Army evaluating communications systems at White Sands Missile Range and Fort Bliss

Juan Gutierrez
Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 11:00pm

It's a one of a kind military communication system and it's being tested at White Sands Missile Range and Fort Bliss.

About 3800 soldiers from the 2nd Heavy Brigade and 1st Armored Division have been testing a system that will allow soldiers in combat zones to communicate better.

"Most of us have combat experience and we know what we want it to do what we need it to do," said Staff Sgt Lance Bradford.

The soldiers have set up camps on Fort Bliss and White Sands Missile Range property simulating the conditions found in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"We are truly replicating the operational environment, the combat scenarios and the actual stresses that will be put on the various systems," said Maj. Ralph Radka.

The communications system can be compared to a very high tech cell phone network that allows users to send data, text messages and make voice calls all in realtime.

However, the system is very different with much tighter security to prevent break-ins and the network is highly mobile.

"We have to be able to be dynamic and rapidly change the environments that we are in," Radka said.

Through a series of satellite trucks, the Army can set up a communications network wherever they are at.

Bigger satellite trucks can send and receive information from other vehicles to individual soldiers and down to the centralized camp while on the move if necessary.

"Across bumpy terrain or arduous terrain you're going to see some hiccups here and there but 99 percent of the time we have a good quality connection," said Maj. Ernest Turnabell IV.

With each individual soldier carrying a unit and with each vehicle equipped with the system, the soldiers always have access to important information on the mission.
"With this device we can actually up the ante of our combat power by just the click of a button," Bradford said.

By the end of the evaluation the soldiers will have set up a network the size of the state of Connecticut.

"The brigades that deploy in the future will naturally deploy with those capabilities we'll be able to implement them immediately," Radka said.

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