By Kenji ThuloweitJuly 28, 2019
Training the trainers was the mission of Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jack Gordon of the 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command's Sustainment Automation Support Management Office. The chief came up to U.S. Army Garrison-Humphreys from Daegu to train 32 Soldiers and civilians on how to set up and operate the Army's new Inflatable Satellite Antenna.
For two weeks, students from various units at Humphreys took classroom lessons and later set up their ISA systems, which then connected to a satellite above Earth. The goal is to have each Soldier and civilian be able to return to their units and train other personnel on the ISA.
Eighth Army is the first unit to receive ISA systems according to Jesus Palomino, Eighth Army G4, Logistics Automation Branch. The ISA is a lightweight, versatile satellite terminal, which Soldiers can set up and connect to a satellite to conduct logistics operations in the field. Soldiers can order anything from vehicle parts to medical supplies.
"It's highly mobile and can be setup anywhere in an austere environment," Gordon said.
The new system looks different than the legacy version; its dish sits inside a 1.2-meter inflatable ball. The ISA is more expeditionary than the legacy version because it only weighs approximately 150 pounds and packs into just two cases. It is designed so two Soldiers can set up the ISA in less than 30 minutes, compared to more than 45 minutes for the previous system, according to U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command.
One team July 25, managed to unpack, set up their ISA and achieve satellite connectivity in 15 minutes.
"The team I was with set the ISA up in eight-and-a-half minutes, but I didn't want to tell them that," said Palomino. "We have 125 systems across the peninsula. This is the first time we conducted a training event like this and we plan to conduct them quarterly."
Both Gordon and Palomino said because of the high rotational tempo throughout Eighth Army, it's necessary for Soldiers to be continually trained on the new ISA. This is also the reason why some of Eighth Army's U.S. and South Korean civilians were trained as they provide continuity.
According to U.S. Army CECOM, the ISA fits into the Army's warfighting doctrine of Multi-Domain Operations, which considers a single combined battlespace across all of air, land, sea, space and cyberspace. The character of warfare is shifting toward small, agile, dispersed units, often fighting in dense urban environments. This increases the need for expeditionary sustainment to keep units in the fight.
Despite its appearance, the ISA will not pop like a balloon if punctured. The new system is also designed to withstand interference because wind tends to travel around its round shape as opposed to an exposed satellite dish. The ISA also can operation in additional spectrum bands, according to U.S. Army CECOM.