Experts from the NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCI Agency) are building on key lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic during Coalition Warrior Interoperability eXploration, eXperimentation, eXamination eXercise (CWIX) 2021.
The annual programme, which is led by Allied Command Transformation (ACT), is focused on interoperability, which ensures that forces can communicate and work together on NATO missions. The NCI Agency provides subject matter experts to conduct capability testing and deliver IT services during the exercise. This edition of CWIX, in particular, builds on lessons learned during last year's execution, which took place almost fully remotely for the first time due to the pandemic.
The exercise takes place from 7 to 25 June 2021.
"For the second year in a row we are implementing a hybrid execution solution, with most of the participating Nations and partners acting from their peacetime locations," said Miroslav Michev, the NCI Agency lead for exercise planning.
And again, the exercise will include testing of capabilities that could aid in NATO's response to future pandemics.
The NATO Medical Communication and Information Capability will comprise a suite of 14 software applications, supporting operations from the planning phase up to the lessons-learned phase.
At CWIX 2021, the NCI Agency will deploy one of these applications, which focuses on patient tracking. This application enables the precise and continuous monitoring of the location, intended destination and clinical condition of each individual patient within the continuum of care.
This patient tracking application results from a combined effort by ACT, Allied Command Operations (ACO) and the NCI Agency. Several months ago, ACT established a Tiger Team to focus on exploring new ways of delivering capabilities, in close cooperation with NCI Agency and in liaison with ACO. The Tiger Team is experimenting with using DevSecOps, a more speedy approach to developing software that focuses on security from day one, and prioritizes collaborating closely with industry to test and validate the software at every stage of its development. The patient tracking application is the first outcome of this endeavour.
At CWIX 21, the Agency will also deploy a NATO Data Lake, a single interface for multiple communities to access the data they need, in the format they need it. The Data Lake provides access to data from various communities, such as logistics, medical and operations.
"The Data Lake would be used as a source of information to tackle the response to the pandemic across the CWIX theatre of operations while employing a number of NATO and national capabilities," said Rytis Girdžius, a Senior Scientist at the NCI Agency.
The NCI Agency is primarily supporting CWIX 21 from its locations in The Hague, Netherlands and Bydgoszcz, Poland.
The Agency's Communications and Information Systems Support Unit (CSU) in Bydgoszcz built a dedicated technological environment for the 200 users coming on-site to attend CWIX 21.
"The numerous Virtual Private Network connections between the Nations and NATO create the hybrid digital environment to test numerous capabilities," said Bogdan Stachnik, Principal Technician for the Plans and Projects Section of CSU Bydgoszcz.
For a second time at CWIX, CSU Bydgoszcz delivered connectivity for the Nations to two networks: the Combined Federated Battle Laboratories Network (CFBLNet) and the unclassified network at JFTC.
"CWIX 21 is a unique opportunity that brings together NATO Nations and partners every year to ensure that we can interoperate together at multiple levels," said Alberto Perez-Veiga, Service Delivery Manager for Command and Control Services at the NCI Agency. "And in COVID times, CWIX 21 is the proof that multinational collaboration is more possible than ever."