By MyBaseGuide Staff Member
Time and space to maneuver saves lives on the modern battlefield. More information, with more time to decide, allows commanders to make quick decisions that protect warfighters and allow them to accomplish their mission. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency's Chemical and Biological Technologies Department recently held an Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD) to test technologies that could arm warfighters with the time and information required to safely and effectively accomplish their mission, despite their operating environment.

The Integrated Early Warning (IEW) ATD addressed chem/bio challenges through a series of demonstrations and test events called Perceptive Dragon. The goal of the latest event, Perceptive Dragon 2 (PD2), was executing an "on-the-move," multi-service field demonstration of the IEW system of systems' prototype solution.

The demonstrations assessed the utility and feasibility of current and future chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) tactical voice and data communications to enable common battlefield awareness and understanding.

Better situational awareness of the CBRN threat environment helps commanders make and execute well-informed decisions on the battlefield. Building on the success of the previous Perceptive Dragon demonstration, PD2 was the culminating integration event, and was primarily technology focused for tactical combat environments. The IEW ATD is part of a larger chem/bio defense program campaign to develop advanced capabilities.

The PD2 demonstration involved two CBRN training scenarios based on a recent Marine Expeditionary Force exercise and used with Army and Marine forces operating together.

In the first scenario, warfighters moved to contact and defeat an enemy, but a chemical threat is detected, precipitating the decision to shift the main maneuver effort to a supporting effort. The second focused on an air assault to defeat enemy forces at an objective with a shift to an alternate landing zone, along with use of personnel protective equipment, following detection of radiological or chemical threats.

A simulated maneuver environment with CBRN threats was created to complete the demonstration. Real-world mobile and communication network assets were employed in the simulated scenarios to provide a realistic operational context for data/information flow into the Marine and Army situational awareness architectures. In addition, both actual and simulated stand-off CBRN detection systems were employed as a trigger to initiate CBRN operations.

The PD2 demonstration gathered important operator and subject matter expert feedback on the operational utility of the proposed technological solutions. Warfighter participation was critical to the success of PD2. With minimal training time, the operators quickly incorporated the myriad of decision-based toolsets and CBRN sensing technologies into their mission planning and execution. During mission debriefs, Marine and Army participants provided invaluable feedback to the demonstration team.

In addition to CBRN scenario runs, a physiological status monitoring workshop was conducted at the end of the final demonstration day. This workshop included a demonstration and discussion with the Marine and Army participants in order to gauge their impression of wearable technologies, understand what form factors would be acceptable in a deployed environment and outline where the data should flow at the tactical level.

A display application, termed "Leaderboard" developed by the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, was used to categorize and display heat stress information for each warfighter. Such information is intended to give commanders better real-time indication of force conditions and improved overall situational awareness. This demonstration provided context for a follow-on discussion as to how wearable technologies might be used for personal, host-based chem/bio monitoring in the future. The feedback from the discussion was favorable with operators agreeing on the potential value of wearing technologies during real-world operations and training.

Areas for advancement include decision management algorithms needed for both mission planning and execution, friendly force locations should be incorporated to identify units at risk of contamination, and improvements in hazard area mapping with more robust use plans and procedures are needed in conjunction with additional operational testing.

PD2 successfully showcased a variety of new sensor data collection, processing, analysis and movement concepts in the context of a realistic combat scenario. Timely sensor data and CBRN event summaries were successfully and efficiently moved among Marine and Army Command and Control systems for commander situational awareness.

Plans are already underway for Perceptive Dragon 3, which is expected to take place in the summer of 2019 with a focus on driving CBRN-related decisions in the tactical planning process, cooperative unmanned systems and dismounted reconnaissance.

The end result of the Perceptive Dragon series of demonstrations is to give field commanders better information faster, allowing them to make sound decisions on protecting the warfighter and achieving mission success.

DTRA CB POC: Ryan Madden; ryan.t.madden.civ@mail.mil




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