News: Eliminating the language barrier for artillerymen at Bold Quest 13.2
Story by John Crosby
EDINBURGH, Ind. - Artillery soldiers with the Indiana National Guard, French army, and Norwegian army, exchanged fire data in a joint fires proof of concept during Bold Quest 13.2, at Camp Atterbury, near Edinburgh, Ind., Sept. 14.
The purpose of the live-fire was to assist French and Norwegian forces to digitally transmit a call for fire between coalition systems.
Bold Quest 13.2 is a multifaceted international capability demonstration designed by the Joint Staff. More than 1,000 participants from 13 different countries participated in Bold Quest to assess digitally aided close air support technologies, along with tactics, techniques and procedures to help reduce friendly fire incidents, enhance combat effectiveness and increase situational awareness.
“We’re making history here. It’s the first time the French army called for fire and received support from American artillery on these systems,” said Spc. Jared Shand, Indianapolis, artilleryman in Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 150th Field Artillery Regiment, headquartered in Rockville, Ind.
The 2-150 FA provided 155mm howitzer support to the international capabilities demonstration.
“I consider myself really lucky to have the opportunity to work with all these different coalition forces. We’ve gotten the communications worked out. Our work in the lab has come to fruition here in the field,” Shand said.
Lab work between the U.S. and French forces included connecting both nation’s premier fire support command and control systems: the U.S. Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System and the French ATLAS, digitally linking the two systems to open a line of communication.
“The French ATLAS system has the capability to talk to U.S. systems, but we are here for the first time to actually integrate and demonstrate that capability,” said Michael Shifflet of the Joint Staff. “As joint fire support systems become ever more complex and sophisticated, we need to maintain the digital interoperability of them. Today we have a live fire event here at Camp Atterbury to demonstrate the ability to digitally transmit a call for fire between coalition systems and U.S. systems successfully.”
A French team of forward observers relayed firing coordinates back to a French contingent embedded with the Indiana National Guard battery.
“We are installing equipment to establish a liaison between the French ATLAS artillery system, which is the equivalent to the American AFATDS, to interconnect and exchange fire missions,” said French army Artillery Officer Maj. Michelle Pipier, native of Lille, France. “So today, we will have French and Norwegian forward observers in the field who will call for fires.”
Upon receiving the calls for fires, approval was given for the firing mission by 2-150 FA firing direction center, and the artillerymen sent 155 mm rounds down range.
“It’s pretty impressive. I’ve really enjoyed this experience. There’s a whole lot of amazing equipment on the ground out here right now. It’s great to see that it’s all working together,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Sambrotta, Brazil, Ind., forward observer in Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2nd Squadron, 152nd Cavalry Regiment, headquartered in Columbus, Ind.
Sambrotta’s team were the lead forward observers assisting French and Norwegian joint terminal attack controllers to call for fire.
“We’re all working together; breaking down the language barriers with all of our terminology, making sure everything gets called in properly. It’s definitely one of the highlights of my military career,” Sambrotta said.