EC11, an annual joint and coalition ISR interoperability demonstration, will run May 23 - June 3 at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., and at distributed locations worldwide.
By Army Sgt. Josh LeCappelain
USJFCOM Public Affairs
EC11, an annual joint and coalition intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) interoperability demonstration now in its eighth year, showcases more than 30 emerging ISR capabilities, and improves joint and combined ISR interoperability to support warfighters.
This year's event will run from May 23 - June 3 at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., with distributed locations at Camp Lejeune, N.C; the Joint Intelligence Lab and Joint Systems Integration Center in Suffolk, Va.; Langley Air Force Base, Hampton, Va.; Naval Air Weapons Center, China Lake, Calif.; service Distributed Common Ground Surface/System labs; coalition sites in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia; and the NATO Allied Command for Transformation in Norfolk, Va.
According to Air Force Col. Joe McDonald, USJFCOM Joint Intelligence Operations Center ISR integration, experimentation and system integration chief, this year's initiatives have potential to provide solutions to warfighter challenges in the areas of new sensors, improved ISR management tools and processes, and data sharing, among others.
"The hope is that we can provide actionable and relevant info to warfighters," said McDonald. "With ISR, what most see is merely the tip of the iceberg. If you collect 500 hours of full-motion video, there begs the question of what is the important part? We want to help break that down and make it truly usable to the warfighter.
"We're trying out the equipment before it gets fielded, so hopefully there are fewer issues once the equipment is actually fielded, he added. "We do tough assessments, which are very pass/fail driven."
Some of the equipment will be fielded to warfighters "near real-time," said McDonald, while others are assessed for their potential in the future.
McDonald called the event the "premier DOD ISR demonstration and assessment event," with 2,000 multinational participants involved in the event worldwide.
"On the ground at Fort Huachuca, we're going to have the U.K., Canada, and Australia in addition to U.S. personnel," McDonald said, adding that other multinational partners include Finland, Sweden, Denmark, France and the Netherlands. "The British and Canadians are going to have their own forward operating bases, just like they did last year. But this year we've spread everything out a bit more, to try and replicate the operating environment in Afghanistan and provide a more realistic setting to drive more realistic results."
He added that getting a chance to test capabilities in an environment with terrain, features and climate similar to Afghanistan was an invaluable tool for the British participants last year.
"They can't replicate an Afghanistan-like environment in the U.K. During EC10, they were able to identify equipment issues that occurred because of the heat, with some things actually melting. They couldn't replicate that back home," he said. "Since they deployed from Empire Challenge to Afghanistan, the event gave them the chance to discover an issue and fix it before it disrupted operations in theater."
The scenario used during EC11 are based on real-world tactics, techniques and procedures encountered by warfighters on the current battlefield, with a focus on operations in Afghanistan, McDonald said. During the demonstration, notional scenarios drive participants to react, helping provide an operational context assess the capabilities.