every U.S. military service and 10 other nations are wrapping up the
final days of a coalition capability demonstration designed to increase
combat effectiveness and interoperability while minimizing the risk of
Bold Quest 13-1, which officially kicked off June 10 and concludes
tomorrow, includes more than 1,300 participants from the Army, Navy, Air
Force and Marine Corps, as well as Germany, France, Italy and Norway,
John Miller, joint operational manager for the exercise, told reporters
today. In addition, Denmark, Finland, Japan, Sweden, Turkey and the
United Kingdom have sent observers.
About half of the participants are at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry
Point, N.C., Miller explained during a teleconference from the exercise
hub. Another roughly 700 service members are participating from bases
along the U.S. East Coast and as far west as Tinker Air Force Base,
Bold Quest 13-1 is the 11th in the Bold Quest series, created in 2003 to
provide realistic conditions for the services and international partners
to test their combat identification systems and the techniques and
procedures they use to engage them, Miller explained.
“That is really the essence of the whole effort: to create this complex
operational environment that requires more than any one individual
[entity] could do on their own,” he said.
rolls across the Joint Base Charleston flightline as the sun rises above
a C-17 Globemaster III June 4, 2013, at JB Charleston, S.C. The C-17 is
capable of rapid strategic delivery of troops and all types of cargo to
main operating bases or directly to forward bases in the deployment area
During 10 days of exercises and data collection, participants are
putting to the test not only their different technologies, but also
their tactics, techniques and procedures to ensure they’re
The premise, Miller explained, is that coalition members that operate
together need to develop and test their capabilities together before
they employ them in combat.
“Our assumption is that the user is going to use these systems in a
coalition fight, which involves the U.S. services and [coalition]
nations,” he said, “so demonstrating that interoperability is key.”
During Bold Quest, every service and participating nation brings its own
technologies and objectives to the exercise. Bold Quest 13-1, for
example, represents the first time the United States is using the
demonstration to assess how new “identification friend or foe,” or IFF,
systems developed independently by the services work in a joint and
Historically, Bold Quest has focused on ground-to-ground and
air-to-ground initiatives, Miller said.
“The initiative brought to Bold Quest reflected current operations,” he
said, particularly real-world requirements in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Bold Quest 13-1 represents a new step in the exercise’s 10-year
evolution. Focused for the first time on the air-to-air and
surface-to-air combat domains, it is helping to address gaps that could
impact future operations, Miller said.
Eighteen months in the planning, Bold Quest 13-1 is the most ambitious
every conducted. “There has been no event in our series history more
complex than this one,” Miller said.
That’s largely because the entire exercise is live. With no virtual or
simulation play, it is relying on ground assets, aircraft and, for the
first time, two Navy ships to gather and share combat identification
information. U.S Fleet Forces, recognizing the importance of the
takeaways, is contributing USS Jason Dunham, an Arleigh Burke-class
destroyer, and USS San Jacinto, a Ticonderoga-class Aegis cruiser, to
the exercise, Miller said.
After 10 days of intensive flights and data-collection efforts to
conclude tomorrow, evaluators will provided a detailed quantitative
The results could have an immediate impact on warfighters. For example,
a new combat identification server demonstrated during Bold Quest 11
proved so effective that it was deployed to Afghanistan within months of
the demonstration. The system collects and maintains the locations of
U.S. and coalition forces in a single server that aircrews can access as
they provide close-air support.
With the benefits of Bold Quest 13-1 yet to be fully determined, Miller
said, the demonstration has had a tremendous training benefit for the
Quest is not designed as a training exercise,” he emphasized. “But
because we set the conditions to be as operationally representative as
we can, there is a natural opportunity [for participants] to actually
train to do the things they would normally do in their warfighting
mission.” It’s an opportunity, he noted, that many have not had in some
time because of pressing operational demands and, more recently,
The pace of Bold Quest demonstrations is picking up, with the next one
slated for September at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center in
Indiana. Two more demonstrations are scheduled for the early months of
fiscal year 2014.
Miller said enthusiasm for the exercise, particularly during a period of
tough budget choices, reflects the effectiveness of Bold Quest in
proving out technologies that will directly warfighting operations.
“This is about as good as it gets when you have participants here,
working together as well as they are, committed to doing what they are
doing and overcoming all the challenges,” he said.