NATO's Strategic Warfare Development Command

Allied Command Transformation to Conduct Operational Experimentation at Dynamic Messenger 2023

September 4, 2023

Allied Command Transformation will be conducting operational experiments at NATO’s Dynamic Messenger 2023 exercise from September 18-29, 2023, driving innovation as well as capability and interoperability development in maritime unmanned systems.

Allied Command Transformation, alongside Allied Maritime Command will conduct NATO’s Dynamic Messenger 2023 exercise from September 18-29, 2023, at the Maritime Operational Experimentation Centre near Troia, Portugal. During this two-week exercise, participants will execute several operational experiments to explore and implement its Multi-Domain Operations concept and derive observations, analysis, and lessons learned that can feed the development of the Alliance’s tactics, techniques and procedures in the use of maritime unmanned systems. Dynamic Messenger 2023 is the second edition of NATO’s only operational experimentation exercise focused on maritime unmanned systems, and will bring together military, industry, and academia to increase innovation as well as drive capability and interoperability development.

In support of the execution of the exercise, Allied Command Transformation is leading the harmonization of its “Programme of Work” and will contribute to the assessment of Emerging Disruptive Technologies that will be tested in an operational maritime context. In particular, the Command will examine the maturity of the systems being tested, notably as it relates to autonomy, and verify the level of interoperability and integration maritime unmanned systems are able to achieve with NATO assets. Through these efforts, the Command will support the Alliance’s capability and concept development efforts by enhancing information sharing, consultation, command, and control, as well as the integration of maritime unmanned systems into the NATO Force and Command Structures.

Concurrent to Dynamic Messenger 2023, Allied Command Transformation will be working towards establishing the initial operating capability of the Operational Experimentation Emerging Disruptive Technologies Task Force in late autumn 2023. This exercise presents an opportunity to explore technologies to advance the Autonomy Implementation Plan. Through these operational experiments, the Task Force will identify technology options for further experimentation in 2024. Additionally, the Task Force team will be refining objectives and evaluation criteria for future events focused on Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance and situational awareness within the maritime domain.

In addition to furthering the understanding of maritime unmanned systems, Dynamic Messenger 2023 contributes to NATO’s efforts to become a Multi-Domain Operations-enabled Alliance, bolstered by Digital Transformation. Notably, the exercise will broaden NATO’s understanding through consultation and collaboration with industry, enabling a deeper understanding of Multi-Domain Operations. This exercise will also enhance data management, tailoring the tactical, operational, and strategic pictures in accordance with the Alliance’s broader Digital Transformation objectives.

A notable highlight of this year’s Dynamic Messenger exercise is its efforts to experiment with Emerging Disruptive Technologies to address the threat to critical undersea infrastructure. As noted at the Vilnius Summit, while the “protection of Critical Undersea Infrastructures on Allies’ territory remains a national responsibility… NATO stands ready to support Allies if and when requested.” The support provided by Allied Command Transformation will contribute to enhancing NATO’s Maritime Common Operating Picture at the tactical and operational levels by providing indications and warnings of potential threats, as well as the ability to vector NATO assets to investigate and prosecute threats, respectively.

The Centre for Maritime Research Experimentation is also participating in scenarios that demonstrate interoperability of Command, Control, Communications and Computers (C4) for unmanned systems. These experiments test system of systems autonomy between the Centre and partner autonomous systems, using the Collaborative Autonomy Tasking Layer, for mine countermeasure and critical underwater infrastructure protection missions.

Dynamic Messenger 2023 builds on the success of last year’s exercise, which demonstrated the importance of operational experimentation, offering a venue where collaboration between military, industry, and academia can be conducted in a real time setting.