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Brigade Combat Team Integration Exercise.

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DURING the Brigade Combat Team Integration Exercise--a demonstration that took place in July 2010 at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., and Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.--a team of Soldiers, engineers and Army senior leaders experienced the future of the integrated network. In particular, they actualized the concept of using unmanned aircraft and integrated Soldier Network Extensions to connect Soldiers at all echelons of the brigade combat team.

Using White Sands as a stand-in for the harsh terrain of Afghanistan, the Army Evaluation Task Force navigated improvised explosive device routes, executed air assaults and simulated a variety of other missions.

Scattered throughout the far-flung mountains and deserts of Afghanistan, Soldiers are increasingly reliant upon the Army's tactical network to gain a decisive edge over the enemy.

Fortunately, the network is getting smarter.

With a Rifleman Radio attached to each of its wingtips, the Shadow unmanned aircraft system--which can fly for six hours and reach a ceiling of nearly 15,000 feet--allowed two Rifleman Radio networks on the ground to communicate beyond line of sight. That meant individual Soldiers in separate companies could successfully pass messages without seeing one another--something that's currently not possible below the battalion level.

For the first time, three separate waveforms were integrated, connecting the lowest to the highest echelons. They included the Soldier Radio Waveform, used by individual Soldiers or teams within a company; the Wideband Network Waveform, used to share tactical data at higher echelons; and the Network Centric Waveform, a satellite layer.

At White Sands, the Soldiers within a company could seamlessly communicate with their own platoons and even with other Soldiers at the battalion level. Inside their command posts, company commanders exchanged text messages and e-mails, tracked simulated IEDs, collaborated on the battle with Command Post of the Future, and planned fires with the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System. They tracked automatically populated friendly forces' movements and manually added enemy and hazard locations with Force XXI Battle Command, Brigade-and-Below, or FBCB2.

The BCTIE is expected to be the first of several exercises as technology continues to evolve.

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--Claire Heininger/PEO Command Control Communications-Tactical

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Author:Heininger, Claire
Publication:Soldiers Magazine
Geographic Code:1U8NM
Date:Jan 1, 2011
Words:355
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