By Mr. William B King (2nd Signal Brigade)June 7, 2018
WIESBADEN, Germany - Teams of U.S. Signal Soldiers are on the ground providing ready and reliable communications and network support to exercise Saber Strike, enabling mission command for thousands of U.S. and allied Soldiers operating across multiple countries.
Saber Strike is a U.S. Army Europe-led cooperative training effort involving approximately 18,000 Soldiers from 19 participating nations taking place in Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia and Poland from June 3-15, 2018. The exercise trains participants on command and control, logistics, host nation support activities and interoperability.
The Signal teams are assigned to the 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 2nd Theater Signal Brigade; the 86th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 11th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade from Fort Bliss, Texas; and Bravo Company, 151st Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 228th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade, South Carolina National Guard.
The teams provide users with a range of voice and data services, including Voice Over Internet Protocol, video teleconference, SharePoint, chat, and common operating picture, through Non-secure Internet Protocol Router Network, or NIPRNet, Secure Internet Protocol Router Network, or SIPRNet, and the Mission Partner Environment network, or MPE.
In the Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area, or DPTA, in northwest Poland, a Command Post Node, or CPN, team led by Sgt. Kyle Cardell, assigned to Alpha Company, 44th Expeditionary Signal Bn., has provided continuous communications support to the 15th Engineer Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, since April with Resolute Castle through Saber Strike. During Saber Strike, the 15th Engineer Battalion is tasked to provide survivability positions to the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command and provide mission command to Military Police conducting base cluster defense and escort missions.
Lt. Col. John McNamara, commander of the 15th Engineer Battalion, said the communications support he receives from the CPN team is critical to allowing him to accomplish his mission.
"The CPN team is a valuable asset that allows the commander to have not only the voice communication, but also to send written communication that is critical to providing mission command," McNamara said. "The support we have received from our CPN team has been great."
Teams are also providing support to allied nations participating in Saber Strike, including host nation Poland. In DPTA, a CPN team led by U.S. Army Spc. Chene Nowicki, assigned to A Co., 44th Expeditionary Signal Bn., is providing communications support to the Polish Army's 12th Mechanized Brigade headquarters.
"It's good to work with them (Polish Soldiers) because you get to see different ways of doing things, and creating that bond and working together with another allied unit to complete the mission feels good," Nowicki said.
Small teams of 3-5 Soldiers are each capable of providing the communications and network connectivity for a commander and supported unit, meaning a small Signal unit can have a big impact on the exercise as a whole. For example, a platoon from Bravo Company, 44th Expeditionary Signal Bn., in Powidz, Poland, has eight teams supporting battalion and brigade headquarters for several maneuver and logistics units, including the 2d Cavalry Regiment, 16th Sustainment Brigade, Defense Logistics Agency and the Joint Logistics Enterprise, deployed throughout Poland and in Lithuania.
"One platoon's worth is supporting multiple different units providing mission command across the theater during the exercise. Their ability, their reach and their influence is quite vast in this theater," said Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Lopez, a platoon sergeant assigned to B Co., 44th Expeditionary Signal Bn.
Bravo Company's forward headquarters and company Network Operations, or NETOPS, in Boleslawiec, Poland, ensures its teams on the ground remain up on services and have everything they need to provide mission command and a common operating picture to their supported units.
"We're supporting literally every aspect of Saber Strike from the logistic, to the medical to the maneuver piece," said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Carson Horne, the executive officer assigned to B Co., 44th Expeditionary Signal Bn. "We really allow the commanders to get a full picture of what's happening on the ground and project that to their higher headquarters so that higher commanders can see the bigger picture and ensure their intent is being executed."
Bravo Company, 44th Expeditionary Signal Bn., is co-located with B Co., 151st Expeditionary Signal Bn., 228th Theater Tactical Signal Bde., South Carolina National Guard, which has been on the ground in Boleslawiec for about a month. The company has been receiving their equipment, validating onto the European network, and preparing its people and equipment to deploy on missions supporting Resolute Castle, Saber Strike and Atlantic Resolve.
The relationship between the two companies has been mutually supportive - the South Carolina National Guard Soldiers are providing services for B Co., 44th Expeditionary Signal Bn. to run its company NETOPS, and the active-duty Soldiers are teaching classes, providing supply and maintenance support, and sharing best practices for conducting Signal operations in Europe.
"The 44th (Expeditionary Signal Battalion) has been tremendously helpful in integrating us into their ranks. Now we're a fully functioning Signal company that is ready and able to go on mission," said U.S. Army Capt. Daniel Taylor, commander of B Co., 151st ESB.
Signal support for the exercise is being coordinated by the 2nd Theater Signal Brigade NETOPS out of the Lt. Gen. Robert E. Gray Regional Cyber Center Europe in Wiesbaden.