News: Iron Thunder roars during NIE
By Sgt. Robert Larson
24th Press Camp Headquarters
FORT BLISS, Texas – Network Integration Exercise 12.2 is currently being conducted on White Sands Missile Range and 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division is one of the units assigned with evaluating the next level of the Army’s tactical network.
NIE assesses the tactical network’s potential in an environment designed to determine whether it will perform as needed and is interoperable with the Army’s existing systems. For field artillery soldiers, this bring the ability to communicate on the move beyond line-of-sight.
According to Capt. Shawn Williams, battle captain for 4-27 FA, the WIN-T network will allow better coordination between the tactical operations center and the line batteries when the call for fire missions comes in to his station.
The older system would require one of the line units to stay back to help relay information from the TOC to the batteries that would be firing, thus limiting the distance that the line batteries could move forward. The WIN-T network gives the field artillery soldier a greater, almost unlimited range.
“What this means is that we will be able to decentralize our guns away from our fire assistance centers at an unlimited distance and across a greater spectrum of mission capabilities,” said Williams, “The WIN-T network will extend our digital capabilities far past line of sight.”
Once in the field, the new systems capabilities come under more intense evaluation and assessment. Integrated into vehicles, the system works through a series of small satellite dishes and radios to communicate. This gives the field artillery unit’s the other half of the networks proposed advantages, on-the-move fires capability.
Maj. Victor Scharstein, operations officer for 4-27 FA, stated that the system allows him to talk over an Internet connection, in a way similar to a voice-over-internet-protocol phone would operate.
“I have this whether I am stationary or on the move, which helps keep our fires synchronized across the brigade,” said Scharstein.
This capability allowed Scharstein to conduct a fire mission rehearsal at a distance of over a 35-kilometer radius, linking 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored division’s fire control team with his battalion’s fire team and himself.
Movement and control continues downward to the line units, eventually ending up in the hands of the line battery leaders and soldiers. Battery commanders receive fire mission, movement orders and other tactical information through the network, giving them the ability to support other mission elements from a far greater distance.
“The WIN-T allows us to get firing data from units that don’t have line of sight to us, somewhere they wouldn’t normally be able to get support from us before, now they can get that support, that indirect fire they need,” said Capt. Joshua Grubbs, commanding officer of Alpha Battery, 4-27 FA.
Grubbs battery provided fire support for other units in the brigade using information passed through the new digital network, giving smoke cover for the continuation of the brigade’s attack.
Select soldiers in the brigade were given a two-week training block to get them up to speed with the new system. System operations, limited troubleshooting techniques and system capabilities were some of the areas covered.
“The system gives us different, additional methods beyond our traditional radios to call for fires,” said Spc. Matthew Snyder, a fire control specialist with Alpha Battery, “Anybody can call us through the phone and request fire support.”
Snyder said that the system does have value down range by giving additional ways for units to communicate on the battlefield beyond those already in place.
“It gives us a back-up to the more traditional communication systems,” said Snyder.
An integrated tactical network is beneficial to the Army as a whole. Being able to shoot, move and communicate is essential to our modern fighting force. With the WIN-T network’s newest increment in place, improvements in tactical communication can be heard all over the battlefield. This includes those seen and heard by 4-27’s ‘Iron Thunder’ soldiers.
Date Posted:05.16.2012 12:54
Location:EL PASO, TX, US
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