corp phone card to call the Pentagon. The UK joined JWID in 1995.
This year’s event will take place during July, with demonstration sites in the US, the Netherlands, the UK, Spain and France. A battle scenario is created, and rather than limiting itself to military systems, industry is invited to offer up the latest technology that may be of use in a joint forces invasion situation. This year’s participants include Oracle Corp, Siemens AG’s Siemens Plessey Systems Ltd, Cogent Technologies Inc, Cisco Systems Inc, GEC Marconi, Sema Group Plc, Sun Microsystems Inc and Electronic Data Systems Inc. JWID’s UK coordinator Major Jonathan Turner said the objectives of the project are to demonstrate the interoperability of UK and US message systems, to find applications to improve operations efficiency and reduce planning times while maximizing available bandwidth, to work on the control and management of networks, to improve commandos’ awareness of available technology, and to inform industry of what technology is and may be required in the next five to ten years. This year’s scenario involves a supposed small island, rich in oil, where the Northern part of the island Korona, invades the Southern part Kartuna. The coalition forces will be sent in to force the Northerners back from whence they came. Each country involved sets up its own communications infrastructure. The UK will have ISDN links between four locations, with a megabit pipe as part of a wide area network between Canada the US and the UK, as well as satellite communications. Major Turner said for last year’s JWID, two competitive companies, Siemens Plessey and Cogent worked together to solve a real life problem, getting the UK army’s tactical trunk communications system to talk to that of the Royal Air Force. Although the deadline for having technology included in JWID ’97 has officially passed, Major Turner says any company with a suitable new technology will still be considered, and he says that he is particularly interested in software applications that may be used in strategic planning.
Major Turner can be contacted at S02comm@cisenggp.mod.uk. The JWID Web site can be found at https://220.127.116.11/