NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency staff members made key contributions to the fall 2019 Think-tank for Information, Decision and Execution Superiority (TIDE) Sprint, sharing their extensive technical expertise, giving demonstrations and presenting new concepts.
NATO Allied Command Transformation (ACT) hosts the event, which focuses on solving the Alliance's most pressing interoperability challenges. The 34th TIDE Sprint was divided into 13 tracks that address different areas, such as Federated Mission Networking (FMN), cyberspace and data science. The Agency staff members who attended brought back insights into the latest state-of-the-art technologies and requirements for NATO capability development and operations.
Amongst others, the NATO Cyber Security Centre participated in the TIDE Sprint. At the event, staff from the Centre presented a concept for Cyber Situational Awareness they have been developing, with Headquarters Supreme Allied Commander Transformation sponsorship.
"We received some extremely valuable comments from national representatives who are currently tackling some of the same challenges in this area, at a national level," Manisha Parmar, a senior scientist at the Centre, said of the event.
As cyberspace has become NATO's fourth operational domain, the Centre is aiming to develop capabilities to support commanders when they execute missions in, and through, possibly contested cyberspace.
"TIDE Sprint allows us to get in touch with a very diverse group of people where we can showcase work, and receive comments, validations or criticisms, which in turn are applied to create richer products," Parmar said.
Another staff member, Principal Enterprise Architect Gernot Friedrich, led the "Tactical Edge" track during TIDE Sprint.
In this track, participants explored ways to identify and select standards needed to help Allies develop interoperable technology for their troops. The track focused in particular on supporting land forces, from the brigade level down to the individual dismounted soldier.
The goal is simple: help military forces from Allies and Partners work better together to meet the new operational reality where land forces fight as multinational formations at the tactical level. Important to this effort is the FMN initiative, which is focused on improving consultation, command and control interoperability across NATO Nations and potential coalition Partners.
“My area of work is directly linked to the DNA of NATO: interoperability. We are always saying 'how can you expect two systems to work together if you do not enable the people that develop these systems to talk to each other?'" Friedrich said. "That's where it all starts. You have to have a common understanding of the problem. If we can't federate at the tactical level Commanders won't have the required information and data to make decisions at the operational and strategic level."
That is why TIDE Sprint is so useful, Friedrich said. It is a more informal forum for NATO, industry and academic experts to discuss common problems and develop solutions.
“We have access to people that we otherwise would not have access to, we get ideas and then we can share our ideas with them – we can influence them," Friedrich said of the TIDE Sprint event.
Participants in the Tactical Edge track are examining standards and developing reference architectures that can be used in the future to make tactical radios and battle management systems work seamlessly together.
During the conference, Friedrich also provided other tracks with a perspective on interoperability, FMN and the challenges of expanding interoperability into the tactical domain.
"For example, the Data Centric Security track. They are developing a long-term concept for data centric security," Friedrich said. "We said, 'okay if that concept is going to work, how does it impact on the tactical edge? Could it provide an opportunity to replace existing security models, and does such a new concept consider the unique requirements of working in disconnected, intermittent, limited bandwidth environments?'"
Agency staff members actively engaged in all 13 tracks, but they primarily focused on the following nine areas:
Data Centric Security
Federated Mission Networking (FMN)
Federated Service Management and Control (SMC)