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NEWS | July 5, 2023

NSWCDD personnel assist with successful Northern Edge 2023 exercise

By Madeline Keenan, NSWCDD Corporate Communications

“Nothing goes as planned, even when you go in with a plan. Everything changes whether that’s on our end or above us,” said Mission Analysis Branch head Kendra Miller of the Warfare Analysis and Digital Modeling Department. “That is always a challenge.”

Miller had the opportunity to travel to Alaska for Northern Edge 2023 along with a team of scientists, engineers and computer analysts. The team, comprised of personnel both on-site and at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD), conducted operational assessments on selected experiments and prototypes, significantly increasing the exercise’s capability and outcome.

Northern Edge is a multi-domain biennial joint training exercise designed to properly assess, develop and test prototypes in an environment that allows data to be collected during realistic joint training opportunities. The field training exercise provides the environment to practice tactics, techniques and procedures and to explore new capabilities that could potentially benefit the warfighter, while also exposing the operators to those capabilities.

The team worked with the prototypes to understand how they would be assessed, what measures and objectives would be used and what data needed collecting in the field. The team also collaborated heavily with the reach-back team located at NSWCDD to provide in-stride analysis and deliverables during the two-week exercise.

Miller also served as the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (OUSD), Research and Engineering Mission Capabilities and Prototyping Experimentation Assessments lead. “I enjoy becoming more engaged with the capabilities that our warfighters are going to get,” Miller said. “Supporting the warfighter is very close to my heart.”

After months of intense and detailed planning, the exercise ran from May 8-19. The exercise was conducted at the Joint Pacific-Alaska Range Complex and in the Gulf of Alaska. Approximately a dozen NSWCDD employees assisted with the exercise at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks and also in Kodiak.

“For the capabilities, there is no other environment that we can test them in to see their impact to kill chains in an operational environment,” Miller said. “So we take the prototypes out to the exercise and assess how well they are going to do their job and potentially make recommendations for transition to the warfighter.”

During Northern Edge 2023, the United States Armed Forces were joined by military units from the United Kingdom and Australia. Thousands of individuals assisted in the massive exercise.

A major component included the Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve (RDER) program established by Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks. RDER facilitates rapid innovation and experimentation through multi-component coordination and cooperation.

NSWCDD provided the only reach-back lab for OUSD. The team monitored exercise operations through various live feeds, processed data collected during the exercise and provided in-stride analysis daily.

Miller said several improvements were made in communication with the reach-back lab compared to two years ago. She added that efforts are still being made to identify other areas of improvement and additional capabilities.

“The growth and maturity from our employees has been amazing,” Miller said. “They are jumping right in the middle of it all, asking questions and very quickly becoming the subject matter experts. That is probably the biggest thing for me – watching our team grow and prosper in this environment.”