By Maj. Chad CooperSeptember 3, 2019
FORT GORDON, G.A. (Aug 21, 2019) -- The current U.S. Army Signal force design does not enable large scale mission command to expeditionary forward-deployed warfighters in both austere and hostile operating environments.
One improved capability, which supports military contingencies as well as national emergencies, is based on a command and control package that incorporates everything over Internet protocol.
U.S. Army's 35th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade's, 50th Expeditionary Signal Battalion- Enhanced (ESB-E) is the Army's prototype for innovation. The Army's Enroute Mission Command (EMC) communication new network equipment package is more rapidly deployable, reliable, secure and capable communications system are defining the next generation of communications gear for the U.S. Army. A modernization program which leverages emerging commercial-off-the-shelf technologies to enhance capability and capacity to meet joint operating requirements.
"The 35th TTSB is available for worldwide deployment in support of any Combatant Command," said Col Matthew Foulk, 35th TTSB, commander. "The current signal force structure is not going to meet the Army's expectations in the future. A few years ago the Army instituted three separate pilots: the division signal battalion, enhanced G6/S6 and then a JCSE like unit that can provide that capability. The Chief of Staff of the Army decided to go with the JCSE like element and the 50th [Expeditionary Signal Battalion-Enhanced] was chosen to be that element and help evolve the network for the future. I took over as the G6 of the 101st Airborne Division in June of 2014 and within 90 days I was sitting on the west coast of Liberia, but I could not provide that capability to the division commander because our equipment was not scalable. So I think the most important thing coming out of the 50th prototype is the scalability, and the kit seamlessly scales support from an early-entry package to a full joint force headquarters or even a Field Army. In the current force structure we can't do that."
As part of the Army's continued efforts to modernize the tactical network, Soldier feedback from the 50th ESB-E support to training, operational and field exercises is helping shape potential future equipment solutions and force structure for the service's 24 ESBs.
The 50th ESB which as a core competency provides operational agility to combatant commanders and their joint task forces, is the organization behind this innovation. The Army will use Soldier feedback from the pilot to inform the Army's ESB network capability design decisions.
The U.S. Army in conjunction with the Program Executive Office Command Control Communications Tactical (PEO C3T) office has conducted thousands of hours of engineering and testing during the past 10 months to finalize the development, accreditation and certification of this communications architecture.
In the past 10 months, the 50th has operationally tasked the newly certified system to support both unclassified and classified missions in Korea, European theater, and over 14 U.S. and coalition missions worldwide. "This equipment has allowed us to dramatically increase our capability. It has enhanced our ability to run simultaneous operations in multiple areas of operation." said Lt. Col Ronald Iammartino, 50th ESB-E, commander. "Based on these operational successes, units throughout the Defense Department are employing technology to meet the rigorous demands and time lines of their missions. The feedback that we've received over these exercises has come with praise and recognitions that are truly appreciated. Bridging complex command, control, communications and computer technical hurdles. This modernization program which leverages emerging commercial-off-the-shelf technologies to enhance capability and capacity to meet joint operating requirements utilizing both UHG and cellular technologies. The commander, we supported during Roving Sands 2019, which is a three-week long joint air defense exercise held at Fort Bliss, Texas that focuses on training and certifying the Air Defense Artillery units, said, 'The ESB's new equipment allows us to be a lot more flexible and expeditionary in nature, we have used these kits for multiple rapid tactical jumps and scaled up to our main tactical operations center, this new capability is outstanding."
With the ease of use and scalability this new kit empowers young Soldiers to become multifaceted multifunctional Soldiers able to meet requirements for supported units.
"The biggest take away is we really didn't have to find where we fit we were able to adjust our capabilities with what the requesting unit needed," said Spc. Keeton, a communications Soldiers assigned to the 50th ESB-E. "Also we were able to work on an airborne operations where we were able to rapidly jump with our kit and provide classified and unclassified services to the combatant commander's AO in a matter of seven minutes further proving the impact of this kit.
We will generate a list of recommendations and based off how the pilot was executed we'll go back to Army senior leadership and get that blessed off on," said Col. Shane Taylor, EMC Program Lead, PEO C3T. "With the decision brief potentially this fall we can move out with the intent of fielding three ESB's within FY20. Right now we're scheduled to field three ESBs next year and an additional three in FY21 and based on that we'll do a full and open for all years beyond FY21.