By Sgt. Jacob A Sawyer (USAREUR)April 5, 2015
HOHENFELS, Germany -- More than 4,700 participants from 17 Allied and European partner nations have arrived here for exercise Saber Junction 15. But before most of them do anything, they've got to get their lasers.
At the beginning of every training rotation, all Soldiers, vehicles and weapons systems are required to receive a Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System, or MILES, that allows the training engagements to occur and record the data for analysis and feedback during after-action reviews.
The MILES warehouse at Hohenfels is responsible for the installation of vehicle MILES components, personnel MILES, and the overall integration into the JMRC Hohenfels Training Area battlefield. During Saber Junction 15, the MILES warehouse will install battle tracking systems on over 1,000 vehicles and 3,100 personnel.
Saber Junction 15 prepares U.S., NATO allies, and European security partners to conduct unified land operations through the simultaneous combination of offensive, defensive and stability operations appropriate to the mission and the environment and to promote interoperability with partner nations.
The MILES warehouse is able to install MILES gear on the myriad of different U.S. and multinational vehicles and weapons systems brought for training at to the JMRC for exercises like Saber Junction. Sgt. 1st Class Trevor Davis, an NCO noncommissioned officer from U.S. Army Europe's Training Aids, Devices, Simulators, and Simulations (TADSS) says, "The key [is], if we can get 24 volts to it, we can pretty much power and instrument anything out there."
When different units, nations and vehicles are identified to come to JMRC for training, the MILES warehouse identifies the type of MILES equipment needed to outfit the unit. Systems like the Stryker Assault Vehicle, the main platform for the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, the Army's featured unit during Saber Junction 15, have to receive MILES gear from another post that already runs the Stryker MILES system. Once it gets to Hohenfels, the MILES warehouse will add a few components to the already emplaced MILES system and the vehicle is then ready for the exercise.
The process and time of installation varies from vehicle to vehicle. Because of this fact, the MILES warehouse employs several dozen highly skilled technicians for installation and repair. Some vehicles might be in and out of the MILES warehouse in 20 minutes while others might take hours to install.
Capt. Gerely Banfalvvi, 25th Hungarian Infantry Brigade believes, "the MILES gear is very good and very useful during the training, because we can simulate not only the fighting but we can track the soldiers and a lot of functions which is very useful. For example the AAR's after a mission or exercise, so it's a very great thing to have for us during rotation here."
The MILES team also maintains "contact teams" to respond whenever a MILES system breaks-down. According to Davis, technicians that know the MILES gear inside and out and can perform maintenance on the spot. Units don't have to leave the field or their training areas to repair their vehicles.
MILES gear can also be adapted to two Army airframes, the Apache and the Blackhawk helicopters. Because of the sensitive and delicate nature of the aircraft instrumentation, MILES technicians travel to the aircraft's home station to fit and calibrate the MILES gear on the aircraft. If necessary, they can also fit the aircraft with MILES gear at JMRC in a special tent to keep the elements away from the precision aircraft equipment.
Vehicles and aircraft aren't the only thing to get MILES gear; all participating Soldiers get personal MILES consisting of helmet sensors, chest sensors, and weapon lasers. Unit leadership also has access to a Precision Real-Time Locator or PRTL. The PRTL not only tracks Soldiers and vehicles on the battlefield, it also receives codes when the Soldier has been hit with a variety of munitions from small arms fire, artillery and gas to mines and drone strikes.
JMRC's MILES warehouse will continue to ensure that all training units are fitted and ready for any and everything the training at JMRC calls for in the future.
JMRC is the U.S. Army's only overseas combat training center. It is part of the 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command that trains more than 60,000 soldiers (U.S., allied, and partner nations) annually.
To learn more about U.S. Army Europe's Saber Junction exercise series, visit the official exercise homepage at www.eur.army.mil/SaberJunction.