WARSAW, Poland -- Soldiers and Civilians from Team Signal -- 5th Signal Command (Theater), 2nd Signal Brigade and the U.S. Army Europe G6 -- have integrated more than 60 tactical systems in 17 locations into a federated network to provide communications support to U.S., Allied and partner nations during Exercise Anakonda 2016 taking place June 6-17 throughout Poland.
A Polish led, joint multinational exercise, Anakonda will test the ability, readiness and interoperability of the Polish Armed Forces with Allies and partners, while conducting a joint defensive operation on a large scale. According to exercise organizers, there are more than 30,000 participants from 24 partner and Allied countries taking part in Anakonda 2016.
Col. Jimmy L. Hall Jr., commander of 5th Signal Command (Theater) and the U.S. Army Europe, or USAREUR, chief information officer/G6, said the communications goals for the exercise are to accomplish interoperability and establish secure voice and data down to the lowest level possible.
"For the first time in, I would say 10 years, we have been able to combine assets from 5th Signal Command and the USAREUR G6 with a forward presence providing that critical communications link and those critical communications nodes to enable mission command," Hall said.
Maj. Ken Donnolly, USAREUR G6 chief of operations, said Soldiers have been working since mid-May to deploy, set up and integrate U.S. Army communications systems with the Polish systems and network.
"There's a challenge there federating those two systems (U.S. and Polish) together so that we can talk, but we're getting through it and we'll be successful with it," Donnolly said.
In addition to achieving the communications and technical goals of the exercise, Hall said it's important to build trust and relationships with our Polish Allies.
"This is important for relationships and for enabling the Alliance. Relationships are built over time, and this exercise is just another step in the improving of our relationships and enabling the Alliance," Hall said.
During a visit to the new Polish Network Operations Center June 6 in Bialobrzegi, Hall presented commander's coins to two members of the U.S. Army signal contingent working there to provide network support for the exercise, including Spc. David Knight of the 52nd Signal Battalion, 2nd Signal Brigade. Knight said working side-by-side with the Polish signal Soldiers has given him a better understanding of their culture, systems and troubleshooting procedures.
"Our Polish Allies have been easy to work with and very helpful, and I'm glad for the opportunity to be here," Knight said.
Donnolly agreed that working closely with the Poles has helped build trust and understanding.
"The trust is building because we're spending day and night together, working hard and solving problems together, and sharing information," Donnolly said.
Col. Paul Frendenburgh, a division chief in the office of the U.S. Army Chief Information Officer/G6, was in Poland June 6 for the opening ceremony of the exercise. He also visited the Network Operations Center and observed U.S. and Polish signal Soldiers working together in the exercise.
"The level of integration and cooperation that I've seen here is unprecedented. I really applaud the strengthening of the Alliance here," Frendenburgh said.
Still to come in Anakonda are live fire, river crossing, mass casualty evacuation, cyber and electronic warfare exercises.
"This is historic what we're doing here. It's about our partnership, it's about our Allies," Hall said.
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 U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command areas of responsibility.
2nd Signal Brigade builds, operates and defends Mission Command System and networks to support unified action anytime, anywhere.