By Mr. William B King (5th Signal Command)June 1, 2016
COVENTRY, England -- U.S. and British Army signal Soldiers conducted cross training on each other's signal systems during exercise Stoney Run in Bramcote, England, further enhancing communications and network interoperability, and working relationships between the two NATO Allies.
Soldiers from the 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 2nd Signal Brigade, set up two Secure Internet Protocol Router/Non-secure Internet Protocol Router (SIPR/NIPR) Access Point satellite terminals, or SNAPS, and two line-of-sight systems Wednesday at the 30th Signal Regiment's Training Area Windbreak in Bramcote. The Soldiers then explained the function and capabilities of each system and how they work together to build a secure, mobile and robust network to support the U.S. and its Allies anytime, anywhere.
Tuesday the U.S. Soldiers received similar training on British HF, satellite and line-of-sight signal systems from their partner unit, the 250th Gurkha Signal Squadron.
The two cross training events were part of Stoney Run, an annual U.S.-U.K. signal exercise designed to test and validate communications and network capabilities, and enhance interoperability and partner capacity between the two NATO Allies.
While the main part of Stoney Run is taking place in Grafenwoehr, Germany, this year marks the first time the 44th ESB has sent signal assets to train and support the exercise from the U.K. A convoy from the unit arrived in England Sunday after traveling 1,456 kilometers (905 miles) across three countries on 72-hour notice.
Pfc. Jordan Johnson, a SNAP operator in Company B, 44th ESB, said working closely with the British during the exercise helps build familiarity between systems and Allies, and increases deployment preparation and readiness on both sides.
"I've learned a lot more knowledge than I would just reading from a book. When you're actually working with people and you're getting to be more hands on, I think that greatly enhances the overall knowledge of our Army," Johnson said.
Maj. John Walton, commander of the 250th Gurkha Signal Squadron, said the Stoney Run exercise allows his Soldiers to understand how different pieces of equipment work together and how U.S. Army signal teams are structured, which has benefits for future exercises or operational deployments.
"The main reason for the exercise is to build interoperability, which is one of the British Army's key objectives with our American Allies from an equipment perspective, but also from a social perspective," Walton said.
The Allies will build relationships through a social gathering, teambuilding events such as basketball and joint physical training, and cultural awareness and education visits to major cities and sites such as London, York and Shakespeare's birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon.
"You're able to build bonds that reach out further than the Army, so if you ever needed people that you could depend on in this country, you would have people you could go to," Johnson said of working with the British.
2nd Lt. Cye Heatherly, a platoon leader in Company B, 44th ESB, said the benefits of Stoney Run extend far beyond the technical elements of the exercise.
"Our goal is to strengthen our partnership with our British Allies and to build relationships, interoperability and a Strong Europe," Heatherly said.
The 44th ESB Soldiers will provide logistical support to the 250th Gurkha Signal Squadron during exercise Stoney Run through June 13. The unit's two SNAPS and two line-of-sight systems will allow U.S. and British systems to pass voice and data across a shared network and communicate between units in the U.K. and Germany.
5th Signal Command (Theater) builds, operates and defends network capabilities to enable mission command and create tactical, operational and strategic flexibility for the Army, Joint and Multinational forces in the EUCOM and AFRICOM areas of responsibility.
2nd Signal Brigade builds, operates and defends Mission Command System and Networks in order to support unified action anytime, anywhere.