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Dec 14 2020

Corps Innovation: Exponentially Increasing Survivability, Command and Control

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GLOUCESTER, U.K. – Headquarters Allied Rapid Reaction Corps, and 1 (UK) Signals Brigade, are developing and harnessing new technology to maintain a leading edge, as NATO's War Fighting Corps Headquarters.

Exercise Loyal Leda 2020, saw a series of capabilities tested and developed within a program called 'Project Lelantos', an innovation activity focussed on improving the deployability of the headquarters. Lelantos, the Greek god of moving unseen and hunting, symbolises some key attributes which the headquarters is working with partners in industry to exponentially improve.

"It's a competitive world, so we have to work and make decisions and operate at high tempo."

Innovating, ready for tomorrow. This short video explains why the Corps is embracing technology and working with partners in industry, to transform the headquarters and maintain a leading and modern 21st century NATO Corps headquarters. Video by UK Sergeant P Shaw, HQ ARRC

Speaking about the headquarter's transformation and Capability Development and Capability programs, the ARRC's Chief of Staff, Major General John Mead said, "All military headquarters seek greater agility. [This is] a large headquarters of nearly a thousand people commanding over 100,000 people potentially at scale. So, you have got to be nimble. It's a competitive world, so we have to work and make decisions and operate at high tempo." 

During the exercise, signallers enjoyed their first opportunity to get 'hands-on' the equipment and test how easy it was to operate and deploy. British and NATO staff at HQ ARRC, as well as a host of senior UK and NATO visitors, also had an opportunity to look around the new mobile deployed staff working environments.

We are also improving situational awareness of the staff, by better enabling their access to information at any time.

One of the key architects of the project, Major Jonny Dale explained, "We are trying to improve the agility of the headquarters and keep the staff in location for a shorter amount of time, to reduce the chance of them being detected by our potential adversaries and improve the Command and Control of our staff over the troops on the ground, by allowing them to move with the flow of the battle as it goes forward."

This includes a raft of initiatives including, wireless networking technology, improved visualisation equipment such as a 'digital bird-table' and a mobile tactical command vehicle for the Commander to operate from as he moves around the battlefield.

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Signallers from 22 Signals Squadron, 1 (UK) Signals Brigade practice setting up and moving the Mobile Expandable Container Configuration (MECC), which forms the basis of the dispersible staff working environment. Photo by Warrant Officer Class 2, J Peters, HQ ARRC

Lessons identified from the exercise were captured by the UK subsidiary of Viasat, who are collaborating with CDW UK on a two-year Command, Control and Communications (C3) support contract for the UK MoD. These lessons are being used in what is call a 'spiral development' process to refine and tailor the final products in a fast and more agile manner.

Andrew Dobson UK Chief Technical Officer for ViaSat said, "This is the first program, which addresses manoeuvre shelter, manoeuvre power and agile C3, so it coheres those things in one single program.

What we really want is to develop a modular system, so this becomes the baseline standard and then we can build up and down in scale.

"We brough in SMEs to deliver very niche capabilities and in five weeks we've manged to go from an idea on paper, to what you see in this MECC [Mobile Expandable Container Configuration].

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The new Mobile Expandable Container Configuration (MECC) arrives for testing and experimentation on Exercise Loyal Leda 2020. Photo by Warrant Officer Class 2, J Peters, HQ ARRC

"People can collaboratively work and move around the headquarters. They can stand by the bird-table with their device, they can go and sit in other peoples' cells and do staff planning together where they need to collaborate. That's what the MECC and this concept brings.

"The next sprint will look at testing a 'cable free' work environment. This will make a massive difference to how people will operate. The end state is looking at someone from one Command Post being able to bring their terminal and be able to free-roam and work in a federated system."

The Corps is not just looking at traditional ways of working, but is supporting NATO's drive to embrace emerging technologies. This allows the headquarters to improve the way it operates itself and will aid developing all domain agility, with the ability to integrate at pace and operate across the continuum of conflict. Whether this is stability support operations or high intensity warfare, the ability to remain agile and operational is key.

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The mobile tactical command vehicle allows commanders to maintain situational awareness and operate, while moving around the battlefield. Photo by Warrant Officer Class 2, J Peters, HQ ARRC

The transformation program will modernise the headquarters over the next few years and support future real-world UK Defence and NATO requirements. The experimentation program and concepts being developed include 'operating dispersed' across a number of sites, making it harder for an enemy to find and target command post locations, and new equipment and technologies to make the headquarters smaller and more agile. This will reduce troop numbers and the physical, thermal and electromagnetic footprint of command posts, increase commanders' situational awareness, and offer new tools for flexible and digital ways of working.

Story by Allied Rapid Reaction Corps Public Affairs Office

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