Everything starts with an idea. For NATO, the Allied Command Transformation (ACT) 'Think-Tank for Information and Decision Execution Superiority’ (TIDE) Sprint encourages experts from Alliance and Partner Nations, industry and academia to generate ideas, concepts and solutions to improve interoperability between current and future capabilities.
From TIDE Sprint, recommendations are developed and matured to a point where they are tested and verified at events such as Coalition Warrior Interoperability eXercise (CWIX). Other recommendation and outcomes generate new concepts among NATO Nations and others may improve or develop capabilities multinationally that will need to be included in the NATO Defence Planning Process.
The 29th TIDE Sprint took place from April 3rd to 7th and was hosted by the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) in Saint-Malo, France. Almost 300 participants representing 27 nations explored some of the most pressing interoperability issues involving command and control in an increasingly persistent and federated environment. Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, Admiral Manfred Nielson, praised the think-tank, saying that it, "offers the perfect opportunity to discuss future trends and future developments not only with the classical defence industry, but also with the non-defensive industry."
In his keynote speech, Admiral Nielson also stressed the importance of NATO’s cyber endevours. "Cyber is not limited by geographical or political borders, nor by the classical warfighting domains," . In the 2016 NATO Summit, the Alliance recognized Cyber space as a domain of operations. Therefore, NATO must defend itself in this domain as effectively as it does in the air, on land, and at sea. But what does cyber defence mean for NATO in practice? One of ACT’s immediate concerns to is to persistently federate, by connecting independent networks, both human and technical to foster new habits of information sharing and collaboration. During this TIDE Sprint event, participants helped to define the Cyber space domain by advancing one of the key challenges, to achieve persistent cyber situational awareness.
Maritime Situational Awareness has been an important ‘track’ since the first TIDE Sprint back in 2005. At this TIDE Sprint participants identified opportunities to enhance situational awareness for the Commander through research conducted by The Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE). The CMRE has developed autonomous and remote-controlled under water robots to exploit new forms of data that will enhance the common operational picture for maritime commanders. One challenge discussed was to implement this novel data into legacy CIS systems. At this TIDE Sprint, maritime scientists, military experts and operators found solutions which will be tested during CWIX and if successful, improve capabilities and data availability for future NATO exercises. These incremental steps ensure that NATO maintains a technological edge over its potential adversaries in the maritime environment and can react when called upon.
This was only the second time that TIDE Sprint has included a Logistics ‘track’, but already it is making progress within the TIDE Sprint community. They used this event to consider new innovative and disruptive technologies, such as Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing, and their potential to change the nature of future logistics and warfighting capabilities. Mission-tailored unmanned systems, more precise ordnance with greater range, and new designs for parts and weapon systems were all considered as potential areas where this technology would greatly improve operational logistic support. Participants in the Logistic ‘track’ will explore this technology further, through workshops and experiments and by using events such as CWIX, taking forward the results as demonstrations of collaborative, multinational engagements in high visibility NATO exercises such as Exercise TRIDENT JUNCTURE 18. For citizens of the Euro-Atlantic area this means that NATO is exploring innovative, efficient and federated solutions to current and future security challenges.
TIDE Sprint events are not all about Cyber, Maritime or Logistic capabilities. The 29th TIDE Sprint included 12 technical ‘tracks’, each led by an expert and supported by a community of interest that had agreed to work toward clearly defined objectives. Experts from Alliance and Partner nation’s military and government organization came together with Industry and Academia to support all 12 tracks, improving interoperability amongst today’s NATO Communication and Information Systems capabilities, but importantly to address the interoperability problems of tomorrow.