By Amy Newcomb, Fort Campbell CourierJune 19, 2015
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- Fort Campbell Soldiers have been learning to use the Nett Warrior system that was fielded to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd brigade combat teams more than 18 months ago. But for the past three months 101st Airborne Division units have been improving their proficiency with one-on-one support from the equipment's subject matter experts.
Typically, a unit would be fielded Nett Warrior equipment and provided with a week of training on how to use the system. However, Fort Campbell now has Nett Warrior trainers available to units on a permanent basis because leadership cares about the Soldiers and their understanding of the equipment, said Maj. Alexander Gonzales, Nett Warrior system assistant product manager, Program Executive Office Soldier.
"My leadership, Brig. Gen. Brian Cummings, wants us to be there with the Soldiers training to ensure they can go fight and win," he said. "What happens with the big turnover that we have in the Army, when we train the unit oftentimes those guys PCS, and then eventually it comes to where no one in the unit knows how to operate the system."
The Nett Warrior system is an integrated dismounted leader situational awareness system for use during combat operations, and is part of the Army's network of Capability Set Equipment.
"The Nett Warrior system is a situational awareness tool that provides the user the ability to see through graphics where he is at, where his fellow Soldiers are at and it allows you to place icons to show where the enemy is at," Gonzales said.
To establish continuity, Fort Campbell now has two field service representatives.
"Now the units at Fort Campbell can call our guys at any time to request training," Gonzales said. "What we try to do is deliver the capability to the units so we can train … and ensure the Soldiers there are Fort Campbell understand how to use the equipment."
Second Lt. Benjamin Fay, Company B, 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd BCT, signed for 15 Nett Warrior systems when he became a platoon leader. Through curiosity, he learned some about the system but said the training he received this week was beneficial.
"It's definitely good to have [the trainers] here because going forward it's going to take some time for everybody to catch on. While we are waiting for this type of equipment to become more of a standard thing in our unit we are going to need as many helping hands as we can get," Fay said.
Several of his own Soldiers were wary of using the system because they thought it would be awkward during a combat situation, Fay said, but it only takes seconds to drop icons on the map indicating where an enemy is located.
"It takes five to 10 seconds to mark 'hey, the enemy is here' and during that whole time, because this [system] is on you, adjacent units don't have to be wondering what is going on," he said. "They know exactly where you are and see where the units are oriented."
The most important feature the system has is being able to provide situation awareness, Fay said.
"These things are designed to make everyone in your unit aware of what's going on, where contact is coming from, where you're moving," he said. "That is what the system is designed for and frankly, it does it pretty well."
Last year during a deployment, Spc. Samuel Johnson, 1st Battalion, 502nd Inf. Reg., 2nd BCT, was able to see the Nett Warrior systems in action.
"During the deployment we had them circulating a lot as far as the phones, the Galaxys," Johnson said. "I just kept thinking 'this is awesome' that they were using commercial equipment instead of the old bulky [Advanced Special Improvement Program model of the Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System]."
Johnson said in the hands of a properly trained Soldier who is interested in the Nett Warrior system, it can be a valuable asset.
"Honestly, if you have someone that is familiar with it like the [radio telephone operator] or someone that's calling in stuff to record information, it is very handy because it allows them to record information accurately and send it up," he said. "It has all the reports, they can put icons on there and the icons can be seen by the whole squad."
Nett Warrior system overview
The Nett Warrior system will display a Soldier's GPS position and azimuth on a map using a graphic bearing indicator. It also shows buddy icons of other Nett Warrior users on the network, and any information regarding map locations that has been shared with other users.
This information is important so that when Soldiers are airlifted into a place, they know exactly where they are, Gonzales said.
If the pilot drops a Soldier off at a different location than what was originally planned, that Soldier could find himself in a serious situation, he said.
"With the Nett Warrior system, you have that pre-planned on that end-user device on your chest, so the pilot can drop you off wherever he wants to and you know exactly where you have got to go, it's pre-plotted," Gonzales said. "It will show you the village you have to hit and the direction you need to go."
A Soldier can also use the Nett Warrior system to communicate other types of information to network users to include sending a size activity location unit time equipment message, a MEDEVAC message, and a liquid ammo casualty equipment message.
The system can also place icons on a map to indicate small arms fire or an improvised explosive device, as well as show a route and send a map with user-drawn annotations.
"For the leadership on the ground, [the Nett Warrior system] takes a lot of the guess work out," Gonzales said. "You know where your people are at … and when you are moving through that village and you take small arms contact you can put your finger on that building or where that small arms contact is coming from, choose the small arms icon and now everyone in your formation knows where that small arms contact is coming from."
To schedule Nett Warrior sustainment training and equipment maintenance, contact Mark Davis at (253) 777-2006 or firstname.lastname@example.org.