By CW4 Mark Chamberlin and CDR Matthew Kiefer
Though the past year’s global pandemic has greatly limited domestic and international travel, as well as cancelled or postponed many meetings, conferences, training classes, and other in-person events throughout the Department of Defense community, the Joint Combat Assessment Team (JCAT) has been able to rise to the occasion and adjust daily operations to ensure that the team remained actively involved in current combat damage assessments, JCAT qualification training, Threat Weapon Effects (TWE) training, and the Susceptibility Reduction Work Group (SRWG).
Over the last year, JCAT continued its primary mission of collecting data and assessing threat information regarding combat damage events. One outlet to share information with the DoD community, as well as raise awareness of the JCAT team and mission, is the SRWG. This year, the SRWG agenda has expanded to include focus on testing and validating available models, radar countermeasures, and aircraft maneuvers. This is a multi-year project intended to validate existing models, reduce cost and schedule, and improve warfighting capabilities in the electronic warfare environment. This fiscal year, we are laying the foundation to incorporate into live tests in subsequent years.
Joint and individual Service doctrine is currently being shaped to meet the operational needs of the multi-domain battlespace. JCAT-Navy continues efforts to defining a Joint Universal Task to collect, assess, and archive combat damage. JCAT-Navy has defined a task for JCAT operations and is awaiting an opportunity to go before an acceptance board. Concurrent to this action, JCAT-Army is working with the Directorate of Training and Doctrine to revise ATP 3-04.13, TC 3-04.2, TC 3-04.9, and TC 3-04.11 to incorporate the collection of combat battle damage in the future of Army doctrine.
Due to ongoing DoD travel restrictions, JCAT Phase I and Phase II training will be combined in a single event, which is tentatively scheduled for March 2021. The training event will be hosted by the Kinetic Experimentation Branch, located at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD. Presently, JCAT is designing a new curriculum—which flexibly integrates its new temporary location and compressed timeline—to equip newly appointed JCAT assessors with the tools and experience to flawlessly leverage in future missions.
This year’s TWE training is still scheduled for August 2021 (tentatively); however, to comply with local policies, the event has been moved to the Enlisted Hall at Eglin Air Force Base, rather than Hurlburt field, where the event has historically been conducted.
JCAT-Army continues improvements to the Aviation Combat Forensics Lab (ACFL) both in training articles and routine maintenance. The ACFL training article inventory will be expanded to incorporate a CH-47—with undisclosed threat damage—to be used for this year’s TWE live fire event (see Figure 1). Furthermore, JCAT-Army was able to resource Fort Rucker flight school students assigned to B Company, 1-145th, to conduct maintenance and repairs to the ACFL privacy fence, which was heavily damaged during the record-breaking 2020 hurricane season. This maintenance (shown in Figure 2) provided a critical facelift to the AFCL that is commensurate with the training aids available within.
JCAT-Navy has also worked to take delivery of two SH-60 helicopters, which will be used as JCAT assessor training aids and subjects for live fire testing. In fact, the officers of In Service Engineering and Logistics Detachment B at China Lake, CA, have already organized a shot on one of them. LT Haman was successful in leading the live fire test of an SH-60 with a new threat weapon system. The article is the first T/M/S to be added to the JCAT training facility at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in China Lake and will be used to train future JCAT assessors.
Finally, the Aviation Survivability Development and Tactics Team, JCAT-Army, would like to hail CW5 Scottie Moore as the Team Chief. CW5 Moore is joining the JCAT community from Fort Campbell, KY, where he was the Division Aviation Mission Survivability Officer. He is a Master Army Aviator qualified in the UH-1, AH-1, AH-64, CH-47 (D, F, and G models), AH-6, and Mi-17, with more than 4,000 hours of flying time.