BAMBERG, Germany- Soldiers from the 504th Signal Company, 16th Special Troops Battalion, 16th Sustainment Brigade, conducted new equipment fielding and network training June 4 -- 22 on the Warfighter's Information Network -- Tactical (WIN-T).

The WIN-T is the Army's high speed, high-capacity communication network providing the backbone for interoperability of joint, coalition, commercial, and legacy networks. It allows Soldiers to communicate at-the-halt in any terrain. The system provides high-speed, high-capacity voice, data, and video communications, to allow an exchange of information from any source to be relayed successfully to other units. Simply put, WIN-T is highly mobile wireless communication on the battlefield.

For the past nine months, the company eagerly anticipated the fielding and upgrading of the next generation WIN-T. The current upgrade and equipment fielding is WIN-T Increment 1, which resides at the theater, corps, division, brigade, and battalion levels to provide interfaces for lower level systems and on the move Soldier platforms.

This fielding has been more than just another upgrade. The equipment was tested with blank configurations and settings, creating a great opportunity for both experienced and new Soldiers to build the network from beginning to end. Two instructors from Communications-Electronics Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. came to teach the Soldiers the new technology and demonstrate the differences from the previous system in order to make them proficient in their jobs.

The instruction was divided into two classes covering Joint Network Node and Command Post Node technologies which support brigade and battalion communication requirements in an austere environment. Both classes started with a basic architecture overview and component orientation where Soldiers learned about the functions of the new hardware pieces and how these upgrades mesh with the older equipment.

The training then moved into signal theory and flow of communication from the tips of the fingers on a keyboard or the voice of someone on a near end of a phone through the cables, switches, routers, encryption, over the satellite, and received on the distant end satellite and sent back out to the receiver's phone or computer.

With the JNN and CPN classes learning and refreshing their respective equipment and signal flow, the network quickly was coded and configured from scratch. By the second week both CPNs were 'talking' to each other and the JNN. During the second week, the network was set up completely from start to finish and disassembled each day for the operators to practice battle drills and proper procedures.

Soon the two classes were competing for the fastest time to set up and make phone calls. By the third week bugs and faults were purposely placed into the hardware, software, and configurations for operators to troubleshoot and correct. These errors in the network created a problem solving atmosphere to challenge the operators and test their understanding of the signal flow and architecture of the new WIN-T technology.

In the coming weeks the equipment will receive simulated war configurations, be re-configured, and have communication transmissions sent via satellite and line of sight to validate the networks capability and information integrity for voice, video, and data transmission. The Soldiers will cross-train beyond their specific job description to broaden their skills and insight into this network architecture.

"It is great to see what we are capable of and for me to learn new skills on equipment I would not traditionally work on based on my [military occupational specialty]," said Spc. Jamie Jenkins, a signal support systems specialist for the 504th Signal Co.

As technology continues to be ever-evolving and advancing, the Soldiers of the 504th Signal Co. said they are motivated and enthusiastic about challenging their minds and taking on the new warfighter's network.