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Joint Warfare Center uses mediaconferencing to enhance war games.

The U.S. military, a recognized leader in developing and implementing cutting-edge technology, several decades ago began harnessing the power of computers to replicate war tactics and maneuvers that its forces employ on land and in the air, sea, and space.

The reasons are obvious: Using war-game simulation software and state-of-the-art computer hardware to train thousands of men and women in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps is often safer, quicker, cheaper, and more practical than deploying them to a field or sea exercise location.

The Joint Warfare Center, an organization that supports the Commander in Chief, Joint Task Forces, and unified and specified commands and services worldwide, has blended advanced videoconferencing technology with wargame simulation technology to increase interactive participation to a larger number of individuals engaged in these important training vehicles.

The added benefits to the military--and, thus, the U.S. taxpayer--are cost and productivity savings derived from eliminating large troop deployment.

In 1990, the Joint Warfare Center purchased six PC-based videoconferencing units and a multi-way switching unit (Digital Video Branch Exchange or DVBX) manufactured by VideoTelecom Corp. and sold by CAE Link. To meet the Joint Warfare Center's requirement for portability and durability, VideoTelecom and CAE Link custom-made rugged carrying cases for all of the units.

VideoTelecom, of Austin, Texas, builds systems unique in functionality, graphics, and electronic annotation (Pen Pal Graphics). These functions, in addition to audio and video capabilities, make up mediaconferencing.

CAE Link, based in Alexandria, Va., specializes in selling training equipment and services to the military.

"Videoconferencing works well in conjunction with wargame simulation because exercise participants can see and share data and information in real time, in color and without delay," says Lt. Col. Dennis Foggy, chief, Support Division of the Joint Warfare Center.

"The wargame simulation exercises we support are customized to fit the objectives as determined by the supported Commanders in Chief. When complemented with videoconferencing, as was the case recently with an exercise involving the Senior Service Colleges, technology is employed at its best," says Army Lt. Col. Herb Bruse, information management officer for the Joint Warfare Center.

The Senior Service Colleges include the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa.; the Air Force War College in Montgomery, Ala.; the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.; and the Navy War College in Newport, R.I.

Thus, these career officers are exposed to the latest in state-of-the-art technology.

Lt. Col. Foggy and Lt. Col. Bruse note the Central Command (CENTCOM) staff benefited from a computer-driven wargame exercise supplemented with videoconferencing systems provided by the Joint Warfare Center immediately prior to their deployment to Operation Desert Shield.

Called Internal Look '90, the exercise involved a myriad of high-level staff officers participating from locations scattered throughout the United States. Videoconferencing connected three of the major locations in Florida--Hurlburt Field, Duke Field, and MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa (25 and 350 miles, respectively, from Hurlburt Field).

The Joint Warfare Center also videotaped the interactive videoconference sessions.

"Using the videoconferencing systems, we, in essence, transported exercise staffs at these geographically dispersed locations and put them in the same room.

"For Internal Look '90, we initially planned to transmit at 768 kb/s, but we found the picture quality at 384 kb/s was more than adequate for our needs and saved us money," says Lt. Col. Bruse.

"We did this non-stop for 10 days without any serious obstacles."

Recently, the Joint Warfare Center mobilized two videoconferencing suites during the Joint Land Air Space and Sea (JLASS) exercise for the Senior Service Colleges.

This exercise lasted 12 days and the videoconferencing sessions ran flawlessly, according to Lt. Col. Bruse.

"Because of the on-base cable restrictions, we transmitted at 256 kb/s for the JLASS exercise with only a minimum sacrifice to video quality," says Lt. Col. Foggy.

"The systems enabled us to interactively display graphics, maps, and drawings; make instantaneous on-screen changes to those documents using the Pen Pal Graphics tablet; capture an image as a slide; share the data between the videoconferencing participants, and make videotape records of briefings and presentations.

"Videoconferencing proved to be a valuable tool that greatly enhanced the information exchange."
COPYRIGHT 1991 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Communications News
Date:Oct 1, 1991
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