Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) and the 353d Combat Training Squadron (353d CTS) operate and manage the premiere joint combat training venue – RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A). RF-A exercises are held at the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC) at Eielson Air Force Base and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. JPARC is the largest instrumented air, ground, and electronic combat training range in the world. With multiple joint and coalition forces exercises per year, RF-A provides relevant and real-world air and ground combat scenarios with realistic threats and targets.
As many as 90 aircraft and 2,000 personnel participate in the RF-A tactical exercises that cover 66,000 square miles of training airspace and 1.6 million acres of often-rugged land in the joint Air Force/Army-managed JPARC. The JPARC encompasses more than $200 million worth of equipment and instrumentation to support warfighter training exercises.
In addition to size and cost, PACAF has the added responsibility to ensure that sensitive data is not accessed or leaked to unauthorized parties or systems – especially critical when training multinational coalition forces. To provide the most realistic training for the warfighter, which includes multiple nations and clearance levels, a cross-domain solution was needed. To best support the required live, virtual, and constructive (LVC) aspects of the joint training, this cross-domain solution had to be near-real time, support a flexible protocol, and be able to obtain an authority to connect (ATC) at the Secret and Below Interoperability (SABI) level.
The Joint Deployable Electronic Warfare Range (JDEWR) was developed to bring PACAF’s training capabilities to a wider audience. JDEWR, a mobile Electronic Warfare-oriented autonomous platform, is a system of systems that provide tactical-level training to participants in live training events around the world. Frequently, these events have limited or no range instrumentation or on-site training capabilities. JDEWR has been used to support multinational and joint exercises at weapon ranges in Thailand, Australia, and Canada, and unit-level training in South Korea.
To mitigate the issues of securing sensitive data while allowing participants at different clearance levels to train together, PACAF adopted the SimShield cross-domain solution from Forcepoint™. SimShield allows for secure, bi-directional interoperability among LVC assets that are dissimilarly classified. SimShield supports the standards-based Test and Training Enabling Network Architecture (TENA) protocol utilized by JPARC and JDEWR. By deploying SimShield within the architecture, JPARC can utilize secure bi-directional integration and interaction of all equipment and sub-systems throughout the training environment.
The SimShield deployment in the JPARC environment was certified and accredited in June 2009 and subsequently placed on the Unified Cross Domain Management Office (UCDMO) Baseline list. SimShield is currently the only TENA cross-domain solution on the UCDMO Baseline list.
JPARC exercise participants now have a battlespace that is fully integrated, regardless of individual system classifications, and is reflective of a real-world combat environment. Classified information is granularly filtered to permit threat engagements and training while retaining classified capabilities for debrief. PACAF was the first to envision that a cross-domain solution could provide the ability to train diverse groups with dissimilarly classified systems from U.S. tanks and airplanes to multinational forces in real-world scenarios.
PACAF has, and continues to, pave the way within the weapons range security community. They were the first weapons range to receive full Department of Defense (DoD) Information Assurance Certification and Accreditation (C&A) Process (DIACAP) Authority to Operate (ATO) approval. And, they were the first to foster a TENA cross-domain solution through the SABI C&A process. Before inclusion of a cross-domain guard solution, each group trained separately. This was not realistic and was very costly for the training range. Because the training audiences had to be segregated, training was inhibited and PACAF encountered problems connecting external systems to expand the battlespace and include other LVC joint assets.
Both JPARC and JDEWR meet the unique mission requirement to train large groups of people using systems at different classification levels. To achieve a training environment that is as close to a real-world scenario as possible, exercise participants need to operate in a cohesive and connected battlespace regardless of dissimilarly classified systems and access levels. This was not possible before the use of SimShield and the TENA protocol.