The Army’s future fight: Maximizing 2nd Multi-Domain Task Force’s unprecedented Arcane Thunder 23 exercise

By Maj. Jacqwayne GriffinSeptember 7, 2023

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Multinational Forces pose for a group photo during Exercise Arcane Thunder 23’s Distinguished Visitors Day on Capu Midia Training Center, Romania, Sept. 6, 2023. (Photo Credit: (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Spc. Devin McReynolds)) VIEW ORIGINAL

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.

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U.S. Army, French Armed Forces, and Romania Land Forces soldiers stand in formation during the Exercise Arcane Thunder 23 opening ceremony at Capu Midia Training Center, Romania, Aug. 30, 2023. (Photo Credit: (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Spc. Andrew Mendoza)) VIEW ORIGINAL
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French Armed Forces soldiers showcase a truck-mounted Caesar artillery system vehicle to U.S. Soldiers assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 18th Field Artillery Brigade, for Exercise Arcane Thunder 23 on Capu Midia Training Center, Romania, Aug. 30, 2023. (Photo Credit: (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Spc. Andrew Mendoza)) VIEW ORIGINAL
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U.S. and French soldiers assess simulated casualties during Exercise Arcane Thunder 23 tri-service medical training on Capu Midia Training Center, Romania, Sept. 1, 2023. (Photo Credit: (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Sgt. Brendon Green-Daring)) VIEW ORIGINAL
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U.S. Army Spc. Zoe Festge, left, a combat lifesaver instructor with the 2nd Multi-Domain Task Force, applies pressure to a simulated leg injury alongside Romania's 84th Target Acquisition Battalion and France's 68th Regiment D’Artillerie D’Afrique soldiers during Exercise Arcane Thunder 23 tri-service medical training on Capu Midia Training Center, Romania, Sep. 1, 2023. (Photo Credit: (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Sgt. Brendon Green-Daring)) VIEW ORIGINAL
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U.S. Soldiers assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 18th Field Artillery Brigade, French Armed Forces, and Romanian Land Forces conduct live fire training during Exercise Arcane Thunder 23 on Capu Midia Training Center, Romania, Sept. 2, 2023. (Photo Credit: (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Spc. Andrew Mendoza)) VIEW ORIGINAL
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From left, Romanian Land Forces Sgt. Ioana Afrig, Pfc. Florin Trifan with 84th Target Acquisition Battalion and U.S. Army Capt. Andrew Beattie, a medical operations instructor with the 2nd Multi-Domain Task Force, conduct PKM machine gun weapon clearing procedures during Exercise Arcane Thunder 2023 at Capu Midia Training Center, Romania, Sept. 2, 2023. (Photo Credit: (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Spc. Andrew Mendoza)) VIEW ORIGINAL
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From left, Romania Col. Daniel Condruz, 8th Brigade Tactical Operational Missiles commander, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Andrew C. Gainey, 56th Artillery Command commanding general, Command Sgt. Maj. Darrell Walls, 56th Artillery Command senior enlisted advisor, and France Army Brig. Gen. Loïc Girard, senior representative to Romania, speak at exercise Arcane Thunder 23 distinguished visitor day. (Photo Credit: (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Maj. Catalina Carrasco) ) VIEW ORIGINAL
U.S., France and Romania military senior leaders listen to a brief by a Romanian soldier during exercise Arcane Thunder 23 distinguished visitor day.
U.S., France and Romania military senior leaders listen to a brief by a Romanian soldier during exercise Arcane Thunder 23 distinguished visitor day.
(Photo Credit: (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Maj. Catalina Carrasco) )
VIEW ORIGINAL
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From right, U.S Brig. Gen. Andrew Gainey, 56th Artillery Command commander, Col. Patrick Moffett, 2nd Multi-Domain Task Force commander, and partner forces listen to a briefing during Exercise Arcane Thunder 23 on Capu Midia Training Center, Romania, Sept. 6, 2023. (Photo Credit: (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Spc. Devin McReynolds)) VIEW ORIGINAL
"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."
 Arcane Thunder/Project Convergence-Europe (PC-E).
Arcane Thunder/Project Convergence-Europe (PC-E). (Photo Credit: Arcane Thunder/Project Convergence-Europe) VIEW ORIGINAL

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.
U.S. Army Soldiers with the Electromagnetic Activities Company, 2 Multi-Domain Task Force, operate an aerostat during exercise Arcane Thunder in Ustka, Poland Aug. 29. Soldiers were trained in the planning of aerostat operations, launch operations, and recovery actions to inform new tactics to enable multi-domain concepts.
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Soldiers with the Electromagnetic Activities Company, 2 Multi-Domain Task Force, operate an aerostat during exercise Arcane Thunder in Ustka, Poland Aug. 29. Soldiers were trained in the planning of aerostat operations, launch operations, and recovery actions to inform new tactics to enable multi-domain concepts. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Alex Soliday) VIEW ORIGINAL
U.S. Army Soldiers with the Electromagnetic Activities Company, 2nd Multi-Domain Task Force, and contractors operate an unmanned aerial surveillance system during exercise Arcane Thunder in Ustka, Poland Aug. 29. Soldiers were trained in the planning of Aerostat operations, launch operations, and recovery actions to inform new tactics to enable multi-domain concepts.
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Soldiers with the Electromagnetic Activities Company, 2nd Multi-Domain Task Force, and contractors operate an unmanned aerial surveillance system during exercise Arcane Thunder in Ustka, Poland Aug. 29. Soldiers were trained in the planning of Aerostat operations, launch operations, and recovery actions to inform new tactics to enable multi-domain concepts. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Alex Soliday) VIEW ORIGINAL
Contractors attached with the 2nd Multi-Domain Task Force, carry an aerial surveillance system after operating during exercise Arcane Thunder in Ustka, Poland Aug. 29. Soldiers were trained in the planning of Aerostat operations, launch operations, and recovery actions to inform new tactics to enable multi-domain concepts
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Contractors attached with the 2nd Multi-Domain Task Force, carry an aerial surveillance system after operating during exercise Arcane Thunder in Ustka, Poland Aug. 29. Soldiers were trained in the planning of Aerostat operations, launch operations, and recovery actions to inform new tactics to enable multi-domain concepts (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Alex Soliday) VIEW ORIGINAL

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
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1 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules carrying a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System vehicle lands as part of the HIMARS Rapid Simulation during Execise Arcane Thunder 23, at Mihail Kogălniceanu Air Base, Romania, Sept. 4, 2023 (Photo Credit: U.S. Army Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Erick Yates) VIEW ORIGINAL
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2 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A U.S. Soldier assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 18th Field Artillery Brigade, sits in the main control position of a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System vehicle in preparation for a HIMARS Rapid Simulation, during Arcane Thunder 23 at Mihail Kogălniceanu Air Base, Romania, Sept. 4, 2023. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Erick Yates) VIEW ORIGINAL
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3 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Warrant Officer Casey Ramos, with 3rd Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 18th Field Artillery Brigade, ground guides a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System vehicle off the runway as part of a HIMARS Rapid Simulation, during an exercise Arcane Thunder 23 at Mihail Kogălniceanu Air Base, Romania, Sept. 4, 2023. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Erick Yates) VIEW ORIGINAL
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4 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Airmen with the 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, guide a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System vehicle as it decends from a C-130 Herucles, as part of the HIMARS Rapid Simulation during Arcane Thunder 23, at Mihail Kogălniceanu Air Base, Romania, Sept. 4, 2023. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Erick Yates) VIEW ORIGINAL
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5 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Airmen load a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System vehicle on C-130 Hercules as part of a HIMARS Rapid Simulation, during exercise Arcane Thunder 23 at Mihail Kogălniceanu Air Base, Romania, Sept. 4, 2023 (Photo Credit: U.S. Army Reserve photo by Staff Sgt. Erick Yates) VIEW ORIGINAL

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.

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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:

Website: https://www.56ac.army.mil/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/USArmy56AC

Twitter: https://twitter.com/56ArtilleryCmd