VICENZA, Italy -- Signaleers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade and the Slovenian Army's 1st Brigade Signal Company conducted secure tactical communications training at Caserma Del Din from Jan. 25 through Feb. 5, 2016, as a part of a brigade hosted consolidated skills training event taking place across Italy and Germany.

The training brought Sky Soldiers and the Slovenian army together to develop expert radio operators capable of performing in combat environments and ensuring that their commanders can effectively command and control a multinational battlefield.

"This course trains Soldiers to be expert radio operators. Having our Slovenian allies here to train with us heightens the experience. As a communications NCO in Europe, I work alongside soldiers from other NATO countries regularly; being able to work together is critical in order to accomplish our missions." said U.S. Army Sgt. Edgar Rodriguez, a radio team chief assigned to the 54th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade.

The course, instructed primarily by senior subject matter experts from the 173rd Airborne Brigade and representatives from Harris Corporation, taught students for two weeks on the operation, maintenance and proper procedures of U.S. Army tactical communications systems. Students used classroom materials and hands-on experience to facilitate secure communications interoperability. Additionally, the consolidated skills training covered advanced field techniques for items including the construction of field expedient antennas with nothing more than wires and sticks.

"It is important to train and build partnerships with each other," said Slovenian army Sgt. Rajko Maljuga, a radio operator specialist. "We [the Slovenians] especially enjoyed the field expedient antenna training and learning about [U.S. Army] radio communications equipment."

After training on the tactical radios, signaleers from the U.S. and Slovenian armies developed tactics, techniques, and procedures for the usage of radio operations solutions that will set the stage for future multinational battlefield communications, and for increased levels of NATO communications.
The 54th Brigade Engineer Battalion's signal company regularly conducts combined communications training throughout Europe to bridge partner radio systems between NATO allies and partners to implement secure radio operations solutions for combat units.

The 173rd Airborne Brigade is the U.S. Army's Contingency Response Force in Europe, providing rapidly deployable forces to the U.S. Army Europe, Africa and Central Commands areas of responsibility within 18 hours. The Brigade routinely trains alongside NATO allies and partners to build stronger relationships and strengthen the alliance.