Limited Objective Experiment

Over the last several years, STRATCOM J8 has conducted a series of experiments labeled Joint Concept for Cyberspace (JCC) Limited Objective Experiment (LOE). For LOE 3, the objective was to understand how the degree of cyberspace situational awareness integration affects the Joint Force Commander’s ability to make timely and informed decisions in command and control of forces in all domains. Additionally, the experiments provided an understanding of:

  • How kinetic weapons and systems are vulnerable to cyber
  • The effect of kinetic capabilities on cyber systems
  • The use of cyber modeling and simulation in mission operational planning to evaluate cyber as a peer option for the commander

The JCC environment hosted over 40 players across over four locations: Millersville MD, Stafford VA, RAF Waddington UK, and Suffolk VA

A key challenge of the JCC LOE 3 was to have a representative real-world cyber environment that the Blue Force teams would draw on and be exposed to without having to create a large scale physical network. The underlying challenge was to identify gaps and to provide a rich and functional cyber terrain in an accurate, realistic, timely, repeatable, and resource effective manner.  Modeling and Simulation (M&S) support for cyber and cyber kinetic exercises meets this criteria as it supports not just a simulated environment but a live virtual construct that let the players interact and become part of the M&S environment, and does so in a real-time manner. STRATCOM J8 selected SCALABLE and the EXata/Cyber product to support the M&S aspect of the experiment.

cyber cop

To create a global cyber infrastructure consisting of Blue, Red and Gray cyber terrain, EXata/Cyber was populated with over 330 network nodes and associated network traffic representing the Blue Force, Red Force and commercial network infrastructure in three different cyber configurations. The cyber terrain environment was injected with cyber events (DDOS, Jamming…) targeting key cyber terrain and simulating Network Management tools, live Network Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) and other kinetic and cyber Common Operating Pictures (COP) over the course of the experiment. EXata/Cyber was federated with VR-Forces, a commercial SAF that provided the kinetic and “geo-environmental” effects (pitch, roll, yaw and velocity) that impacted the effectiveness of wireless communication present in the experiment. EXata/Cyber was used to construct multiple scenarios with multiple variations to support the progressive needs of the experiment. These scenarios were geographically correct, extending from Hawaii to SE Asia, and contained 32 wireless subnets for Blue and  Red tactical and Gray, cellular, and UHF networks along with wired network infrastructure.

The LOE 3 was executed over a period of a week with dry runs each day for player orientation/training. EXata provided network simulation, background baseline noise and cyber effects during the runs, stimulating the Intrusion Detection Systems, a Netflow capture/fusion engine, and a prototyped cyber-kinetic fused COP and dedicated cyber COP. The resulting interaction between the players, cyber tools and EXata proved that M&S is an effective answer for supporting real-time analysis and integration with cyber situational awareness tools, and for conducting course-of-action analysis with other simulation tools that can validate cyber operations plans (OPLANS) for cyber and cyber kinetic exercises.