Representatives from around the globe are participating in the annual U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM)-led Empire Challenge 10 (EC 10) at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., and at locations worldwide.
By Army Sgt. Josh LeCappelain
(SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. – August 10, 2010) – Representatives from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom are participating in the annual U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM)-led Empire Challenge 10 (EC 10) here and at locations worldwide.
EC 10 is a multinational intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) demonstration that showcases emerging capabilities and provides lessons learned to improve joint and combined ISR interoperability.
Canadian Maj. George Johnston, Forward Operating Base (FOB) Ypres commander, said EC 10 was important to his team, as they were working closely with their British counterparts to establish tactics, techniques and procedures for Afghanistan, and get information on advancements in force protection technologies from their multinational partners.
“It’s important to us that we can share information with our allies. Empire Challenge presents us with a good place to test out our equipment in a realistic environment and see if we are going in the right direction,” Johnston said.
Johnston’s team at FOB Ypres is comprised of 51 Canadians, including service members, scientists, civilians and contractors from provinces all across Canada. It also includes two Australians.
Australian Maj. Allan Sutherland, who is embedded with the Canadian team, said the similarities between the two countries make partnering at EC a good fit.
“We are similar in size and capability to Canada. This gives us the chance to look at various capabilities determine their applicability to Australian systems,” Sutherland said. “We get to view a great range of other initiatives and take new ideas home with us.”
Johnston praised the work by Australians during his three-years participating in EC.
“We work very closely with the Australians and always invite them to participate with us (at EC),” he added. “We realized a long time ago that you have to share ISR information. Everyone has different standards for the different ISR styles. You have to know how to communicate with each other.”
To that end, Canada, the U.K., and the U.S. also are part of a NATO ISR project called the Multi-sensor Aerospace-ground Joint ISR Interoperability Coalition (MAJIIC), partnering with Norway, Poland, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy.
The Canadians brought several force protection tools and technologies with them to Arizona this year. Among them is the Longhouse persistent surveillance system, an aerostat and a radar system that adds all information they collect to the Coalition Shared Database for ISR sharing purposes.
Longhouse forms the Canadian ISR shelter and brings information from all sources into one location, where it can be identified and tracked.
They also tested technical demonstrative projects (TDPs) requested by the Canadian Department of National Defence. Examples of these projects include:
Johnston praised the conditions at Fort Huachuca as being excellent for testing out equipment Canadian warfighters need for their mission in the Kandahar Province of Afghanistan.
“The environment here is more like Afghanistan here than any place we could of gone in Canada,” he said. “It’s been very beneficial to what we need.”
British Maj. Matthew Boxford, executive officer of the British EC 10 contingent, echoed Johnston’s sentiments towards Fort Huachuca.
“The environment here is a faithful replica (of Afghanistan),” said Boxford, noting that most of his team members had been in Afghanistan within the last 12-18 months. “Most importantly, it is a secure environment where we can test technologies with our coalition partners. The only other place to do that would be Afghanistan. And there, if you’re wrong, people’s lives are in danger.”
Boxford said the team was focused on testing intelligence processing, C2 and patrol applications during EC 10, while improving interoperability with their coalition partners on the ground here. Thus far, the team has been excited with the results they have seen.
“We’ve already stretched our objectives here,” Boxford said. “We have already learned and done more than we originally intended to.”
“The collaborative effort here, led by USJFCOM, has been very successful. You’ve got a leadership effort, telling everyone which way to go to keep things moving. That’s highly important in an exercise like this,” he continued.