DVIDS – News – Technology gives fighters a decisive advantage in Resolute Dragon 2

Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD — Seventeen Marines, Airmen and Sailors gathered at Aberdeen Proving Ground for 12 days in June to demonstrate how advanced software works in concert with advanced chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) technologies can create a next-generation threat warning and protection capability on the battlefield. The exercise concluded with a demonstration for senior leaders from the country’s major chemical and biological defense program organizations on June 23.

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Chemical Biological Center (DEVCOM CBC) hosted the Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD), named Resolute Dragon 2, to demonstrate how the latest science and technology (S&T) CBRN under development at DTRA and integrated by DEVCOM CBC could be used to track and respond to battlefield threats in near real time using a Common Operating Picture, or COP.

The ATD had two components. First, warfighters engaged in war games, a tabletop digital training version of mission execution, in which they developed action plans to respond to CBRN threat scenarios. The second was the execution of the mission itself, following a threat scenario on the ground in which combatants made risk-based decisions using new software capabilities.

The built-in software capabilities are so sophisticated that commanders at every echelon see what they need to see. The Ground Tactical Unit Commander, Company Commander, Battalion Commander, and Joint Task Force Commander each see the COP on their own tablet in a form tailored to the specific decision-making needs at their level.

“At each level, what does the decision-maker need? Not all decision makers need the same set of data. If you’re on the cutting edge of tactics, you need a smaller dataset. You have to look at each echelon to make that correlation: what do I need and at what level,” said Darryl Colvin, who leads the Joint Program Executive Office for CBRN Defense. “What I see here today are very simple apps, pulling data from data-rich environments, especially when you start integrating these sensors.”

“We wanted to be able to show how CBRN data collected in the battlespace can generate information in a COP that allows the warfighter to present themselves and high-level decision makers to know as much as possible about the threat. This way, the best possible decisions can be made on how to protect warfighters in a dangerous CBRN environment,” said Chris High, ATD Program Manager at DTRA. “This capability advances the concept of joint command and control forces to command joint task forces at the speed of relevance.”

The DEVCOM CBC team, led by Fiona Narayanan, an electrical engineer and head of the nuclear, biological, chemical, battlefield integration branch, served as the interface between warfighters and technology. The on-the-ground scenario was a joint task force of U.S. Marines, Sailors, and Airmen being transported on warships to land on a fictional island in disputed waters. Their mission was to seize key assets on the island, but this was complicated by opposing forces releasing chemical and biological agents into the battlespace.

The virtual threat was closely monitored and mitigated by a prototype of hardware and software systems known as the austere environment.
Reconnaissance and Surveillance Platform (AERS). As lead technology integrators of the ATD program, Narayanan and his team at DEVCOM CBC designed and built this prototype platform to provide protection against chemical, biological and radiological forces. They were able to do this by developing and integrating hardware and software plug-ins that directly capture data sent in near real-time from the AERS prototype to higher echelons. Commanders at higher levels can use this CBRN information, including where and what the danger is, to be able to make risk-based decisions to protect their combatants in the field.

The sensors a fighter wears can also provide data for the calculation of their heat stress level, using algorithms that run on the AERS platform. Additionally, the plugins allow fighters to send or receive information about whether or not they have donned personal protective equipment (PPE), how much, and for how long.

Another feature of the plugins is that they allow fighters to run hazard prediction models based on information generated on the AERS platform. These include the use of sensors embedded on drones and robotic unmanned vehicles to maintain close surveillance of the threat. This data is displayed as color-coded alerts that create a pattern of the moving plume on the screen. The commander can then order fighters to protect themselves against the threat by donning PPE, redirecting, or standing in place.

Speaking to other senior CBDP leaders on the day of the demonstration, Dr Ronald Hann, Acting Director of Research and Development at DTRA, said: “I learned as a chemical officer in the 2nd Cavalry Regiment how to research opportunities and threats, and get countermeasures ready That’s what we’re doing with chemical biological threats here in this advanced technology demonstration He added that another benefit of this demo is that “we build a prototype, then let our fighters use it, get their feedback, and pass it on to the tech developers.”

Resolute Dragon 2 comes after a series of advanced technology demonstrations that first showcased embedded early warning technology, known as Perceptive Dragon I-IV, and the COP-based Resolute Dragon 1, which held at Savannah River National Laboratory in 2021. Hann used the occasion of Resolute Dragon 2 to state that these ATDs will continue as an annual event within the CBDP community.

The 17 fighters who participated learned to use CBRN defense technologies and were divided into three planning cells. Then they started playing war on the Joint Task Force mission objectives. They developed courses of action using data provided by the software’s decision support tools, selected their favorites, and virtually implemented them to see how they performed against the opposing force. It was a far cry from the old school method of using paper cards and magic markers, and the fighters were impressed.
Marine Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kevin Huff, a CBRN defense officer at Camp Pendleton in San Diego County, Calif., said, “This was a unique opportunity and from a planning standpoint, it is a great tool. The key takeaway for me is that the systems we want to see in 2030 already exist.”

Air Force Master Sgt. Matthew Woolery, installation emergency manager for the 319th Civil Engineer Squadron in Grand Forks, North Dakota, added, “I’m excited for the future. Being able to automate this way means I need fewer people to do chemical biological response missions. It frees the airmen to do other things and I don’t have to put them in danger.

Scientists and engineers from DTRA and DEVCOM CBC will use lessons learned from the experiences of participating warfighters to further refine COP technologies, software and S&T design. This, combined with the continued miniaturization and mobility of chemical bio-sensors and their delivery platforms, will make the upcoming cutting-edge technology demonstration in the summer of 2023 even more sophisticated.

Date taken: 27.07.2022
Date posted: 27.07.2022 13:20
Story ID: 425916

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