The 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, or 2/2 SBCT, leveraged the Army’s latest mobile network equipment package to battle enemy forces during its Decisive Action Rotation at the National Training Center, or NTC, on Fort Irwin, California, which wrapped up last week.
As part of the package, the Army’s on-the-move tactical communications network, Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Increment 2, or WIN-T Inc 2, enabled commanders and staff to bring the power of their tactical operations center, or TOC, with them as they crossed the austere terrain of the Mohave Desert. The WIN-T-equipped Stryker vehicles provided the connectivity to access mission command applications anywhere on the battlefield and pass critical voice, video, chat, email and data across the formation.
“One of the things that we hold as our greatest strength as a Stryker brigade is our operational mobility, our ability to move very quickly and over long distances,” said Maj. Josh Powers, operations officer (S3) for the 2/2 SBCT. “Previously, commanders at brigade, battalion, all the way down, were separated from that really good [operational] picture found in the TOC. Having the ability to sit in the back of the Stryker and look at the command post of the future [CPOF] to look at exactly what the brigade executive officer [XO] is looking at inside the brigade TOC, and to have a crystal clear conversation over voice or over chat is extremely powerful. It increases the shared understanding and [enhances] our ability to make decisions.”
The Army fielded 2/2 SBCT with elements of its latest networked capability set, or CS 15, equipment tool suite, which provides satellite-based network communications and situational awareness from the TOC all the way down to the platoon level. At every turn and decisive point, Soldiers can continually share and receive real time situational awareness for a complete common operating picture across the brigade, at any location. CS systems include WIN-T Inc 2, Joint Capabilities Release, or JCR, and mission command applications like CPOF and Blue Force Tracking 2, or BFT 2, the Army’s premier position locator. These systems work holistically to provide the comprehensive situational awareness and mission command capabilities needed to win in today’s complex fights.
The 2/2 SBCT put the Army’s network capabilities to the test in the NTC’s austere real-world operational environment. The training at NTC’s Decisive Action Rotations is reflective of the complexities of adversaries and contingencies U.S. forces could potentially face.
“The Army’s tool suite of network capabilities are supporting a globally responsive, expeditionary force in a very complex world, and they are crucial to the support of unpredictable and multifaceted mission scenarios,” said Col. Lamont Hall, product manager for WIN-T Inc 2. “We have integrated the network on Stryker platforms and various other combat platforms to support a wider variety of mission requirements and to increase operational flexibility.”
WIN-T serves as the Army’s network backbone, the transport mechanism that enables real-time situational awareness, mission command and networked communications, both in the TOC and on-the-move in network-equipped vehicles. It allows units to expand their operational reach to distances far beyond traditional line-of-sight ranges while maintaining communications and situational awareness of friendly and enemy forces.
“The WIN-T vehicles build a common operating picture with the senior leaders of the brigade and enable me to ‘talk’ without the tether of FM communications [or the TOC], ” said Col. Jerry Turner, commander for the 2/2 SBCT. “I save hours every time I can do something in transit that I wouldn’t be able to do without this [equipment].”
WIN-T Inc 2-equipped vehicles can also retransmit and extend lower tactical Internet radio networks so dismounted Soldiers can cover more ground and stay connected. The WIN-T Inc 2 Combat Network Radio, or CNR, Gateway extends legacy FM communications beyond-line-of-sight and connects previously disconnected platoon FM networks to the rest of the formation.
“Another power of this organization is the amount of intelligence infrastructure we have and the ability to provide intelligence as something useable to the company level,” said Maj. Nick Mumm, former XO for the 2/2 SBCT. “This WIN-T capability allows you to pass the information over the horizon [by satellite] to enable the Soldiers at company level with information that wouldn’t normally have been available to them.”
WIN-T Inc 2 also enhances the lethality of fires units, by enabling faster target hand-off and faster effects. It provides greater flexibility, extended ranges and increased survivability for networked counter fire radar units and fires direction centers. WIN-T Inc 2 significantly reduces end-to-end fires mission timelines, resulting in fewer dropped fires mission and providing a more reliable fires network.
The 2/2 SBCT was also integrated with the BFT 2 network, including the upgraded JCR software, which enables situational awareness of friendly forces, chat features and digital command and control down to the platoon and squad levels. Even though some echelons may not be connected to the WIN-T network, having both WIN-T and BFT2/JCR enables the entire BCT to stay connected and operationally informed.
The mission of the 2/2 SBCT “Lancers” is “to deploy anywhere in the world to prevent conflict, shape the operational environment and win any fight.” To better support this mission, the unit is now armed with the Army’s CS 15 network equipment to enable the sharing of real-time situational awareness and a common operating picture across the battlefield.
“When you see a situation, you have to make a decision, but sometimes that [information] bubble is very small, but now, [with this CS capability] it just increased,” Mumm said. “These capabilities increase our ability to synthesize information and help us make informed decisions.”