During last month’s Bold Alligator exercise, Marines used the Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) Tactical Cyber Range to emulate adversary communications hidden in a dense electronic spectrum, the Navy said on Dec. 15.

Referring to the electromagnetic spectrum as a battleground in the current digital world just like a piece of land in physical warfare, the Tactical Cyber Range consists of a mix of various training technologies sponsored by ONR.

Marines from the II Marine Expeditionary Force (IIMEF) used the combination of networking, communications, sensors, unmanned systems, and augmented reality technology during an urban combat scenario. These technologies allowed the Marines to coordinate cyber and electronic warfare actions in support of the larger military operation, the Navy said.

“Our goal for the Tactical Cyber Range is to extend cyberspace training to the radio frequency (RF) physical environment to better integrate information related capabilities with traditional fires to support mission objectives at the  tactical edge,” Maj. Christian Fitzpatrick, ONR tactical cyber special projects officer, said in a statement.

Navy and Marine Corps officials plan to use ONR’s Tactical Cyber Range to increase the capability of the Joint Informational Operations Range, which is currently used by combatant commanders in all of the services to test, plan, and assess information operations.

“The vision is to have all urban training ranges aboard all Marine Corps bases outfitted with the capability to support dynamic, full-spectrum training for Marines involved in signals intelligence and cyber operations,” Fitzpatrick said.

One of the technologies tested on the Tactical Cyber Range during Bold Alligator was a pair of signals intelligence (SIGINT)/Cyber augmented reality glasses. Marines working in SIGINT monitor, intercept, and interpret radar and radio signals. The glasses stream relevant data to Marines so they can conduct cyber operations while maintaining awareness of their surroundings on the battlefield and operate their weapon systems, ONR said.

The glasses are a collaboration between two ONR organizations: The Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism Department and TechSolutions.

“The Augmented Reality glasses allowed me to perform and prioritize multiple tasks while conducting our missions,” Sgt. Erik Matson, a cyberspace operator, said. “I can envision every Marine wearing this technology on the battlefield of the future.”

Bold Alligator is a joint, bi-annual exercise to demonstrate new capabilities and technologies for use in contested environments.

Navy and Marine Corps leaders have highlighted the need for improved cyber capabilities to achieve information dominance. Specifically, the Marine Corps Information Enterprise Strategy calls for the development of technologies to train cyber personnel in realistic operational environments.