Arcane Thunder 23 (AT23) is a 2nd Multi-Domain Task Force exercise that took place with the U.S. Army and multinational partners from Aug. 28 to Sep. 8, 2023, in Mainz-Kastel, Germany; Ustka, Poland; and Mihail, Romania. AT23, as part of the U.S. Army’s Project Convergence – Europe (PC-E) campaign, evaluated and validated the progress of modernization efforts of continuous integration of effects in various domains, including air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace.
A validated success, combining cutting-edge experimental technologies and formations that will be critical in shaping the Army of the future, AT23 has set an example for future multi-domain operations exercises. For roughly two weeks, several U.S. and multinational NATO partners collaborated to test, train and validate advanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, and multiple sensors to in a complex operating environment. The extensive training maximized interoperability among NATO and multinational partners to include Romania, Finland, France, and the United Kingdom.
AT23 was an unprecedented multi-domain and multinational exercise resulting from the close partnership between Army Futures Command and the United States Army Europe and Africa (USAREUR-AF). The exercise involved testing experimental technologies and formations that will further capability requirements to inform the Army of 2030.
"Arcane Thunder 23 showcased the 2nd MDTF's highly skilled capabilities which provide an array of options in deterring aggression in the European theatre," said Brig. Gen. Andrew C. Gainey, Commanding General, 56th Artillery Command. Ultimately, the joint training exercise underscored the enduring relationships with our multinational partners and allies while promoting a shared understanding of the complex strategic environment."
Project Convergence – Europe
Army Futures Command (AFC), Joint Modernization Command (JMC) and United States Army Europe and Africa (USAREUR-AF) Partnership
Project Convergence is the Army’s campaign of learning, designed to aggressively advance and integrate the Army’s contributions to the Joint Force. It ensures that the Army, as part of the Joint and Combined fight, can rapidly and continuously converge effects across all domains – air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace – overmatch our adversaries in competition and conflict. Project Convergence – Europe (PC-E) incorporates Arcane Thunder 23 into the Project Convergence campaign of learning.
Army Futures Command (AMC) ensured relevant impacts to Army Transformation were captured and incorporated into AFC’s Persistent Experimentation Campaign during AT23. AFC supported maximizing USAREUR-AF’s experimentation opportunities, ensuring key in-theater learning holistically informs Army Transformation efforts.
Col. Zack Miller Commander of the Joint Modernization Command (JMC) explained the partnership and AT23's role in PE-C:
"PC-E is the third time this year that JMC has had an “in-theater” look at capabilities and formations supporting Army transformation. Since the 2nd MDTF is one of the signature formations of the Army 2030 concept and fits uniquely into the requirements of the European Theater, it’s been an excellent opportunity to provide feedback to the Army Modernization Enterprise on what is effective at this point in our transition to a fully multi-domain force."
Integration across domains: Information, Systems and Technology
The 2nd Multi-Domain Effects Battalion, 2nd Multi-Domain Task Force, and contractors operated multiple Unmanned Aerial Surveillance systems (UAS), launched effects, and Aerostats (to include an un-manned platform) during Arcane Thunder 23 in Ustka, Poland. They trained on and validated a multitude of sensors and platforms, demonstrating the capability to maneuver in multiple domains simultaneously. Advanced data analysis and open architecture common operating tools provided a real-time fusion of information and realistic feedback to inform today's formations and equip them with the agility to adapt to future modern battlefield formations.
"As the 2nd MDTF continues to move forward and conduct training of lethal and non-lethal capabilities in this complex environment, we will integrate more partners and NATO countries to see our capabilities and learn how the task force can support our allies and the European theater," Colonel Patrick Moffett, 2nd Multi-Domain Task Force, Commander.
Weapon Systems: HIMARS Rapid Infiltration (HI-RAIN) Simulation
Conducting their first High Mobility Artillery Rocket System Rapid Infiltration HI-RAIN simulation training in Europe, the AT23 Exercise delivered opportunities to increase interoperability and sustain readiness for the 3rd Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, C- Battery.
HI-RAIN training simulates the deployment of the weapon system in a theater scenario. Soldiers then complete a series of repetitions to practice minimizing the opportunity for enemy detection and counter-fire missions against the system.
The U.S. Army coordinated with the 37th Airlift Squadron, 86th Airlift Wing, to fly two High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) in two C-130 Hercules aircrafts from Ramstein Air Force Base to Mihail Kogălniceanu, Air Force Base.
Two 3-27 FAR HIMARS launcher crews simulated rapid-fire missions, which involved acting as if the units were firing, reloading, detecting enemy targets, and departing their firing location before detection.
"As a leader I was deeply impressed by my Soldiers' technical proficiencies and exceptional conduct during the mission. Their commitment to the task at hand was remarkable," said Capt. Rochelle Stewart, Charlie Battery, 327 Field Artillery, Commander
Multi-Domain Operations Training Exercises: Arcane Thunder 23’s Competitive Edge
To maintain a competitive edge, the ability to fight and win on future battlefields depends heavily on continuous modernization and validation of new technologies and formations.
The Arcane Thunder 23 exercise validated the Army's ability to solve problems in complex and uncertain environments and quickly and efficiently leverage information and data on a large scale to achieve overmatch against our adversaries. It has also enhanced the 56th Artillery Command and 2nd Multi-Domain Task Force’s ability to execute operations supporting the National Defense Strategy.
The Arcane Thunder 23 exercise has provided a glimpse into the future of multinational modernized multi-domain operations training, paving the way for realizing the Army's long-term vision for 2030 and beyond.
The 56th Artillery Command plans and coordinates the employment of multi-domain fires and effects supporting U.S. Army Europe and Africa and/or a Combined Joint Force Land Component Command. The Theater Fires Command improves readiness and multinational interoperability by integrating joint and multinational fires in theater operations and exercises.
To learn more about the 56th Artillery Command (56th AC), 2nd Multi-Domain Taskforce (2d MDTF) and the 19th Battlefield Coordination Detachment (BCD) visit: