Yakima Training Center, Wash.- Everyone in the room starts yelling 'Fire Mission, Fire Mission,' and the room starts buzzing with instructions, numbers and call backs. A call just came from Marine Corps Camp Pendleton and within 15 minutes the High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System fires its rockets and hits said target.
Soldiers from 1-94 Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Field Artillery Brigade out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., team up with the Marines from 5-11 Marines Regiment, 1st Marine Division out of Cp. Pendleton, Calif., to exercise long distance communications and build joint standard operational procedures.
"First we are here to build relations with the Army," said Marine Corps 1st Lt. Ronnie Reyes, communications officer for 5-11th Marine Regiment. "We are looking at how each other operates, so that we may bounce ideas off of the other and to adopt the best practices."
This exercise is a continued effort to build a joint interoperability SOPs for HIMARS units that fall under a joint force artillery headquarters. Currently there is only one communication system that both forces are using and this exercise is giving each the ability to lessen the gap in their communications interoperability.
"We received a support package from the Marines here on the ground," said Army Cpt. Artem Skryabin, communications officer for 1-94th FAR. "We are exercising joint interoperability at the battalion level by simulation the Army sending reinforcement fires to the Marines in a frame work of joint force artillery headquarters."
Their current exercise is a rudimentary one, with the wars in the Middle East, the communication were made very easily through satellite systems. So they asked themselves, 'how would we do long range communications without military satellites?'
"Our objective is to operate in a satellite degraded environment," said Reyes. " We have gotten comfortable with satellite communications and now we need to get into fighting a near-peer threat. With the tech that is out there we need to assume that satellites will be degraded in a future confrontations."
So far they have accomplished this through the use of high-frequency voice and high frequency digital by stretching it to its excesses and through tunneling of pre-existing commercial infrastructures using the Harris RF-7800B Broadband Global Area Network.
"We are looking forward to testing out the BGAN system," said Skryabin, "because it is a system that we do not currently possess but will greatly help with interoperability between us and the Marines. We could do this with our current communications packages but the likelihood of success is very low."
"There is a lot that both sides are learning from this," said Reyes. "We are stretching the limits of our current shared communication systems, testing new communication gear to expand on current systems, and bringing an understanding of each others artillery lingo."
In the future they hope to conduct these exercises more independently. So that future exercises are more of a validation that upgraded services and that communications are working.
"Our plan is to continue with these kinds of exercises and increase the complexity and locations," said Skryabin. "To ensure that both the Army and Marines have a better global reach with our launchers and our fires, to increase our capabilities and to better support each other in our missions."