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US Army tests mobile communications gear for armored units by Mark Pomerleau for C4ISRNET 16.02.22

FORT STEWART, Ga. — The current way the Army communicates — from units operating in the field to establishing command posts — is too slow and clunky to survive or be effective against a capable adversary.

“We know on the future battlefield, you got to fight dispersed and distributed,” Maj. Gen. Charles Costanza, commander of 3rd Infantry Division, told reporters at a media day at Fort Stewart, Georgia. He went on, adding that command posts at the brigade and division level are “just too big” and “not survivable.”

Armored formations must move rapidly on the battlefield, but their current communications architecture doesn’t allow them to do what they need at the right speed or range. The Army is working to change that. Between January and February, the service conducted a pilot aimed at better understanding the needs and design for modernizing the network for armored formations.

As part of the Army’s modernized network approach, it is providing “capability sets” to units every two years, each building upon the previous delivery and adding in new technologies. The first of these, Capability Set ‘21, was designed for infantry brigades. The next two focused on Stryker brigades and armored brigades, respectively.

The three-week pilot, which took place at Fort Stewart with 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, sought to help establish Capability Set ‘25 design goals and inform concepts, requirements and technology maturity from division to battalion.

The soldier feedback gathered during the effort — especially so far in advance, given a preliminary design review isn’t scheduled until around April 2023 — is essential for providing units the capabilities they need to succeed. Officials hoped to understand how the capabilities were deployed, whether the right equipment was put in the right place in the right formation and did the technology support or hinder the mission.

To get that feedback and test new equipment in an operational context, the pilot outfitted three battalions with three different network configurations called equipment sets. One included line-of-sight and satellite communications; one was primarily satellite communications; and one was line-of-sight heavy.

Early feedback from soldiers indicated that the new equipment significantly improved units’ ability to move and communicate quicker, although some equipment might not be in the right formations.

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US Army tests mobile communications gear for armored units by Mark Pomerleau for C4ISRNET
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New network equipment will change the way the Army operates and fights. (Capt. Tobias Cukale/Army)

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