MISR, MINOTAUR and Training for the Maritime Kill Web


When I visited San Diego earlier this year, in my discussion with VADM Miller, he highlighted the importance of the coming of MISR to the fleet.

MISR officers are trained as ISR subject matter experts to operate at the fleet or CSG level and to work the sensor fusion for the integratable CVW. According to the Air Boss: “I think of MISR as additive, not lessening of TOPGUN, but instead akin to a new phase which builds upon our historical experience in the development of TOPGUN in the first place.”

In effect, these are “6th generation officers” in the sense of working the C2/ISR capabilities which enable an integrated and distributed fleet to have its maximum combat impact.

And in my discussions with Rear Admiral Peter Garvin, the head of the Maritime Patrol Enterprise, he highlighted the importance of MINOTAUR to the force as well.

According to Rear Admiral Garvin: “The Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance aviator of the future will be well versed in the synergy inherent in both manned and unmanned platforms.”

“The unblinking stare of a Triton enhances the Fleet Commander’s MDA and understanding of an adversary’s pattern-of-life by observing their movements in the optical and electromagnetic spectrum.”

“Moreover, Triton serves as a force multiplier and enabler for the P-8. Early in Triton program development, we embraced manned and unmanned teaming and saw it as a way to expand our reach and effectiveness in the maritime domain.”

“One key software capability which empowers integration is Minotaur.”

“The Minotaur Track Management and Mission Management system was developed in conjunction with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. Minotaur was designed to integrate sensors and data into a comprehensive picture which allows multiple aircraft and vessels to share networked information.”

“It is basically a data fusion engine and like many software capabilities these days, doesn’t physically have to be present on a platform to be of use.”

“These capabilities ride on a Minotaur web where, if you are on the right network, you can access data from whatever terminal you happen to be on.

Recently, I had the chance to talk with CDR Pete “Two Times” Salvaggio, Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center (NAWDC), Maritime ISR (MISR) Weapons School, Department Head (DH), MISR & EP-3E Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI).

The career of this officer spans the period prior to MISR, the creation of MISR and the maturation of the MISR and Minotaur initiatives, which are laying down the foundation for creating the 6th generation force alluded to earlier in the article.

What CDR Salvaggio described was a very creative and interactive process in which the Navy has been engaged with the other services and coalition partners in both reshaping and rethinking how the force operates and can operate going forward with the C2/ISR revolution underway.

He was trained as an EP-3 operator, and when he worked for then-Captain Garvin who at the time was CPRW-10, the goal was to cross link what EP-3s could do with the rest of the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force (MPRF), which at the time included P-3s, BAMS-D RQ-4s, and Tactical Operations Centers (TOCs), to prepare the grounds for the coming of the P-8/Triton dyad.

This initiative was combined with experiences in the land wars of Iraq and Afghanistan to lay the foundation for MISR.

What Two Times described was his experience in the Middle East working with the CENTAF Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) as part of the USMC’s 3rd MEF operations in RC-South West as the EP-3E Detachment Officer in Charge (OIC).

Lessons from those operations on how the Marines were dynamically integrating ISR feeds into the ground maneuver element set the initial foundation.

With an ISR officer on the ground responsible for shaping the knowledge base for informing ground maneuver, it was obvious to Two Times and his senior officers that the Navy needed just such an approach in the years to come.

We have argued that with regard to the Land Wars, the challenge was “to harvest the best and leave the rest,” and clearly learning from the successes of ISR integration into 3rd MEF’s operations, the Marines provided a lead into a major shift in the Navy which began to embrace the concept of deploying ISR integrators within the fleet to assist in shaping the knowledge base for the distributed maritime force.

MISR prides itself in being both platform and sensor agnostic, along with employing an effects-based tasking and tactics approach that allows for shaping the ISR domain knowledge which a task force or fleet needs to be fully combat effective.

What is most impressive is that CDR Salvaggio has been present at the creation and is a key part of shaping the way ahead in a time of significant change in what the fleet is being asked to do in both a joint and coalition operational environment.

And NAWDC clearly reflects and embodies this change.

Over the past six years, NAWDC has gone from traditional CSG integration, to embedding the surface and subsurface weapons schools, to evolving a new approach to working the platform training side of NAWDC to embrace the shift to the integratable air wing, to standing up two new weapons schools which are kill web oriented, not platform oriented.

The first school was highlighted in the interview with CDR Joseph “Smokin’ Joe” Fraser, head of the Information Warfare Directorate, which has been designated the executive agent for targeting for the United States Navy.

The second school is the MISR weapons school. And to be clear, these are not simply layering on top of platform training schools; they are part of the cross-training which goes on within NAWDC.

But not just NAWDC, for working with the USAF and the USMC, as well as with our closest coalition partners, is crucial for shaping a way ahead.

CDR Salvaggio underscored that one of his responsibilities at NAWDC is working the only ISR exercise conducted in the United States, one which includes those allies.

The exercise is called RESOLUTE HUNTER and is jointly sponsored by NAWDC and the USAF’s Air Combat Command. Notably, the Marines are becoming involved in RESOLUTE HUNTER as well. The trajectory for working the ISR/C2 enablement of the integrated distributed force is clearly evident.

Editors’ Note: This article was published by the Air National Guard on November 1, 2019 about the Resolute Hunter exercise.

High Rollers Fly with Navy during Resolute Hunter Exercise

By Senior Master Sgt. Paula Macomber, 152 Airlift Wing, Nov. 1, 2019

FALLON, Nev. – The 192nd Airlift Squadron participated in Exercise Resolute Hunter joint training at the Naval Air Station Fallon Range Training Complex Oct. 21-25. The Naval Air Station Fallon and Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center are the Navy’s premier Weapon Tactics Instructor schools.

“This range complex has some of the most advanced enemy threat emitters in the world,” said Maj. Kyle Carraher, a pilot with the 192nd Airlift Squadron out of Reno, “and the training is as realistic as you can get. We want to bolster our relationship with the entities in Fallon so we can train smarter and more effectively. This is an extraordinary opportunity to support their objectives while meeting our internal training requirements.”

The training complex encompasses NAS Fallon and nearby range training areas, Bureau of Land Management rights-of-way and 13,000 square miles of special use airspace.

This exercise enhances the joint cooperation among many entities, not limited to the Air National Guard and the Navy.

“The relationship with NAS Fallon really benefits everyone connected to these airplanes on base, Carraher said. “I say this because future operations rely on joint interoperability, and joint interoperability is only going to happen if we train together. The relationships we build result with the other branches of services increased ability to support the joint fight.

The 192nd logged 25.3 flying hours, accomplished 614 training events and more than 25 radar threat reactions and dropped four low-cost low altitude bundles. They also flew three mission commander/lead upgrade rides, two pilot-checkout-course upgrade flights and a one-time no-notice pilot mission check ride. They were also able to execute a C-130H and C-130J interfly with the California Air National Guard out of Channel Islands, California.

“Channel Islands is our sister unit in the modular airborne firefighting system mission due to their close proximity in response to wildland fires,” said Carraher. “We have a great working relationship with their unit, and C-130H and C-130J interfly is an invaluable skill to develop. The airframes share many similarities, but the intricacies of flying in formation are challenging.”

There were 4,500 people supporting the exercise with 12 different airframes.

“It really boils down to communication, Carraher said. “Simple things like ‘shorthand’ or ‘lingo’ between services does not always translate to clear communication, and this is exactly why we train together, so we can identify impediments to accomplishing the mission in training so we can execute the mission in the real world.

The featured photo comes from the home page of NAWDC as does the following graphic: