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The NPS Field Experimentation Program Methodology/Rationale

Field experiments are conducted in which innovation and collaboration are encouraged between DoD, government agencies, industry, and universities, and in which SOF, National Guard, and First Responder participation and feedback are utilized to explore the effectiveness, affordability, and feasibility of potential capabilities.  Major focus is placed on network communications, unmanned systems, airspace management and deconfliction, situational awareness, collaborative environments, sensors, biometrics, modeling and simulation, and human systems integration.  Individual experiments and integrated operational scenarios are both utilized.  Quarterly field experiments are conducted at Camp Roberts, CA where controlled air space is readily available for UAS operations, a Tactical Operations Center is maintained, and a wireless network backbone is in place to provide reach-back and real-time participation by remote sites.

The primary purpose of the USSOCOM-NPS Field Experimentation Cooperative is to explore viability of new Special Operations Forces (SOF) technology concepts as solutions for identified current and future capability gaps, as well as provide a venue for short fused experimentation requirements. The program relies heavily on the operational knowledge of NPS’s joint student body.  Students from all services (Navy, Army, Air Force, Marine Corp.) and many foreign officers are involved. A unique benefit is that most of those students have valuable operational experience that they bring to the experiments. Through the years USSOCOM and the different Component Commands (USASOC, AFSOC, NSWC, MARSOC, and JSOC) have come to participate in and support the field experiments.   

 

History of Field Experimentation at NPS

The NPS Field Experimentation Program was initiated in FY02 to provide an opportunity for NPS faculty and students to evaluate new technologies from their research in a field environment.  These efforts were continued and integrated to create a cooperative effort with USSOCOM which began in FY03. Congressional funding (CDTEMS) together with funding from USSOCOM has permitted 1-2 week long quarterly field experiments to be conducted, using laboratories on the NPS campus, the NPS Beach Laboratory and CIRPAS (Marina Airport), Monterey Bay, the MOUT facility at Fort Ord, and an NPS CIRPAS UAV test facility at California Army National Guard’s, Camp Roberts, CA.  As the cooperative developed, other sites have been used for experimentation; these include Avon Park (FL), Camp Dawson (WV), and Camp Atterbury (IN).

In FY03, the effort was coined the Surveillance and Target Acquisition Network (STAN).  STAN was formed by the Dean of Research, Dr. David W. Netzer and a student, Christopher Manuel. CW2 Manuel, who was the first Chief Warrant Officer to attend NPS, helped to create the first prototype Remote Observation Video Encoded Receiver (ROVER) system. This device’s purpose was to provide soldiers with the means to receive Predator video on the tactical battlefield. This had the potential for providing the soldier not only red force tracking, but blue force tracking also. The motivation for providing friendly force positions to attack aircraft came from the premature death of CW2 Stan Harriman, killed by an AC-130 H in Afghanistan.  CW2 Manuel felt strongly that better situational awareness (SA) via commercial off the shelf (COTS) products could prevent fratricide. The main objective for STAN was to reduce soldiers load, increase combat effectiveness, provide situational awareness, reduce fratricide find and fix enemy personnel and equipment.  STAN experiments focused on providing the soldier on the ground the ability to push-pull video, data, and text messages with other soldiers and with other ISR assets in the area in both rural and urban environments.  It utilized air and ground based wireless networks, satellites, unmanned vehicles (UAVs, UGVs, AUVs, airships, tethered balloons), unattended ground sensors, and handheld PDAs to greatly enhance situational awareness and to enhance our ability to find, fix, and identify enemy personnel and equipment.  The INTER-4 Tacticomp was one of the primary end products of the FY04 program.  The Tacticomp was used in theater by the U.S. Army.    

Starting in FY05 STAN became the Tactical Network Topology (TNT) program. The name change was made primarily because USSOCOM had developed programs of record from STAN efforts and wanted to explore a wider range of technologies. With the transition of STAN to TNT came more involvement from the USSOCOM Component Commands.  The goal was to focus on identifying key gaps and deficiencies that could be addressed by the application of advanced technology, particularly network communications, unmanned systems and net-centric applications.  Promising technologies are usually carried from one set of experiments to the next, only if they continue to develop new capabilities.

Since 2009, the field experiments are conducted such that innovation and collaboration are encouraged between DoD, government agencies, industry, and universities, and in which SOF, National Guard, and First Responder participation and feedback are utilized for effectiveness, affordability, and feasibility of future capabilities.  Major focus is placed on SOF applications of communications, unmanned systems, airspace management and deconfliction, situational awareness, collaborative environments, sensors, biometrics, modeling and simulation, and human systems integration.  Individual experiments and integrated operational scenarios are both utilized.  Quarterly field experiments are conducted at Camp Roberts and Fort Hunter Liggett where controlled air space is readily available for UAS operations, a Tactical Operations Center is maintained, and a wireless network backbone is in place to provide reach-back and real-time participation across the 42,000 acre range.

 

Objectives

The US Special Operations Command – Naval Postgraduate School Field Experimentation Cooperative exists primarily to:

1. Explore viability of new SOF technology concepts as solutions for identified current and future capability gaps, as well as provide a venue for short fused experimentation requirements.

2. Provide unique interdisciplinary graduate education experience for NPS students and research opportunities for NPS faculty in which the latest technologies, concepts of operation, and human systems integration are evaluated for SOF applications in a field environment.

3. Create an environment that encourages collaboration and seeds innovation.  The experiments support the development of emergent solutions to SOF challenges in a pre-acquisition, pre-requirement environment.
A secondary objective is to examine dual-use capabilities for homeland security, stabilization, reconstruction and disaster relief/humanitarian assistance thereby enhancing partnering opportunities for SOF in the interagency and international environment.

Background

The objectives are accomplished through a series of quarterly field experiments. There are two components of the quarterly experiments. The primary component and venue is based out of Camp Roberts, CA, where operations focus on air and ground based networks (wireless, SATCOM, IPv6, etc.), networked sensors, unmanned/autonomous vehicles, situational awareness (SA), collaboration technologies with reach-back, and human systems integration. Supporting operations are conducted at other venues, including Avon Park, FL. and Fort Hunter Liggett, CA, which are also utilized and linked into the network backbone. Other venues that have been that TNT has operated in the past were Camp Atterbury and Camp Dawson.  

The Cooperative also supports an additional set of experiments focused on, Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO), which occur bi-annually.  MIOs have been based in the San Francisco Bay area in the past, but recently have taken place in Hampton Roads, Greece, Sweden, and Germany. That venue includes ocean, bay, and riverine environments and includes simultaneous participation by a significant number of foreign countries and first responders.   

Key stakeholders are USSOCOM, NSWC, AFSOC, USASOC, MARSOC, and JSOC. USSOCOM SORDAC S&T and the NPS provide one of the two co-directors.

Various government facilities have also provided technologies and capabilities, LLNL provided UWB communications, radiation and explosives detection; DTRA provided nuclear manufacturing equipment identification; AFRL provided JASMAD for airspace planning and deconfliction; USASOC provides experienced warfighters for assessments; AFSOC provides an experienced air traffic controller to support the manned and unmanned vehicles flying in Camp Roberts restricted airspace; California National Guard provides guardsmen to drive tactical vehicles; ARL provides tactical vehicles for realistic scenarios; and USMC provides reservists to help with warfighter assessments; etc.

Various companies have participated in past experiments. A typical event has over 50 industry participants providing or experimenting with such things as: high altitude balloon for comms relay, unmanned vehicles, network infrastructure, situational awareness tools, and biometrics equipment. Participation by non-government entities is permitted only in the context of an appropriate legal arrangement for the activity proposed. A significant number of universities also participate by bringing their latest emerging technologies. Recent events have included participation by the University of California, Harvard University, Carnegie Mellon University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Johns Hopkins University, and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The experiment plan for each field event is jointly developed by a Working Group which consists of NPS, USSOCOM SORDAC S&T, and J9. All the USSOCOM Component Commands are invited to participate in working group discussions.

NPS provides infrastructure support which includes the Camp Roberts McMillan Airfield facility, network backbone, and logistics support.  In addition, NPS students and faculty evaluate some of their latest technologies (and those of other organizations) in the field environment. These areas include, but are not limited to, unmanned/autonomous vehicles (UASs, UGVs, AUVs, USVs), wireless networks, collaboration technology, situational awareness, smart antennae, IED detectors, modeling and simulation, cognitive modeling, meteorological data, and human systems integration.

Participation

Participation is by invitation only. Commercial participation includes contractors who are paid to provide services, vendors who provide presentations and/or demonstrations, and participants who through an appropriate vehicle such as an existing contract for the USG, a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA), Cooperative Agreement (CA), etc., actually work with other government participants to demonstrate/explore capabilities.

For participating entities, registration is available at: http://www.socom.mil/SORDAC/DIRECTORATES/SCIENCETECHNOLOGY/Pages/ExpEvents.aspx

For commercial and government entities that think they can provide a new capability to the warfighter, the process begins with a white paper submitted to: http://www.socom.mil/sordac/Pages/ExpWithUS.aspx

The white paper should describe the capability that exists and the impact that the entity thinks their technology will have on the Special Operations (SO) warfighter. USSOCOM and each of its associated commands publish their requirements and gaps in a variety of places. We will also consider capabilities and technologies that impact domestic or international emergency and first responders.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION USE OF INFORMATION

The purpose of this notice is to gain information leading to Government/Industry collaboration for development of technologies and capabilities, and to assist in accelerating the delivery of these capabilities to the warfighter. No proprietary information should be contained in the information paper. The government will not use proprietary information unless specifically requested.  The protection of proprietary information remains the responsibility of the organization holding the proprietary information and NPS does not accept responsibility for any proprietary information specifically acknowledged as part of a formal agreement.

Lessons learned by NPS from these experiments may be broadly disseminated within the government and may or may not be shared with individual participants at the discretion of the NPS Director.

SPECIAL NOTICE: Commercial entities should be aware that contractor consultant/advisors to the Government will review and provide support during evaluation of submittals. When appropriate, non-government advisors may be used to objectively review a particular functional area and provide comments and recommendations to the Government. Submission constitutes approval to release the submittal to Government Support Contractors.
There is no obligation on the part of the government to respond or otherwise act on any information paper or proposal. If USSOCOM-NPS Field Experimentation Cooperative deems the information paper to be of interest we may arrange for a presentation either in Tampa, or Monterey, and/or a presentation or demonstration at Camp Roberts. Typically, we will require a visit to Camp Roberts prior to confirming participation since the environment is both unique and dynamic. If either USSOCOM or NPS thinks it appropriate to move forward, we will establish (or verify) an appropriate vehicle to support the level of participation desired. The commercial entities’ travel costs and technology demonstrations will be at their own expense and at their own risk.

This is an official U.S. Navy website.
All information contained herein has been approved for release by the NPS Public Affairs Officer.
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