FORT GORDON, Ga. -- The Army formally fielded the first unit with the new small form factor Terrestrial Transmission Line Of Sight radio, known as TRILOS, along with several other expeditionary network communication capabilities that will help units maneuver and outmatch potential near peer threats.
"Units need equipment that is smaller, lighter, quicker and more agile, but still able to provide a fast tactical network," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Randy Smith, network operations technician for 67th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 35th Tactical Theater Signal Brigade. "We are on the move. Equipment needs to move quickly with the Soldier."
The Army's Project Manager Tactical Network, with support from Communications Electronics Command network trainers, completed new equipment training and fielding for these new expeditionary capabilities to the 67th Expeditionary Signal Battalion in late June at Fort Gordon.
The modular TRILOS radio sets up more quickly, is easier to operate and maintain, delivers a 12-fold increase in bandwidth and with greater network range extension. These improvements are delivered in a significantly smaller package, compared with the legacy High Capacity Line Of Sight radio that it replaces.
"TRILOS increases the mileage in which units can be [located] away from the larger brigade or battalion," Smith said. "And it's going to allow for a greater flow of data across the network. I would use this as the primary backbone because I would be able to get data products across the network faster than doing a satellite shot."
Along with the TRILOS radio, the unit was fielded with the small form factor Commercial Coalition Equipment, which enables network connectivity to commercial and coalition networks. The unit also received Army's Secure Wi-Fi capability, which dramatically reduces command post setup time, providing network connectivity and mission command capabilities in minutes versus the hours required to wire a command post.
In addition, the unit also received Battlefield Video Tele Conference III, a much smaller yet more capable upgrade to the previous version; and the Tactical Network Management System Planner, which enables Soldiers to plan the placement of TRILOS or legacy HCLOS radio antennas, for optimal network connectivity, eliminating the time-consuming trial-and-error process.
"The Army is always moving forward, and we are getting a lot of great new equipment that is smaller, sets up easier and makes our networks a lot faster," said Sgt. Caleb Carlson, network operator for Charlie Company, 67th Expeditionary Signal Battalion.
In June, the Army approved the materiel release for TRILOS radio (a program of record), and CCE and Secure Wi-Fi (both non-PORs), allowing PM Tactical Network to formally field the systems. Prior to the TRILOS Full Rate Production decision in January, to help speed acquisition and delivery, the PM worked with Army leadership to change and streamline the milestone decision process and reduce enormous amounts of redundant and unnecessary supporting documentation, which can bottleneck approvals.
To speed development, the PM relied heavily on Soldier feedback from pilot units, enabling the PM to continually improve the new systems prior to formal fielding. A good example of this model can be seen in the efforts following the TRILOS operational test, which was conducted during Network Integration Evaluation 17.1, at Fort Bliss, Texas, in July 2017. As part of a test-fix-test process, the PM took Soldier feedback from the operational test directly to its industry partners. Together they integrated 12 refinements to the TRILOS radio within 45 days of the conclusion of NIE. The PM then demonstrated these enhancements to the NIE operational unit to ensure they met the mark.
"The moment that we got the TRILOS out and we set up the tripod and we were looking at it, just little things like the pins to the stakes and how the whole thing is set up, we could tell they took a lot of time getting feedback from Soldiers," said Staff. Sgt. Brad Bowen, Bravo Company, 67th Expeditionary Signal Battalion network operations. "It's a much more thought out system, from the tripods to the antennas to how it interfaces with our current communication equipment. Soldiers seem to be able to comprehend this system much quicker."
To help retain overmatch against potential near-peer threats, the Army is honing in on new technologies like those fielded to the 67th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, which increase the speed of maneuver, while providing a faster, more robust tactical communications network. In today's complex world, with joint and coalition forces facing increasingly sophisticated adversaries, new expeditionary technologies such as these will enable units to rapidly relocate with less network downtime for continuity of mission command and real-time situational awareness.
"With this smaller equipment we don't require as much manpower to get set up, and it reduces the amount of time it takes to be 'green' and ready to go," said Spc. Taylor Finney, Single Shelter Switch team chief for Charlie Company, 67th Expeditionary Signal Battalion. "It's going to help commanders to draw from their staffs a lot faster, and they are going to have access to the information they need to make decisions a lot faster, and that is defiantly a major multiplier."
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The U.S. Army Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical develops, acquires, fields and supports the Army's mission command network to ensure force readiness. This critical Army modernization priority delivers tactical communications so commanders and Soldiers can stay connected and informed at all times, even in the most austere and hostile environments. PEO C3T is delivering the network to regions around the globe, enabling high-speed, high-capacity voice, data and video communications to a user base that includes the Army's joint, coalition and other mission partners.