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Bold Quest – an opportunity for the Finnish Army to develop its command system

Army 14.5.2019 18.05
News item

Bold Quest 19.1, which will be hosted by Finland, will provide the Finnish Army with an excellent opportunity to develop its own command system. For the first time, the Finnish Army will carry out extensive tests with its command system in a multinational environment to determine its suitability for forming and sharing the battlefield situation picture supporting decision-making.

All required levels of command, military branches and defence branches will take part in the event. Such an environment cannot be created in conventional exercises carried out in Finland. The lessons learned during the testing will be used in the development of the command system after the event.

The Finnish Army has already incorporated improvements into its M18 command system on the basis of previous Bold Quest events and other international exercises. In Bold Quest 19.1, the Finnish Army will be testing the international interoperability of the M18 system because this is the only way to extensively assess the interoperability and the information flow between different systems.

A system used in an international environment must primarily be suited for national defence. Based on this principle, we have incorporated international development and testing issues into the planning and development of our national command system, explains Major Ismo Ikonen from the C5 Division of the Army Command Finland.

The systems developed in Western countries in different periods are more or less similar. The differences mainly pertain to the technical implementation of the systems. International interoperability requirements are a key consideration in the development of the command systems. This also makes economic sense, Ikonen adds.

Costs can be saved by purchasing command system equipment from partner countries using identical components. Finland is a participant in many development programmes under way, in which the aim is to enhance interoperability between systems. Interoperability is based on such matters as joint standard types, which include the file and wave formats of the technical equipment and applications.

Interoperable command systems allow military cooperation in such situations as crisis management operations, other areas of international cooperation and in exercises, Ikonen explains.

Testing in exercises at Sodankylä and Rovajärvi

The interoperability of the systems will be tested in the Finnish Army exercises at Sodankylä and Rovajärvi on the basis of the information and services produced by the national command systems of other countries.

For example, international partners use their own command systems to produce situation and location information, which is then made available to other nationalities, says Ikonen, describing the process.

The services to be tested include the forming of a common situation picture, voice services, sharing of files and map services, Ikonen adds.

Assessment is carried out by interviewing users, by making observations and by technical measurements.

The establishment of the situation picture is assessed by, for example, analysing the correctness and real-time nature of the operating practices and the relaying of the location information of your own troops. Quality, operational limitations and such features as the notepad are the voice service functions tested in the exercises, Ikonen explains.

The lessons learned in Bold Quest 19.1 will be used in the development of the Finnish Army’s command system and improvement of the command system interoperability immediately after the event.

We will examine the results to determine the parts of our own system that still require fine tuning. After making these improvements, we can start using the tested system at national level. However, this will be preceded by an extensive national integration and field-testing phase, Ikonen adds.

Correct situation picture enhances effectiveness and helps to improve safety

The purpose of the collection, compilation, analysis and sharing of situation information is to ensure that all those requiring the information have a correct and thoroughly analysed picture of the events in the battlespace. This means that the situation picture also provides the basis for the decision-making and command activities of the battlefield commanders and the planning of the troop deployment. In addition to the command practices, the command system also includes technical systems, such as communications and the equipment and applications using them.

The command system is like the glue used for joining the individual pieces together. It allows different military branches and capabilities to operate: without a smoothly functioning command system, infantry would not have any artillery support or air defence cover, says Ikonen, describing the role of the command system.

The situation picture is collected from a variety of different sources and observations and reports produced using different types of equipment.

For example, nowadays the location information is obtained automatically through the command system. The sharing of the situation picture has also been automated: all users have simultaneous access to an identical situation picture, which allows battlefield commanders to make quick decisions. For example, indirect fire can be aimed effectively at the right target: the fire is accurate and at the same time, your own troops are not left under the fire, Ikonen explains.

In the Bold Quest 19.1 event, the Finnish Defence Forces will be using a multinational command system test network, which has been used in Finland for many years. Only the troops taking part in the event can access the test network and the network will only be used for testing and assessing the systems.

Situation picture is information on the situation of one’s own troops and the partner troops, the stage of completion of their mission and the other events taking place in the operating environment. The situation picture is based on the information available at the time. The situation picture also shows the situation of individual military branches.

The situation picture is relayed with the help of a command system, which also provide the basis for the command of capabilities, such as troops and weapons systems.

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