ADA and USAF clear the air.
An exercise that began as a way for one battery of the 6th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery (6-52 ADA) (Patriot), Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to test its mobility to Tinker Air Force Base (AFB), Oklahoma, and share some capabilities briefings between the Army and the Air Force--grew into a complex, two-week joint exercise. The exercise expanded to include all 6-52 ADA units and support from the Air Force's Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) and two units from Tinker AFB.
The joint exercise took place at Fort Sill's Forward Operating Base (FOB) Hamilton and Tinker AFB's Glenwood Training Area. This article outlines the lessons learned that benefit future exercises, actual in-theater joint missions and both Services.
New Objectives. The exercise's expansion began during initial talks to arrange the original visit between 6-52 ADA, the 552nd Air Control Wing (552 ACW) and the 3rd Combat Communications Group (3 CCG) at Tinker AFB.
The resulting joint exercise objectives included establishing data and voice connectivity via radio from Fort Sill to Tinker AFB, accessing the Link 16 network via the AWACS, developing a relationship between Tinker AFB and Fort Sill's growing ADA community and familiarizing selected Soldiers and Airmen on each others' equipment and capabilities. The 6-52 ADA also trained on Warrior Tasks and Drills during the exercise. Establishing a joint memorandum of understanding to support joint exercises between the Army and Air Force on a semiannual basis was another important goal.
Mobility. At the beginning of the exercise, A Battery, 6-52 ADA (A/6-52 ADA), tested its mobility by moving its Patriot fire control section, six launchers and additional support equipment--for a total of 29 vehicles--to Tinker AFB, while Headquarters and Headquarters Battery (HHB/6-52) section and the E/6-52 Maintenance Company were direct support. B/6-2 and C-6/52 at Fort Sill swapped places with A/6-52 at Tinker AFB during the second week, further testing the Patriot units' mobility.
Careful planning ensured the exercise succeeded. For example, E/6-52 Maintenance Company quickly repaired the one vehicle that broke down on the highway during the move to Tinker AFB validating its recovery standing operating procedures.
Connectivity. Within the first two days of the exercise, Airmen from the 31st Combat Communications Squadron (31 CCS) traveled to FOB Hamilton to set up an AN/TRC-170 (V2) tropospheric-scatter (TROPO) radio communications system while other 31 CCS Airmen set up an identical TROPO system at Glenwood Training Area.
TROPO Radio. TROPO radio, which can bounce radio waves off the atmosphere, can be used to connect two units separated by a long distance, when line-of-sight communication is interrupted by a manmade or natural object or when satellite service is unavailable.
Soldiers and Airmen had to use untested methods to establish the link between Patriot and TROPO radios because 6-52 ADA discovered that the documented procedures to establish this vital communications link were incomplete. The two documents concerning connectivity to the TROPO radio--Field Manual (FM) 3-01.87 Patriot Tactics, Techniques and Procedures and the Patriot Communication Planner's Handbook--contain only about three paragraphs outlining the procedures. This exercise alerted the Patriot community of the need to develop, test and, eventually, implement procedures linking Patriot and TROPO radios for future missions.
Once linked, the connectivity via TROPO radio allowed the Patriot forces to simulate a real-world scenario involving great distances between units. All four ADA batteries performed troop proficiency trainer and live-aircraft trainer software programs, simulating air battles between FOB Hamilton and Glenwood Training Area.
Link 16 Network. The Link 16 network enables access to an air picture of a theater of operations, providing excellent situational awareness to the commander and near-real-time data to the shooter to facilitate precise fires in a timely manner. The link provides near-real-time track data from the Patriot and the AWACS radars. The link is a high-speed information-exchange network design with time-division multiple-user access, allowing multiple users to transmit and receive track information at 64 kilobytes per second.
Because of its extended line-of-sight once it reaches cruising altitude, the AWACS is excellent as a relay platform for the Link 16 network. Using AWACS as a relay platform, the Patriot battalion could provide track data to the Patriot battery command post (CP) located beyond line-of-sight. This allowed the battery CP operator to help the engagement control station operator correlate and identify the track data--as seen by both the AWACS' and Patriot batteries' radars--training to prevent fratricide on a battlefield.
The Patriot battalion's fires direction center or information and coordination central (ICC) at Tinker AFB received the local tracks from the fire units using the Patriot digital information link. The ICC then transmitted those tracks via the Link 16 network to the local battery CPs and the AWACS. The AWACS, in turn, relayed that data to the ADA fire units at Fort Sill.
The 552 ACW made numerous AWACS orbits throughout the duration of this exercise, and this support enabled ADA to establish Link 16 connectivity with the AWACS and pass "real-time" tracks between the AWACS radar and Patriot radars. ADA also verified that the AWACS can detect our simulated tracks simultaneously, allowing ADA to fight a joint air battle with the AWACS serving as the controlling authority
Joint Capabilities. 6-52 ADA coordinated for select personnel to attend a familiarization flight onboard the AWACS. This opportunity allowed Patriot Soldiers to gain an understanding of the AWACS' capabilities and limitations in respect to air battle management. In turn, the Patriot Soldiers onboard the AWACS shared Patriot-specific information with the AWACS crew.
Two 31st ADA Brigade ADA fire control officers (ADAFCOs) were assigned to the AWACS flights to brief the crew and to act as "interpreters," resolving any miscommunications between the two Services on the AWACS. This was a realistic scenario because, during actual combat, AWACS may be the controlling authority and an ADAFCO would be the liaison between the two Services who coordinates fires and facilitates track identification thus preventing fratricide.
Joint Lessons Learned. All the joint exercise's training objectives were met, but the most important result was the relationship established between Tinker AFB and the Fort Sill's ADA community.
A joint after-action review captured the lessons learned. In addition to the discovery that ADA TROPO radio documentation needs to be updated, three other main lessons were learned.
1. Although 6-52 ADA had authorization to radiate at certain frequencies locally, it found frequency management statewide or at another installation may require additional authorizations. The 6-52 ADA is developing a standard operating procedure to follow for future frequency management requests based on state and national procedures.
2. Service-related "language" inhibited establishing the Link 16 communications during the exercise because parameters for establishing and sustaining the link between AWACS and Patriot units were not identified initially. Either a pre-exercise meeting between the Link 16 experts and AWACS crewmembers to clarify link parameters or having direct-voice communication between the ICC and AWACS would have helped troubleshoot the Link 16 connection.
Once identified as an issue, an Air Force link expert acted as an "interpreter" between the ICC and AWACS crews to troubleshoot the link establishment, while the ADAFCO performed the same function on the AWACS. Before the next joint exercise, link experts from both Services will build a plan to test and execute satellite communications as a primary means of communications, using UHF as a back-up.
3. The 6-52 ADA found that, in addition to some Patriot crewmembers, some AWACS crewmembers can perform the necessary tabular entries to setup scripted mock scenarios for the exercise. In the future, they can work together to create an air battle scenario that will challenge both Patriot and AWACS crews.
The Way Ahead. In the near future, 6-52 ADA plans to conduct another joint exercise with Tinker AFB units, synchronizing AWACS orbits over Fort Sill ADA forces. During these orbits, the AWACS will control real fighter aircraft trying to jam Patriot radars. This training will allow the pilots to hone their jamming skills and simultaneously allow Patriot operators to practice jamming countermeasures.
ADA inherently is joint, constantly integrating with other Services' communications and weapons systems based upon the Patriot units' strategic theater missile defense missions. Conducting this exercise with Tinker AFB units gave 6-52 ADA a "taste" of what is required to execute joint operations. The joint exercise created new understanding between the two Services' on their respective capabilities and limitations and led to the development of a common "language" that will help in future exercises and, ultimately, in theater missions.
By Major Lisa M. Bartel, Chief Warrant Officer Three David V. Jones, Chief Warrant Officer Two Christopher C. Ridenour and Lieutenant Colonel Artice Scott, all AD
Major Lisa M. Bartel, Air Defense (AD), is the S3 for 6th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery (6-52 ADA) (Patriot) at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. She was the Operations Officer for the Extended Air Defense Task Force in Burbach, Germany; and a Theater Missile Defense Battle Captain at the Combined Air Operations Center at Eskisehir, Turkey, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). She has an MA in Leadership, Management and Defense Studies from the National University of Ireland at Maynooth.
Chief Warrant Officer Three David V. Jones, AD, is the Battalion Electronic Missile Maintenance Officer for 6-52 ADA. He served as the Battalion Maintenance Officer and the Battery Patriot System Tactician/Technician for E Battery, 6-52 ADA (E/6-52 ADA) in Ansbach, Germany; a Battery Patriot System Tactician/Technician for D/1-1 ADA at Fort Bliss, Texas, deploying in support of OIF; and Patriot Missile Crewmember for E/2-7 ADA at Fort Bliss deploying in support of Operation Desert Shield.
Chief Warrant Officer Two Christopher C. Ridenour, AD, is the Air Defense Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (ADC4I) Systems Integrator for 6-52 ADA. He served as the ADC4I Systems Integrator for 3-2 ADA; and the ADC4I NCOIC for 1-1 ADA, both at Fort Bliss, Texas.
Lieutenant Colonel Artice Scott, AD, is the Commander of 6-52 ADA. He served as the Deputy Commanding Officer of 69th ADA Brigade in Germany; the Executive Officer for 1-4 ADA, deploying in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom; and the Division Air Defense Officer for the 1st Armored Division, deploying to Kosovo as the Kosovo Force Liaison Officer for MultiNational Brigade (East).