MARCHE-EN-FAMENNE, Belgium (Sept. 21, 2015) -- Signaleers, from the 173rd Airborne Brigade and the Royal Netherlands Army, are conducting combined communications training here as part of Exercise Strong Engineer, Sept. 8-18.

Strong Engineer brings together Soldiers, from Company C, 54th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade and the Dutch 411th Engineer Company, 41st Armored Engineer Battalion, 13th Mechanized Infantry Brigade, to focus on building interoperability between Dutch and U.S. radio systems.

Using a tactical voice bridge, or TVB, radio, the combined Soldiers trained on how to transfer analog voice and data into digital voice and data. They then used the TVB to transmit and broadcast data to allied radio systems, creating a link between Dutch and U.S. radios.

"I enjoyed working with the Americans," said Dutch Sgt. 1st Class Jan Klerx, communications chief for the 411th. "The tactical voice bridge enables connectivity across multiple radio systems and ensures our future communications interoperability in multinational operations."

The ability to transmit voice and data communications across radio systems and mission command platforms enables communications interoperability among allied nations. Training signaleers on the use of radio interoperability systems enlarges the overall common operational picture for combat units by expanding the reach of radio systems to both organic and multinational units.

"Working with the Dutch signalers, being able to learn about their radios and how they communicate overall, increases our ability to integrate and work together," said U.S. Army Sgt. Derek McGarry, a paratrooper with Company C. "The tactical voice bridge breaks down battlefield communications barriers. I look forward to learning from the Dutch and working with them in the future."

Together, signaleers, from the U.S. and Dutch armies, developed techniques, tactics, and procedures for the usage of radio interoperability solutions, which will set the stage for future multinational battlefield communications, and for increased levels of NATO communications interoperability.

The 173rd signaleers regularly conducts combined communications training throughout Europe to bridge partner radio systems between NATO allies and partners, and implement secure radio interoperability solutions for combat units.

The 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, is the U.S. Army Contingency Force in Europe, providing ready forces anywhere in the U.S. European, Africa and Central Commands areas of responsibility within 18 hours.