News: 17th Field Artillery Brigade ADAM/BAE Cell attend the CENTCOM Theater Tactical Data Link Planning Conference
Written by Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Hennessey, edited by Capt. Ronald C. Garner
AL UDEID AIRBASE, Qatar - The 17th Field Artillery Brigade, Air Defense Airspace Management (ADAM) cell attended the U.S. Army Central Command Theater Tactical Data Link Planning Conference at Al Udeid Airbase, Qatar.
Those in attendance included U.S. Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, contractors and DOD civilians from across the globe. This conference brought a majority of the data link and airspace professionals together to discuss air track processing, data link architecture, air picture operational shortfalls, equipment requirements and possible future endeavors as the U.S. prepares to withdraw from Afghanistan.
The ADAM cell functions as the single point-of-contact for the brigade on all air-ground integration with other services’ air assets and airspace. The ADAM cell utilizes a combination of data link systems to provide an updated air picture of the airspace in real time.
Through the Situational Awareness Data Link (SADL), Link-16 data network system and radio capabilities, the ADAM cell can greatly extend the footprint of several airborne platforms. The SADL and Link-16 is a network of systems that can process and send real-time data to multiple air and ground based platforms to provide an accurate air picture to the users operating within that airspace.
Those airborne platforms include the F-16 Fighting Falcon, A-10 Thunderbolt, C-130 Hercules, KC-135 Stratotanker, HH-60 Pave Hawk and soon the AH-64 Apache helicopter.
The main theme of the planning conference revolved around those data link systems and the issues several units had with them while located within the CENTCOM Area of Operations.
Another topic during the conference was the rising cost of airborne platforms combined with the current military fiscal constraints and the impacts that it has had on operating those airborne command and control nodes. To compensate, the military is starting to enhance and utilize their ground-based platform, the ADAM cell.
During the conference, several other discussions included the possibility of collaborating with various Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members concerning the integration of all partnered Air Missile Defense systems and the ability for those nations to support the systems. In addition, the Navy provided information on their Ballistic Missile Defense systems from the Maritime perspective and the impact those systems can have on operations within an area of operation.
The U.S. Air Force’s Control Reporting Center briefed the attendees on how their operation center is moving to a new location and the impacts that move will have on daily airspace operations throughout the region. The CRC monitors the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS) network that is the primary link for all services to link into to provide a real-time air picture. The JTIDS network team also conducted an open forum to discuss and gather ideas on how they can improve the overall network design. With numerous nations purchasing the JTIDS terminals, the network will have to be refined in order to handle the growing number of users.
The conference frequently focused on SADL and the integration of Air Missile Defense weapon systems. Through the conference and by having the subject matter experts available, the symposium created several breakthroughs in the operability and integration of both systems. Integrating AMD with airspace users is a daunting task for network architects. With multiple systems and software versions operating within an area, it is imperative to keep the airspace operators updated with timely and accurate information in order to help foster a safe environment for all airspace users within that region.
Soldiers from the 17th FA Brigade ADAM cell, had the opportunity to meet with Chief Warrant Officer Andy Benjamin, 17th FA Brigade liaison officer, assigned to the U.S. Air Force Central Combined Air and Space Operations Center (CAOC). They took the opportunity to conduct a familiarization tour of the CAOC and the Army’s Battlefield Coordination Detachment (BCD) Center.
The CAOC is the senior command post for the Air Force within the CENTCOM area of operations, responsible for the command and control of all air and space operations within the region. The BCD serves as the Army senior liaison element to the Air Force. The BCD facilitates the synchronization of all Army air operations, ground operations and air-ground integration operations and is the critical link for air-ground integrations in order to de-conflict all Army and Air Force assets within a region.
The primary topic of discussion between the 17th FA Brigade ADAM cell, CAOC and BCD was airspace and airspace clearance procedures. The familiarization tour provided the Air Force and the 17th FA Brigade ADAM cell with a better understanding of how to integrate the 17th FA Brigade’s field artillery assets within the GCC region in order to avoid fratricide during deliberate and dynamic fire missions.
The Data Link Planning Conference was a major success for everyone involved. The 17th FA Brigade ADAM cell offered valuable information and made multiple recommendations to the CENTCOM Joint Interface Control Cell and sister services during the symposium. The discussions that did take place within the planning conference were incredibly insightful.
Through this conference, the ADAM cell has obtained a more comprehensive understanding of how the brigade fits into the overall picture and how to best utilize and integrate the brigade’s artillery weapon systems into the fight to enhance mission successfulness.