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Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC)
The Future is Now: A Battle Lab Experience
by John Abbott and Benjamin Luciano
23 October 2020
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. --
It looks like a room out of a science fiction movie.
Rows of the latest computers are surrounded by large screens, nearly every wall in the room has one. In this room teams of decision makers receive and send information to expeditionary forces around the world in a real-world training program like no other.
The Navy Expeditionary Combat Force (NECF) needed a cost-effective training environment for its forces that provided realistic experiences, cost-effectively. The solution was to bring the future to life today; the solution was the battle lab.
Much like a chemistry lab; the battle lab gives Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen of the NECF a controlled, real-to-life experience they can learn from.
The battle lab provides a seamless training environment that enables realistic, cost effective training to improve NECF echelon III, IV and V command-and-control (C2) of assigned forces across the Full Range of Military Operations (ROMO). Navy Expeditionary Warfighting Development Center (NEXWDC) opened the battle lab in May of 2019 aboard Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek, Virginia Beach, VA.
NEXWDC provides advanced/ integrated training and assessment of NECF to effectively plan and execute integrated distributed operations in complex multi-echelon level Navy, Naval expeditionary environments. The NECF includes the Maritime Expeditionary Support Force, the Naval Construction Force, the Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Diving and Salvage Units; and Navy Expeditionary Logistics Force and units that provide unique intelligence capabilities. NECF forces must be trained and ready to execute their primary missions in a major combat operation, which is why the battle lab was created as a full-spectrum modelling and simulation training facility.
“This capability not only gives us a tool to hone the advanced warfighting skills of our expeditionary force, but it also allows us a technologically advanced means to connect to all Naval and Joint warfighters.” Said Capt. Nate Moyer, Commander EXWDC, “We are incredibly excited with this battle lab as it represents our ability to evolve and integrate our skill set with that of the fleet.”
The training certifies staffs to execute mission sets that support the major combat operations, foreign humanitarian and disaster relief, theater security cooperation, defense support of civil authorities, and other contingency operations.
These mission sets are tested through the Navy Integrated Exercise (NIEX), forward deployed Navy forces exercises, and fleet level exercise (i.e., LSE 2021, RIMPAC). This synthetic training increase collaboration with coalition and deployed commands while reducing overall administrative man-hours, and easing field related costs.
Since the capabilities to simulate a warfare environment, emulate systems or equipment, and model actors (including their interactions with other actors and their environment) are generally necessary to run such experiments,
modelling and simulation
is a major discipline required to operate a battle lab. This battle lab provides this realistic training experience within a synthetic environment with its employed Navy Continuous Training Environment (NCTE) Network. NCTE connects constructive, virtual, and live systems to generate synthetic war-gaming, support fleet readiness, and is the central vehicle that drives exercises. The network integrates NECC Forces into an immersed and realistic war gaming environment with integrated U.S. Naval forces. This state-of-the-art equipment and services is designed to connect/interact with higher, adjacent, and subordinate forces operating from a field environment using primary, secondary, and tertiary systems.
The NEXWDC battle lab consists of two separate Tactical Operations Centers (TOC), each seating up to support 24-persons, and an Exercise Control or EXCON cell. Each TOC is equipped with the latest audio-visual equipment and simulators. Multi-domain network services provide Commanders, staff, and watch floor personnel command and control of divergent exercises and missions. Multiple video walls assist with collaboration and can be configured to display individual user data and the common tactical picture. The Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Tactical Warfare Simulation, and Joint Semi-Automated Forces simulators generate track data that can be displayed in worldwide operations centers using the Global Command and Control (GCCS) Joint server. GCCS clients, Joint Common Tactical Workstations, and Command and Control Personal Computers can display fleet common operational pictures and integrate commercial and tactical links like the automatic identification and blue force tracking systems. The Joint Training and Experimentation hub provides a seamless battle lab connection to DOD and joint force simulation centers, enabling distributed joint training capabilities at every echelon level. The functional and flexible design of the battle lab allows NEXWDC staff to replicate headquarters and tactical operations providing an appropriate theater complexity and diverse environment that prepares NECF for the high-end fight.
NEXWDC is a subordinate command of the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC). NECC is responsible for organizing, manning, training, equipping, and sustaining the NECF to execute combat, combat support, and combat service support missions across the full spectrum of Naval, Joint, and Combined operations which enable access from the sea and freedom of action throughout the sea-to-shore, and inland operating environments.
NEXWDC was established to train and support the NECF in threat doctrine, and tactics at the advanced/integrated level; conduct warfighting capability assessments to identify and mitigate Navy expeditionary, and anti-terrorism force protection capability gaps; and validate and integrate concepts into doctrine and tactics.
The Navy Expeditionary Combat Force NECF is postured to anticipate and rapidly respond to the changing security environment. NECF’s warfighting capabilities as a whole are greater than the sum of its individual parts, and we ensure the integrated naval force continues to dominate on the high seas and across the littorals in an era of Great Power Competition. The NECF is manned, trained, and equipped to clear, secure, build, and protect critical assets and waterways in order to execute full spectrum military operations in support of the Fleet and Joint Force.
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