Defense

August 11, 2014

101st Airborne conducts air assault training with new communications gear

Tags:
Nancy Jones-Bonbrest
Fort Polk, La.

The 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), conducted the Army’s first large scale joint force entry air assault in more than 11 years during the unit’s Joint Readiness Training Center rotation at Fort Polk, La.

Conducting the Army’s first large-scale joint force entry air assault in more than 11 years, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), ascended into the night to confront a hostile, mobile threat.

Equipped with handheld smartphone-like devices, advanced radios, chat messaging, mission command software and other communications gear connected to the Army’s tactical network, the brigade executed the assault mission as just one part of its training at the Joint Readiness Training Center, known as JRTC. In less than 28 hours, the unit quickly shifted focus to an advise-and-assist exercise, in preparation for the brigade’s upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.

The flexibility to switch between two unique mission scenarios is a critical part of the Army’s transition into a leaner, more agile and expeditionary force. Such versatility is also an essential element of the Army’s new suite of communications gear, known as Capability Set 13, or CS 13.

“This is probably the most complex combat training rotation I have seen in my 23 years in the Army,” said Col. J. B. Vowell, commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, also known as 3/101. “The first part was going back to our core competencies of unified land operations and decisive action training. Then we conducted mission rehearsal for our real deployment mission. There are multiple communications tools that we use depending on which phase of the operation we’re in.”

Designed as a “tool kit” for commanders to take what capabilities they need to match their mission, CS 13 combines data radios, mission command capabilities and handheld devices networked across waveforms and mobile satellite communications systems to transmit voice, data and video for enhanced situational awareness.

“There’s an art to command and control – to using CS 13 – of when to use it and when to command face-to-face,” Vowell said. “We’re really fleshing that out here. We’re learning how to use it in an expeditionary manner.”

When the 3/101 “Rakkasans” deploy to Afghanistan to execute their mission, CS 13 capabilities will provide improved situational awareness, mission command applications and data radios to help address the challenges of fewer U.S. Soldiers and more mobile, dispersed operations.

A soldier from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), uses a Rifleman Radio to communicate during training at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, La. The Rifleman Radio and other elements of Capability Set 13 form a “tool kit” for commanders and Soldiers to communicate in support of versatile missions.

“For counterinsurgency missions I can see a lot of utility,” Vowell said. “When you deploy and go with a partner or host nation, you have the ability to take those resources with you. You can be expeditionary.”

For example, the Capability Set’s smartphone-like end user device, or EUD, took battle planning and execution to the next level, said Capt. Steven Kurvach, commander of C Company, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3/101.

“The EUD is what allowed us to control the fight on the ground,” Kurvach said. “Before, I would have to stop, pull out a map, overlay and stencil to plot the graphics. Now, with the EUD, I can type up a sit rep (situational report) or plot a front line trace with friendly positions with one hand, while I’m talking to my platoon over the radio with the other hand. It’s a more efficient tool in allowing me to push information and guidance to my platoons.”

Known as Nett Warrior, the EUD connects to the Rifleman Radio to send and receive information over the Army network.

“I can see exactly where my Soldiers are on the battlefield, in real time, and that’s just not a capability we had before,” Kurvach said. “We were able to control the individual elements – both the platoon and squad – with precision because we had that real time picture of what the battlefield looks like.”

In the future, advancing these digital communications between air and ground would be a much-welcomed addition to visibility on the battlefield, Kurvach said.

Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), evacuate a simulated casualty during convoy live-fire training at the Joint Readiness Training Center, July 19, 2014, Fort Polk, La. The Soldiers from 3rd BCT, equipped with the Army’s newest tactical communications gear, conducted a series of training missions at JRTC, focusing on the skill sets that will be employed during the unit’s upcoming deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The 3/101 was able to tailor the network, using the upper tactical network known as Warfighter Information Network-Tactical for planning and reach-back, while relying on radios and EUDs for lower echelons to communicate during the air assault.

The 3/101 will be the Army’s fourth brigade to deploy with CS 13 to Afghanistan to work alongside Afghan forces as they assume responsibility for the security of their country.

JRTC, located at Fort Polk, provides realistic pre-deployment training with role players acting as the Afghan army, civilians, village leaders and insurgents. Throughout the training, Soldiers and commanders receive feedback, including after action reviews that rate their performance and tactics.

“We allow visiting units to test and validate their (communications) systems down to the Soldier level in a complex, challenging combat environment,” said Col. Carl Kelly, deputy commander, operations group, JRTC. “As technology is introduced into the force, we as a training center are trying to stay in front of the battle waves so we are able to capture what that unit is expected to do with that technology so we can capture best practices and get lessons learned out to the collective force.”

The 3/101 finished training at JRTC on Aug. 4. The unit will apply its JRTC experiences and feedback to its growing body of knowledge on the capability set, which its Soldiers received about nine months ago.

“We’ve touched CS 13 more than other brigades (who were called to deploy faster),” said Maj. Justin Zeverbergen, signal officer with 3/101. “With reflection on JRTC, we now have a way forward of what we need to do for training.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines April 24, 2015

News: More than $1 billion in U.S. emergency reconstruction aid goes missing in Afghanistan - A total of $1.3 billion that the Pentagon shipped to its force commanders in Afghanistan between 2004 and 2014 for the most critical reconstruction projects can’t be accounted for by the Defense Department, 60 percent of all such spending under an...
 
 

News Briefs April 24, 2015

German defense minister: widely used rifle has no future A widely used assault rifle has “no future” with the German military in its current form, Germany’s defense minister said April 22, escalating a dispute over the weapon’s alleged shortcomings. Ursula von der Leyen said last month that a study showed the G36 rifle has a...
 
 
Army photograph

Composites key to tougher, lighter armaments

Army photograph XM-360 test firing at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., in 2007, is shown. The Army is on the cusp of revolutionizing materials that go into armament construction, making for stronger, lighter and more durable weapo...
 

 

Northrop Grumman signs long-term agreement with Raytheon

Northrop Grumman has entered a long-term agreement with Raytheon to supply its LN-200 Inertial Measurement Unit for Raytheon optical targeting systems. The long-term agreement with Raytheon’s Space and Airborne Systems business extends through 2018. The LN-200 provides camera stabilization on optical targeting systems that conduct long-range surveillance and target acquisition for various...
 
 

NTTR supports first F-35B integration into USMC’s weapons school exercise

The Nevada Test and Training Range was part of history April 21, when four U.S. Marine Corps-assigned F-35B Lightning IIs participated in its first Marine Corps’ Final Exercise of the Weapons and Tactics Instructor course on the NTTR’s ranges. The Final Exercise, or FINEX, is the capstone event to the U.S. Marine Corps Marine Aviation...
 
 
AAR-Textron

AAR awarded new contract from Bell Helicopter Textron to support T64 engines

AAR announced April 22 that Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. awarded its Defense Systems & Logistics business unit a contract providing warehouse and logistics services in support of upgrading T64 engines for the Bell V-280 Val...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>