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Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism C Rapid Reaction Technology Office Test Planning, Conduct, Analysis, and Reporting Two organizations provide primary support for the test planning, conduct, analysis, and reporting for experiments of the Rapid Reaction Technology Office (RRTO) conducted at the Joint Experimentation Range Complex (JERC). The U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Special Surveillance Programs Office is the lead agency for overseeing and providing technical expertise for test planning, conduct, and analysis. The National Counterterrorism/Counterinsurgency Integrated Test and Evaluation Center (NACCITEC) provides a capability for experimental testing. Members of the Committee on Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism visited the JERC in November 2008 as part of the committee’s data-gathering efforts. OVERVIEW OF THE TESTING AND REPORTING PROCESS NAVAIR is the integration organization and the point of contact between the test equipment manufacturer and NACCITEC. NAVAIR has developed standard test planning and test reporting templates for use with RRTO projects, and the manufacturer typically drafts a test plan according to the planning templates, with NAVAIR and NACCITEC guidance. Several test plans and reports were reviewed by the Committee on Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism and were found to follow a systematic, disciplined process. The RRTO provides funding and oversight; experimentation planning and execution are conducted by NAVAIR. A variety of experiments are conducted every 7 to 8 weeks on new or modified equipment available for testing. The test plan and program introduction document information (e.g., data requirements, range equipment support requirements)
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Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism must be submitted to NACCITEC a minimum of 4 weeks prior to the scheduled test period. From NAVAIR’s perspective, ensuring the availability of adequate test support resources and range support experts for some areas, such as range safety for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), is a challenge. Test results are documented in Quick Look Experimentation Reports, prepared by NAVAIR. These reports address test results, test threat or target specifics, capabilities and limitations, test dilemmas, safety issues, survivability, unknowns, and overall conclusions and recommendations. After review by the RRTO, the Quick Look Experimentation Reports are archived and posted on a Web site. NACCITEC prepares an “Event Record” for each test, and a “Weekly Battle” report for the JERC, which documents the testing accomplished. Projects are terminated when an application is not adopted by the warfighter or by another science and technology organization. Upon project termination the data from such projects are archived for potential future use. On the basis of information gathered by the committee during its November 18, 2008, site visit, it appears that in cases where initial experiments have not been adopted, the knowledge gained from these documented experiments provides critical data for future experimental use. A secure videoconference chaired by the RRTO is held biweekly, with all interested organizations participating. Field operational personnel participate frequently and provide valuable feedback on equipment fielded as well as insights into future experiments. The experimentation planning and execution process in support of the RRTO has unique positive features that do not exist in a classical DOD experimentation or acquisition environment. Management of the testing and evaluation process by NAVAIR and Army support from NACCITEC combine to produce a balanced, objective technical assessment of the capabilities and limitations of the item being evaluated. This oversight construct is unique in that neither the RRTO nor the test support organizations are in an advocacy role for the items being evaluated. NATIONAL COUNTERTERRORISM/COUNTERINSURGENCY INTEGRATED TEST AND EVALUATION CENTER In December 2003, the Rapid Reaction Technology Office (then the Combating Terrorism Technology Task Force) began building a capability—the JERC—at Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) in Arizona for experimental testing. The facility began operating in January 2004. NACCITEC was established in 2005 at YPG as a dedicated organization to support the testing and evaluation of technologies to counter terrorist threats. The center currently focuses on testing technologies to combat improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which are today’s foremost terrorist
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Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism threat. Testing involves explosive devices, triggers, obstructives,1 and vehicles in tactical emplacements. NACCITEC is composed of three JERCs. Two of these complexes replicate urban warfare sites in a desert environment, and the third replicates desert mountain roads typical of Afghanistan. The range is heavily instrumented to support counter-IED test activities; essentially all test data are acquired on a real-time basis, facilitating rapid analysis of test results. The Army, supplemented by a range support contractor, provides onsite personnel support. Test support was initially staffed to provide 24-hour-per-day/7-day-per-week coverage; it is currently staffed to sustain 6-day-per-week/24-hour coverage. Testing is typically conducted on several technologies during 1- to 2-week blocks every several weeks. The range support contractor has approximately 80 temporary on-call employees to support surge operations during intensive test periods. Current staffing is approximately 28 government and 320 contractor personnel. According to information provided to the committee, the size of the workforce is considered by range managers to be about right. However, they would prefer a higher percentage of government personnel.2 A test can be initiated through one of two processes: (1) The customer can contact NACCITEC directly by completing a request for test services, which is sent to the U.S. Army Development Test Command (DTC); when the request is approved, the test is initiated in the Army DTC Command Automated Decision Support Systems (ADSS). (2) The U.S. Army DTC can task NACCITEC with testing, and the DTC then initiates the tasks in the ADSS. There are also procedures to accommodate private-industry contracts to determine if a test can proceed at YPG. Once approved, the test is initiated in the ADSS. The entire test planning and execution process was developed to provide rapid support to critical problems in the theater. However, most efforts in reaction to urgent threats occur without strategic planning. Range personnel stated to the committee that, because of the rapid-reaction nature of their mission, there was an initial tendency to ignore too many rules; however, with time, checks and balances evolved. The “bureaucracy” is increasingly injecting itself by requesting that additional reviews and coordination be accomplished.3 In general, a key to continued success is having the proper checks and balances to 1 Obstructives are objects used in particular ways to mask or reflect signals or to obscure a line of sight for specific purposes during tests of certain systems. 2 Discussions between committee members and NACCITEC personnel during the committee’s site visit to the Joint Experimentation Range Complex, Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, on November 18, 2008. 3 Discussions between committee members and NACCITEC personnel during the committee’s site visit to the Joint Experimentation Range Complex, Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, on November 18, 2008.
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Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism ensure adequate technical and safety discipline without unnecessarily impeding rapid response. Range personnel characterize “then” and “now” approaches to supporting rapid reaction. As described to the committee, initially the test community would use firm requirements and design documents and then test specifications of the end capability. Now they use an urgent operational need statement and a more authoritative concept of operations and test how the operator will use the capability. They continue testing if the capability is in hand and also recommend adaptations of the solution, as appropriate. They also use feedback from the field if available, but this has been sporadic to date.4 A “red team” emphasis is employed in test planning for experiments at YPG. The red team’s focus is to identify potential countermeasures to defeat operational concepts and technologies. However, range personnel stated that a shortfall in test design is the lack of an adequate interface with the intelligence community. There is a need at the center for quick access to intelligence personnel who have an understanding of testing and experimentation and can translate intelligence information into practical and realistic tests. The biweekly videoconferences chaired by the RRTO are a valuable resource for experimentation planning activities (and necessary for the intelligence interface), but the requisite secure video capability does not exist at YPG, which impedes mission planning as well as other activities. The test community does not involve itself in logistical support considerations for rapid reaction. Test range priorities, with some exceptions, are not generally a problem because the JERCs are, with minor exceptions (e.g., some time-space-position instrumentation), essentially autonomous, according to NACCITEC personnel. Personnel also observed that priorities become a problem, however, in the construction of new facilities that are managed by the YPG Public Works organization. One JERC has landline power but the other two do not and currently must rely on less reliable generators for power. It is possible to install landlines to the latter two sites, but because of distances and topography it would be relatively expensive. ISSUES AND CONCERNS REGARDING TESTING THAT WERE RAISED DURING THE COMMITTEE’S SITE VISIT During the committee’s site visit, several issues arose with respect to the support that NACCITEC provides to the RRTO. Issues raised by NACCITEC personnel included the following: 4 Discussions between committee members and NACCITEC personnel during the committee’s site visit to the Joint Experimentation Range Complex, Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, on November 18, 2008.
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Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism Infrastructure sustainment: Range personnel expressed concern with respect to adequate sustainment funding. The NACCITEC ranges currently enjoy a much higher than normal percentage of direct customer-reimbursable funding for range operations (approximately 90 percent); the remaining 10 percent comes from Army institutional funding.5 In the long term, this funding profile could negatively impact the sustainment of range capabilities, particularly if a downturn in testing occurred. An adverse impact on sustainment funding would also be experienced if the current high level of Office of the Secretary of Defense/RRTO support changed and there was need to compete for a higher percentage of Army institutional funding. The need for sustainment is growing as more sophisticated facilities are developed and are used only sporadically. Frequency authorization: NACCITEC personnel explained that the process for obtaining radio-frequency authorization for realistic testing of theater devices and frequencies needs more attention. Current operations require testing with actual devices and frequencies used in-theater. The frequencies and power levels of these devices, as well as the jammers to defeat them, are often in conflict with U.S. Federal Communications Commission regulations on frequency allocations and uses. Effective testing requires employing these devices, yet the process for obtaining a rational risk assessment of the devices is problematic. All parties involved in the testing do a “best engineering effort” to mitigate interference, but such engineering efforts cannot resolve this long-standing frequency interference issue. Realistic intelligence data from Afghanistan: Range personnel stated that a shortfall exists in test design due to the lack of sufficient interface and support from the intelligence community. The issue of insufficient access to intelligence personnel who can translate intelligence information to practical tests based on what is happening on the ground in Afghanistan needs to be resolved. Possible contributing factors include the lack of an interface and limited access to secure teleconferencing. Vulnerability analysis: A broadening of involvement with the test community is needed. Personnel “burnout”: Center personnel have experienced burnout after 5 years of high-intensity activities 5 Discussions between committee members and NACCITEC personnel during the committee’s site visit to the Joint Experimentation Range Complex, Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, on November 18, 2008.