Exercise CID Borealis 2002

By LT Chris Keogh, 104 Sig Sqn, 1CSR

104 Sig Sqn, 1CSR Exercise Photo - Click for Large View

During the period 09 – 22 June 2002, around 45 RASigs personnel deployed to Kingston, Canada, for what was known as Coalition Interoperability Demonstration ‘BOREALIS’ 2002 (CID BOREALIS 02). The deployment to Canada, consisting mainly of Signalers from the 1st Brigade’s 1st Command Support Regiment, was to work with four other nations in testing the interoperability of communications equipment. The nations of the ABCA Program (America, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) tested their tactical level communications and computer network interoperability in the test-bed environment of the McNaughton Barracks parade square.

The deployment of Australian personnel to CID BOREALIS 02 was a culmination of two years planning by the Land Warfare Development Centre (LWDC), the Land Headquarters (LHQ) and the 1st Command Support Regiment (1 CSR).

Over 450 ABCA service personnel consisting of Signalers, Engineers and communications specialists were involved in the interoperability demonstration. CID BOREALIS 02 was the first activity of communication and information systems interoperability testing to happen amongst the ABCA nations.

The Flags on Ex Borealis 2002

ABCA is considered an important program as it originated from allied cooperation during WWII. The ABCA standardisation program is designed to achieve the highest possible degree of interoperability amongst the armies of the participating nations. The requirement to be able to fight together in a coalition formation drives the requirement to ensure combat, communication and logistics systems are fully interoperable. This is achieved through standardisation of doctrine, procedures and equipment or through promulgation of national standards. The ABCA group consists of America, Britain, Canada and Australia as full members and New Zealand as an associate member.

The aim of CID BOREALIS 02 was to take a snapshot of the generic in-service Brigade level tactical Communications, Information Systems and Electronic Warfare (CISEW) capabilities of the ABCA Armies and test their interoperability in order to build combat capability for coalition operations. CID BOREALIS represents an important first step in determining not only where we are now in terms of interoperability, but also in outlining the required future development for interoperability.

Ex Borealis

Each nation brought along their current in-service battlefield CISEW technology to the exercise for testing with the other nations. In order to test all configurations of communication and gain maximum results, over 400 CISEW interoperability tests were conducted. The tests were divided amongst seven major workshops including:

  • Switching

  • Transmission (Trunking Communications)


  • HF

  • Topographic Information Systems

  • Local Area Networking (LAN) and Wide Area Networking (WAN)

  • Infomation Systems (IS)

  • Electonic Warfare (EW


ABCA Equipment - Australian (104 Sig Sqn) on Left

The testing started at 0700 hours and concluded at approximately 1700 hours daily. After the testing had been completed the contingent would prepare for following day’s test requirements. A Network Management Centre consisting of ABCA Officers and communications specialists controlled the testing. Each workshop was assigned test configurations for the day, and a workshop chairman would subsequently manage them. Each workshop had a pool of equipment managers from each nation working on their own equipment. Each nation was also required to provide data collectors and test result producers. Due to the highly technical nature of CID BOREALIS 02, there were a number of communication specialists and communication engineers from each nation present to assist in finding workable solutions, co-ordinating tests and processing test results.

104 Sig Sqn Soldier showing one of the other ABCA Girls his Rig  104 Sig Sqn Soldiers - checking the Equipment

“The testing had been well planned and had proceeded smoothly, however of considerable note was that the Australian soldiers’ confidence was considerably boosted on the discovery that our equipment and skills are commensurate with, and in some areas surpass, other nations,” said Lieutenant Colonel Robert Foot, the Australian Contingent Commander.

“The officers and soldiers from LHQ, 1 CSR, 1st Topographic Survey Squadron, the 7th Signals Regiment (Electronic Warfare) and Headquarters 3rd Brigade, along with members from Land Warfare Development Centre, Defence Science and Technology Organisation, Defence Signals Directorate and Land Engineering Agency are to be commended for their hard work and valuable contribution to the success of the activity.” 1 CSR, from Darwin’s 1st Brigade, had deployed 39 soldiers on the demonstration, the majority of which were from the sub-unit: the 104th Signals Squadron. 

1CSR Radio Op

The tests had varying degrees of success, ranging from ‘fully interoperable’, ‘interoperable with modifications’, ‘not interoperable’ and ‘not possible’. Although some tests were not completely successfully in a technical sense, they are considered a success due to the fact that the shortfalls have been highlighted and documented for each nation. The end result of the CID BOREALIS 02 will be the development of a valuable planning guide for commanders to use when planning future coalition operations and exercises. The guide will enhance the ‘Tactical Communications Coalition Handbook’, which is sponsored by the ABCA program and developed by LWDC. The data collected will be used to enhance standards and solutions and will be applied for future ABCA operations. The commitment by ABCA to develop interoperability is signified with the next CID to be held in the USA in 2004 and subsequently in Australia in 2006. In addition to the technical interoperability aspects, it was an excellent opportunity to enhance ABCA army relations. This was achieved with the soldiers working closely together to overcome problems in the workshops, and the conduct of several impromptu sporting matches amongst contingents.

The Aussie Brass at Work

Overall the testing was a success for the Australian contingent and for ABCA as a whole as the results will be used to enhance the ABCA program. This testing is considered extremely important for the ADF. To ensure the ADF can continue to contribute to coalition operations, there is a considerable requirement to conduct multi-national exercises in order to enhance interoperability. As the ADF is increasingly being deployed on coalition operations, experience gained from exercises such as CID BOREALIS 02 will be invaluable.