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Big exercise at JBLM and Yak

U.S. military, partner nations assess future warfighting capabilities at JWA 19

Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Kenneth Burkhart

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The U.S. Army Joint Modernization Command is supporting Joint Warfighting Assessment 19, a joint multinational military exercise, which is being conducted at Yakima Training Center and Joint Base Lewis-McChord April 8-May 11.

JWA 19 is the U.S. Army's largest annual joint-multinational live exercise in which the U.S. military and partner nations assess 28 future warfighting concepts, capabilities and formations in a large-scale and realistic battlefield exercise.

"JWA 19 is the Army future and modernization training ground," said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Johnny K. Davis, the commanding general for the Joint Modernization Command. "When we peer into future operational environments and consider our capabilities within that environment, we need an avenue to assess and evaluate our capabilities. That's where JWA 19 comes in."

Large-scale battlefield exercises at JWA 19 are tracked and heavily influenced by computer simulators.

"Strategies, tactics and operations employed in the field during JWA 19 are replicated in the simulators," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. James Teters, Chief of the Multi-Domain Simulations Center, JMC. "We are able to take a snapshot of our fighting strength before and after battlefield movements and simulations. This will help our forces better understand and consider potential outcomes on the battlefield."

Teters, who is responsible for oversight of JWA 19 computer simulations that cover all five warfighting domains, said the purpose of the simulations is to assess results of real-world actions taken on the battlefield.

In addition to the Joint Modernization Command, personnel from the U.S. Army's Training and Doctrine Command play a vital role at JWA 19 to help assess force capabilities.

"We are the user representative for equipment and new concepts (that are employed in JWA 19)," said U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Richard W. Godfrey, the senior technical advisor for Training and Doctrine's capabilities manager of electronic warfare. "We take user (soldier) feedback and develop requirements that state what about the equipment and concepts should remain the same and what should be improved and then send that to military leaders who can initiate that improvement."

The "in-the-dirt" execution and evaluation of these simulations takes place in many more environments than just on the ground.

U.S. Army Futures Command, who leads U.S. Army efforts in modernization, has prioritized a concept known as Multi-Domain Operations within JWA 19 training initiatives, said Davis.

Five warfighting environments (domains) that include land, air, maritime, cyberspace and space provide JWA 19's real-world venues for assessment and improvement.

"You can bring multiple domains into one space ... but you can imagine the complexity," said U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Eric J. Wesley, deputy commander of Army Futures Command and commander of Futures and Concepts Center, during an address to the NDIA Robotics Capabilities Conference in Columbus, Georgia, in April.

"Cyber, which happens in milliseconds; (electronic warfare), which you can't see; air, which moves at about 500 miles an hour; sea, which moves about 30 knots; and ground, which moves around two miles an hour," Wesley adds, "gets really complex. It gets more complex when you add the fact that different services at different echelons are responsible for those domains," he added.

Wesley, whose responsibilities include cultivating a capable MDO fighting force, said that he hopes to accomplish this by the year 2028 to follow the direction and vision of the Army Modernization Strategy, published April 3, 2018, by the Secretary of the Army Mark T. Esper.

Also included in the Army Modernization Strategy is the organizational concept known as the Multi-Domain Task Force (MDTF) which is another JWA 19 training initiative.

U.S. Army Col. Brandon C. Anderson, commander of the 17th Field Artillery Brigade is the Multi-Domain Task Force Commander for JWA 19.

MDTF is focused on our adversary's warfighting capabilities which would prevent our ability to effectively operate in their areas of interest, said Anderson.

MDTF also focuses on our ability to protect our own assets as we move across multiple warfighting domains, he added.

"This is done by integrating (and coordinating) all the lethal and non-lethal enablers into one complementary effort," said Anderson. "JWA 19 allows the Multi-Domain Task Force Headquarters to assess the required capabilities to conduct Multi-Domain Operations in a highly contested environment including cyber, long-range precision fires, permissions and the ability to visualize and command battlefield movements in all domains."

Along with MDO and MDTF is a U.S. Army-wide training initiative known as Joint Multinational Interoperability (JMNI) which aims to maximize U.S. military capabilities alongside partner nations on the battlefield.

JWA 19 provides an avenue to cultivate effective communication between the U.S. military and the participating partner nations of United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada, France, Australia and Singapore.

"We all have different systems and assets," said Davis. "We have to determine how we can create a cross-domain solution that allows us to operate together on the future battlefield."

British Army Lt. Col. Kevin Taffe, chief, Multinational Interoperability, JMC, said that exercises like JWA 19 allow for the evaluation and improvement of the U.S. military's capability to effectively operate alongside any one of its international partners by analyzing feedback from both U.S. and partner-military forces that is gathered before, during and after any particular action that is taken on the battlefield.

"Our senior leaders are very serious about operating effectively alongside one another and leveraging our capabilities as equal partners," Taffe said. "We (JMC) set the standard for our future capabilities, create milestones and roadmaps to get to that level and then measure against our assessments to refine and improve each year."

Training concepts MDO, MDTF and JMNI are year-round areas of focus for the U.S. Army, as well as its six modernization priorities, which are all being assessed at JWA 19, Davis said. Those priorities are Long-Range Precision Fires, Next-Generation Combat Vehicles, Future Vertical Lift (aerial vehicles), Air and Missile Defense, Networking Systems and Soldier Lethality.

"We are putting in a lot of time and effort to ensure we provide capabilities to our men and women in uniform, quickly and at a level that ensures success on the future battlefield," said Davis. "It is historic to have the opportunity to operationalize new concepts like these. We're helping the Army to modernize and move forward into the future, and we are better today than we were yesterday."

Photo: Left to right, U.S. Army Maj. Nathan Olin, Cyber Electronic Activities, Intelligence, Cyber, Electronic Warfare and Space Battalion, U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Travis Risley, Capability Development Integration Directorate, Army Futures Command and U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Richard W. Godfrey, Training and Doctrine Command’s Capabilities Manager for Electronic Warfare, Capabilities Development and Integration Division, Cyber Center of Excellence.

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