The dunes of White Sands Missile Range are shaking with the sound of jet engines and artillery this week as the range hosts Bold Quest 14.2.
Bold Quest, is a US Joint Staff sponsored event focused on developing, demonstrating and analyzing coalition operations. The goal of the operation on WSMR is to improve the ability for coalition forces to work better together, including countries like Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, and other allied nations. “We are excited to be a host to the Bold Quest forces because this is a great test of interoperability between the US and our Allied coalition partners,” said Maj. Gen Gwen Bingham, commander of White Sands Missile Range.
In addition to the active participants, Bold Quest is also host to a number of observers from nations who were not able to directly participate, but wanted to gain information for future operations and exercises they might take part in. Bold Quest is a regularly held event expected to be held twice a year in the future, though the locations change regularly.
As a large scale joint operation, Bold Quest’s focus while at WSMR will be: sharing information, like the tracking of friendly forces, ground-to-air communications and digitally aided close air support, integrated air and missile defense, and joint fires; the ability for different nations to provide artillery and close air support to each other. To run these operations Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines are working directly with their multinational partners to conduct a series of missions, both live-fire and simulated, to gain experience working as a team, and test new technologies they may be able to use in the future.
WSMR works well as a location for activities like Bold Quest due to its size and airspace. “We can replicate and simulate almost any environment that a Solider, Airman, Marine, Coastguardsman, and our allied forces could find (themselves) in,” Bingham said. WSMR has a long history of testing airborne systems, both missiles and aircraft, giving the Bold Quest mission elements the ability to conduct operations like live-fires and bombing missions as they test and train on those capabilities.
In addition to activities on WSMR, many components of Bold Quest are also reaching out to WSMR’s partners on Holloman Air Force Base, and Fort Bliss. Furthermore distributed collaboration is also being used to leverage other locations and facilities, both real and virtual. This distributed method allows units as far away as Indiana or Florida to conduct missions and digitally synchronize their actions with those on the ground at WSMR, as if they were operating in the same place. Additionally, entirely-digital forces can take part as well, using the same methods, allowing a larger and more complex operation to be simulated, while smaller real world units conduct operations on the ground.
Unlike previous Bold Quests, this one also is seeing integration with the Network Integration Evaluation event that has been taking place on WSMR and Fort Bliss twice a year. The NIE, which puts units in the field to test new technologies that leverage networked systems, is helping to create savings while improving the testing. By using both NIE forces to conduct mission support, and the opposing force to test new technologies, Bold Quest is conducting additional test and training missions at a lower combined cost.
At this time it has not been decided if Bold Quest will return in a future iteration.