By Edric Thompson, CERDEC Public AffairsFebruary 3, 2010
FORT MONMOUTH, N.J. - A U.S. Army research and development center partnered with a program executive office support team to provide critical training Jan. 22-24 on new technology for National Guard troops deploying to Afghanistan.
At the request of 1st Army East, the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center Warfighter Support Office and the Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications Tactical Northeast Regional Response Center trained the Vermont National Guard's 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team "Mountain" on the Global Rapid Response Information Package.
The GRRIP is a fully deployable communications center built over a secure satellite network. It is a small, mobile and relatively lightweight Secret Internet Protocol Router Network case capable of providing SIPRNET access for video conferencing, data and voice over satellite using the Broadband Global Area Network as well as through other network connections.
"This is essential for units like embedded training teams, human intelligence teams and other small units that do not have access to all the technology comforts of larger, well-established forward operating bases," said Troy Steward, military unit liaison for the CERDEC WSO.
The GRRIP systems have been deployed to Afghanistan, so it was critical that these Soldiers were trained prior to arriving in country to ensure that they would be operational and effective immediately, Steward said.
"It is extremely important for Soldiers to get some hands-on, face-to-face training with instructors and those who support the technology before they deploy and have to learn on the fly," he said.
Very few brigades in the Army have been trained on the GRRIP, and the 86th is the first National Guard Brigade to receive this training. 1st Army East had difficulties finding subject matter experts because the GRRIP is not part of a program of record so it has no formal Army support system, said Alex Nieves, lead engineer for the CERDEC WSO.
"Based on our relationship with them and the National Guard Bureau, 1st Army East enlisted us to help coordinate the training. We knew that the NRRC out of Fort Dix, N.J. managed the contract to support this item, so we began linking all the parties together to properly resource and execute the training," Nieves said.
The NRRC is a special projects office within PEO C3T that provides secured and unsecured communications options to Department of Defense and non-DoD users, including assets deployed in support of natural disasters, terrorist attacks or other incidents where communications services have been impacted. The center also provides technical support to deployed or mobile forces to resolve equipment operating issues, configuration issues or other issues that affect successful operation of remote communications equipment.
The team of CERDEC and NRRC engineers went to Camp Atterbury, Ind. to train more than 50 Soldiers from the Vermont National Guard on basic operations, level-one administration and troubleshooting.
"One of our guys was also able to answer a lot of questions the Soldiers had in regards to their deployment based on his experiences," said Nieves.
CERDEC WSO, which is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, worked with 1st Army East leadership to identify areas of support that CERDEC may be able to provide in Afghanistan.
The WSO serves as the conduit for communications and information between Warfighters and CERDEC engineers. The team is comprised of engineers, former Warfighters and active duty military. The office responds to requests for information and provides Warfighter-experienced feedback to the engineers and scientists creating or designing any of the technologies within the CERDEC directorates.
CERDEC WSO met with 1st Army East logistics and signals personnel at Ft. Meade, Md. in December.
"After we explained the missions and capabilities of WSO, CERDEC and RDECOM, they agreed that there were opportunities for synergy," Steward said.
The support was "off the charts," and a great cross-organization effort among the PEO NRRC, CERDEC Warfighter Support Office, 1st Army East and the 157th Infantry Training Support Brigade, said Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Cover, Headquarters and Headquarters Company 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Staff 6, non-commissioned officer in charge.
"The reaction time, enthusiasm and commitment on behalf of their team were truly commendable. Even in the midst of all the layers of coordination required to make the training happen, the effort resulted in flawless logistic requirements for our Soldiers," Cover said.
"The training itself was nothing less than superior. Without question, it was a benchmark event," he said.