By Capt. James K. Mayberry, Mission Command Test Directorate, U.S. Army Operational Test CommandMarch 31, 2017
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The Army's only airborne infantry brigade combat team in the Pacific theater is supporting an Initial Operational Test here before heading off to a combat training center rotation.
When the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division saw the opportunity to test and field the new Transportable Tactical Command Communications (T2C2), unit leadership jumped at the chance.
"Right after the unit volunteered to test this new gear, they also received word they'd be heading to the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) in Fort Polk, Louisiana during June," said Keith West, Test Officer with the U.S. Army Operational Test Command's (USAOTC) Mission Command Test Directorate.
In a nutshell, T2C2 uses proven commercially-available components that will allow Soldiers and their commanders increased situational awareness to ensure the best outcomes as they apply more effective combat power.
With its timeline suddenly compressed, the Infantry Soldiers were faced with upgrades of their command systems, and firing exercises like gunnery qualifications -- all while wrapping an operational test of the T2C2 into the mix.
About 40 Soldiers were hand-picked to train on and test the T2C2 March 15 to 26, allowing the rest of the brigade to focus on ongoing operations.
"Given the limited signal experience of the system operators, it is unbelievable that non-signal Soldiers with only two weeks of training are able to acquire the satellite, put them into operation quickly, and make mission," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Woody Scott, the 4th Brigade's network operations officer-in-charge. "That says something incredible about how these systems are designed in their simplicity."
"The systems and Soldiers have proven to be equally resilient," added Capt. Daniel L. Standridge, the 4th Brigade's chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear defense officer.
Scott said T2C2 could become an advantage for all Airborne brigades.
"During Arctic operations, the Air Force trying to land their aircraft has to be de-conflicted with Army Aviation assets," he said. "We can't get other assets on the ground until someone has been able to clear the drop zone and communicate back."
As USAOTC's test non-commissioned officer-in-charge for his first initial operational test, Sgt. 1st Class Shelby R. Schoolcraft said, "Participating in this operational test opened my eyes to how important it is to test equipment before putting it in the hands of Soldiers," noting the innovative ways the Soldiers discovered to use the systems.
"T2C2 brings greater throughput and a higher quality network that comes on-line quickly and can operate at much lower temperatures," said Scott.
"Early entry packages like the T2C2 Lite, and now with a drop-capable T2C2 Heavy, make an Arctic mission safer for our brigade."
USAOTC's mission is about making sure that systems developed are effective in a Soldier's hands and suitable for the environments in which Soldiers train and fight. Test units and their Soldiers offer their feedback, which influences the future by offering input to improve upon existing and future systems that Soldiers will ultimately use to train and fight with.