AMC debuts first large-scale virtual command center during MG21

Air Mobility Command premiered a proof-of-concept for a next-generation all-domain command and control platform during exercise Mobility Guardian 2021, May 25.

As the Air Force’s largest and longest exercise in rapid global mobility, Mobility Guardian served as the proving ground for AMC’s first large-scale integration of an Advanced Battle Management System, ensuring decision superiority with speed, agility and resilience and advancing warfighting capabilities in support of globally-integrated operations. AMC provides pivotal support to the joint force by swiftly deploying combat-credible military forces around the globe, and the biennial exercise tested AMC’s ability to execute its mission in the face of future threats posed by sophisticated adversaries, such as China and Russia.

“Mobility Guardian is about developing Airmen and advancing warfighting capabilities by pushing boundaries and experimenting with new concepts to ensure mobility forces are ready to project the joint force and ensure strategic deterrence,” said Brig. Gen. Charles Bolton, Headquarters AMC deputy director of operations, strategic deterrence and nuclear integration. “AMC leverages opportunities like Mobility Guardian to ensure our Total Force is ready to compete with, deter or defeat any adversary, not just in the current environment, but also in the future fight.”

In light of potential training gaps caused by COVID-19 restrictions, Headquarters Air Force directed the Security Forces Enterprise to conduct a Capabilities Based Assessment in May of 2020 – a first for the then 74-year-old SF community. After completing the assessment in October of 2020, AMC’s SF division sought opportunities to advance warfighting capabilities and develop Airmen, resulting in a 10-month initiative to improve training for SF personnel.

“The Security Forces Enterprise Plan is designed to focus on the strategic goals that are essential in making us more lethal and more ready, by prioritizing those things that are essential to our continued success,” said Brig. Gen. Roy W. Collins, Headquarters U.S. Air Force director of security forces and deputy chief of staff for logistics, engineering and force protection. “In order to remain elite Defenders, we will make changes that seek to build upon our culture, proficiency, modernization and standardization that ensure our Defenders are organized, trained and equipped to detect, deter and defeat any threat.”

To address a gap in weapons proficiency training, AMC SF staff gained $1.7M in funding for an AFWERX Small Business Innovation Research Phase contract to implement a virtual reality training system called Street Smarts VR. SSVR leverages VR technology to train SF Airmen on the judicious use of force in a variety of scenarios, in addition to providing courses on firing the M17 and M4 carbine. An M18 course will be added in the near future, and the repertoire of VR training scenarios is ever-expanding.

Looking ahead, AMC’s SF division is partnering with Air Combat Command and Air Force Office of Special Investigations Headquarters to pursue a $1.7M Tactical Funds Increase, which would expand the VR training to include Counter Small-UAS and criminal indexing modules. With the proliferation of drones, VR training would prepare SF Airmen to counter a growing threat to base security. Criminal indexing involves the arrest and documentation process – a critical skill for SF personnel that contributes information to a broader criminal database. As such, criminal indexing is key to preventing future crimes, and VR training can enhance this perishable skill, which requires consistent practice.

“We have embraced the CSAF’s action orders related to Accelerate Change or Lose and have literally led the charge to get after some gaps identified … to include a training gap for SF, related to weapons proficiency training,” said Marc Huth, AMC Headquarters Integrated Defense Program Manager and Security Forces Operations action officer.

Established in 2017 by the secretary of the Air Force and reporting to the vice chief of staff of the Air Force, AFWERX is a catalyst for agile Air Force engagement across industry, academia and non-traditional contributors to create transformative opportunities and foster an Air Force culture of innovation. In concert with Air Force innovation programs, AMC SF spearheaded a warfighting concept called Phoenix Oracle: Xiphos, which equips Ravens – specially trained SF Airmen – with mobile cameras. AMC SF also partnered with private firms Immersive Wisdom, Inc., and Digital Force Technologies to inform and accelerate data-driven decision-making through real-time, in-air and on-ground sensor feeds. The Raven as Integrated Sensor, or RaIS, weapon system hacks the tyranny of time and distance by providing real-time, geo-located mission intel to distributed decision-makers interacting via an immersive, 4D virtual command center. On March 22, AMC SF demonstrated the RaIS capability to AMC leadership in a trial run.

AMC SF’s collaboration with other AMC functions, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, ACC, AFWERX, Air Force Warfighting Integration Capability, WEdge, 375th Conjure Lab innovation teams and private industry culminated in the ABMS demonstration at Mobility Guardian 2021. Simulating outside the continental United States agile combat employment mission scenarios, SF’s Contingency Response personnel utilized Digital Force Technologies’ scalable force protection sensor package – mobile cameras providing video feeds to an omniscient virtual command and control center – to rapidly detect and neutralize simulated opposing forces.

The ABMS connected data feeds from a C-17 Globemaster III in the air and sensors from battlefield operators on the ground at Alpena CRTC to decision-makers at Scott AFB, who conducted operations from a 4D virtual C2 center with shared maps, synchronized visual inputs and real-time data feeds. Cloud computing, open systems design, wireless data links and Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning algorithms enabled Mobility Airmen to react to tactical scenarios in seconds, as opposed to minutes, drastically shortening the Observe-Orient-Decide-Act Loop, or OODA Loop, during decision-making. Furthermore, the virtual command center was accessible from anywhere on the planet, allowing geographically-distributed users to communicate with each other and access remote imagery and data feeds in a shared virtual space.

In pursuit of the DoD’s vision of the ABMS concept, Immersive Wisdom, Inc., developed the immersive collaborative space by incorporating VR, Mixed Reality, Augmented Reality, AI and ML. Utilizing an open digital architecture, the ABMS integrates multiple platforms securely and synchronizes communication between distanced warfighters and commanders, delivering battlespace situational awareness, distributed mission planning and execution, high-fidelity 4D geospatial information, AI-driven probabilistic analysis and intel, real-time data feeds, AI early warning and threat detection and full-spectrum targeting and kinetic effects – all of which empower commanders to make decisions at the speed of relevance.

Mobile sensor packs provided the strategic advantage of early warning and airfield threat detection, and the virtual nature of the C2 node enabled distanced decision-makers at AMC to coordinate missions in real-time via touch-screen interfaces on tablets and VR headsets, resulting in a tactical common operating picture for military commanders operating remotely.

“MG21 embodies how we are accelerating change in AMC,” said Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, AMC commander. “AMC must simultaneously prepare for tomorrow’s fight while maintaining success in today’s operations. AMC’s priorities are aligned with those of the Air Force, U.S. Transportation Command and the joint force, ensuring AMC is agile, aligned and capable of executing national objectives across each of AMC’s missions.”

Leveraging American innovation, AMC is setting the pace for how the joint force fights the future wars. The integrated nature of the ABMS platform enhances threat awareness, and the game-changing technology provides decision-makers with battlespace situational awareness of every warfighting domain – be it land, sea, air, space or cyberspace – enabling real-time information and data sharing among all military service branches. ABMS provides the unique advantage of all-domain situational awareness, and its scalable architecture can transform not only how AMC operates but how the entire U.S. military conducts warfare.

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