USA — Experiment Introduces Sailors, Marines to New Technology

WASHINGTON, July 14, 2010 — As mem­bers of U.S. Fleet Forces Com­mand find new and inno­v­a­tive ways to prop­er­ly equip warfight­ers with the lat­est tech­nolo­gies, they’re “explor­ing the art of the pos­si­ble,” the chief of the command’s direc­torate of exper­i­men­ta­tion said yes­ter­day.

“It’s real­ly about us going out and bring­ing things to the fleet, bring­ing it out in a real-world envi­ron­ment and try­ing to make things bet­ter for the sailors and Marines that are out there,” Navy Capt. Carl Con­ti said dur­ing a “DoD Live” blog­gers round­table.

Tri­dent War­rior 2010, one of the largest and most com­plex Navy exper­i­ments afloat, serves as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to intro­duce new tech­nolo­gies to sailors and Marines, the cap­tain said. “What we try to do every year when we do Tri­dent War­rior, is to go out and find things that are out there — it might be a tech­nol­o­gy, process or pro­ce­dure — and take that infor­ma­tion out to sea and see how it works in the hands of folks that are going to be using it,” Con­ti said.

The exper­i­ment pro­vides a venue to test new ideas and inno­va­tions in a real-world envi­ron­ment, which max­i­mizes results, min­i­mizes costs and saves the tax­pay­er mon­ey, Con­ti explained. To find things to test, he added, the team may look at the chal­lenges that dif­fer­ent num­bered fleet com­man­ders face, for exam­ple.

“We look at things that are hurt­ing their heads,” he said. “What are their pri­or­i­ties? What is it that they need some help with?”

The team gath­ers that infor­ma­tion and pass­es it along for guid­ance. “Based on the guid­ance, we look at it and say, ‘Hey, we have an issue here, we have a seam, there’s a gap that needs to be solved,’ ” Con­ti said.

In this process of deter­min­ing the best tech­nolo­gies or process­es to adopt, the team also checks for what Con­ti called “whole­ness.”

“We … make sure that it’s not just a shiny object someone’s try­ing to put in front of the mil­i­tary to buy,” he explained. “It’s got to be some­thing that’s going to solve a prob­lem.”

But it does­n’t end there. The team also seeks advice from var­i­ous gov­ern­ment lab­o­ra­to­ries and gov­ern­ment sys­tem com­mands. “We need some help solv­ing these prob­lems,” Con­ti said. “And then they present their ideas, and then we vet those ideas and say, ‘OK, it might work, or it might not.’ ”

The team also reach­es out to indus­tries and exam­ines pro­pos­als that may help to solve some of the same issues. Con­ti said about 80 per­cent of their exper­i­men­ta­tion is based on gov­ern­ment sug­ges­tions.

Con­ti also said that Tri­dent War­rior helps to align ini­tia­tives in inter­op­er­abil­i­ty as well. The exper­i­ment helps not only from a tech­no­log­i­cal aspect, but also from the pol­i­cy aspect of how infor­ma­tion is shared, he said.

“We’ve real­ly tried this year to expand our hori­zons and to tack­le some of the real foun­da­tion issues that we have with infor­ma­tion shar­ing with our part­ners,” said Navy Cmdr. Dave Varnes, direc­tor of Tri­dent War­rior 2010.

Varnes added that one of the main focus­es of Tri­dent War­rior 2010 was mar­itime domain aware­ness, and one part of their exper­i­ment was to devel­op a shared access tool called the “All Part­ners Access Net­work.”

“It’s basi­cal­ly a Web col­lab­o­ra­tion tool that allowed us to com­mu­ni­cate infor­ma­tion via e‑mails, via chat and via map dis­plays,” Varnes said. This tool, he said, allows the capa­bil­i­ty to track peo­ple and items from one port to anoth­er.

Con­ti said exper­i­ments such as Tri­dent War­rior allow the Navy to main­tain its pos­ture and to best under­stand what cur­rent­ly is avail­able. The exper­i­ment also allows col­lec­tion of hard data, which can be used in help­ing to decide to keep pro­grams or move them in a dif­fer­ent direc­tion.

Con­ti added that the exper­i­men­ta­tion piece pro­vides valu­able insight into best prac­tices, which allows his team to exam­ine the best ways to accom­plish the mis­sion while avoid­ing pos­si­ble prob­lems.

“What I’m charged with doing here in Fleet Forces Com­mand is explor­ing the art of the pos­si­ble,” Con­ti said. “For us to do that, we have to find out what is out there that is pos­si­ble, what is out there that folks are work­ing on, and then tak­ing that infor­ma­tion and apply­ing it to how the warfight­er needs it.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)