Military’s community gear was examined for the primary time with a full brigade
FORT POLK, La. – A full brigade, marking a paradigm shift in how the Army procures, installs, and updates equipment, is testing upgraded radios, tactical cell phones, and network equipment for the first time this month in one of the service’s most operationally realistic environments.
The exercise is the result of three years of work to lay a foundation for a modernized network while taking into account more soldier feedback on communication devices and speeding up deployment.
Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team now have the Army’s most advanced network and communications equipment and are put through their paces during their rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk.
The Fort Irwin site and associated National Training Center provide a dedicated opposing force with bespoke scenarios based on a specific region of the world. Units fight over a two-week simulated campaign and face a range of attacks from kinetic to electronic.
The equipment is part of the Army’s Integrated Tactical Network (ITN). Specifically, soldiers tested devices as part of the network’s Capability Set ’21, a combination of radios, new waveforms and tactical cell phones that determine the location of troops, as well as network expansion devices and cross-domain technologies that enable communication with units and coalitions partners .
Soldiers praised the so-called individual soldier kit that was available to the team leaders. It contains a two-channel radio paired with a hardened cell phone that is attached to a soldier’s chest. Provides unparalleled situational awareness, including soldiers’ position on the battlefield; and enables seamless text chat and voice communication up and down.
As part of the army’s network modernization approach, it is planned to gradually deploy new equipment as part of capabilities every two years.
The army is deploying ITN equipment for the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Europe and plans to erect four infantry bridges with four more and one Stryker brigade in 2022 in the 2021 financial year. The lessons of the rotation at Fort Polk will take these other units into account. Fielding.
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“We will either look for feedback to determine what amounts are approximately correct or what adjustments we should make based on this large-scale force-on-force rotation that we have not had in the past,” said Maj. General Peter Gallagher , Director of the Army Network’s Cross-Functional Team, said the day before in a remote field in the middle of the huge training area where an important command post was located. “Our decisions were made without that type of feedback, so it will be important in the future.”
The event was not a specific exercise focused on the network, but part of that brigade’s training plan. The team now owns this network equipment, and their rotation at the Joint Training Readiness Center provided the Army’s testing and programming community an opportunity to learn some valuable lessons with the first full brigade exercise using the new network design.
Officials said the upgraded equipment will provide units with the speed and range necessary to defeat advanced opponents on a multi-domain battlefield.
“I think this is all about speed and range. You begin to look for what we want to do for critical operations and critical decisions. We want to look for sensor-to-shooters, ”said Brig. General Robert Collins, program director for Command, Control, Communications Tactics. “How do we do this fast, at speed, how do we extend range … I think this is basically a cornerstone and allows this airborne unit to extend over those ranges of speed and range.”
Officials and soldiers also stated that the essence of the modernized network is to provide commanders with multiple, resilient communication options. Until now, there were only limited alternatives when communication failed or was blocked. Now forces have multiple lines of communication with hardened waveforms.
“We’re trying to give them much … more resilient skills,” said Gallagher.