For the first time, the Army fielded its high-capacity Terrestrial Transmission Line Of Sight Radio, known as TRILOS, to a brigade combat team -- the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.
The Army fielded TRILOS and several other expeditionary network modernization systems and prototypes to provide the mobility, network connectivity and signal path diversity needed for an armor formation.
"Our unit is the most deployed armored brigade combat team in the 18th Airborne Corps; we need equipment that is more mobile…that is smaller, lighter and faster," said Col. Michael Adams, former commander of the 1/3 ABCT. (Adams recently passed his command to Col. Trent Upton and transitioned to the 3rd ID Chief of Staff position).
"I need to get our network equipment to the fight as fast as possible, and once deployed, I need the network up and running to get the information I need so I can make informed decisions faster than the enemy." he said.
Originally, the TRILOS Radio was slated to be fielded to expeditionary signal battalions (ESB) only, but in January 2019 the Army reprioritized the basis of issue to include brigade combat teams. Later this summer, the Army plans to field TRILOS to its first Army National Guard unit -- the Florida ARNG 146th ESB.
TRILOS will replace the much larger legacy at-the-halt High Capacity Line Of Sight Radio, which is nearing end of life. The expeditionary transit case-based TRILOS Radio sets up more quickly and delivers a 12-fold increase in bandwidth and six-fold increase in range.
"We can push TRILOS out to different units, and they just plug it into their [tactical network] Command Post Nodes and get that high bandwidth connectivity," said Cpt. Brian Wright, network operations officer and acting S6 for the 1/3 ABCT. "At the end of the day, the TRILOS provides more capability and enhances readiness. And since the enemy knows that we rely very heavily on satellite, with TRILOS our services can connect through the local area network without having to go over a Satellite Transportable Terminal, which has lower bandwidth."
Pfc. Alyssa Hernandez, network system operator for the 1/3 ABCT, also noted the significance of TRILOS Radio in providing signal path diversity in congested and contested environments.
"It's important for commanders to have redundant forms of communications -- beyond-line-of-sight and line-of-sight -- so they have choices, alternative ways to get the information they need when they need it," she said.
During the TRILOS new equipment training, Hernandez and the other 1/3 ABCT Soldiers said that the system is also much easier and faster to set up, operate, and maintain. They completed training in a week, versus the roughly 16 weeks of training needed for the more complex legacy HCLOS system.
Along with the TRILOS Radio, the Army also fielded the 1/3 ABCT with additional expeditionary communications equipment, including network extension packages that enable coalition interoperability; the small form factor Modular Communication Node-Advanced Enclave for intelligence data sharing; and upgrades to the unit's Secure Wi-Fi and Global Broadcast Service that increase capability and ease of operation.
Project Manager Tactical Network, assigned to the Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications-Tactical, provided the new equipment training and fielding for this agile network tool suite in May, at Fort Stewart, Georgia. In September, the Army expects to begin fielding the unit with inflatable satellite terminals known as Transportable Tactical Command Communications, or T2C2.
The PM is also currently delivering "prototype" at-the-halt tactical network equipment to the 1/3 ABCT that will support two developmental operations efforts that the unit will pilot this summer. Soldier feedback from the pilots will inform capability and basis of issue decisions, enabling the Army to field the right mix of equipment across the force. The first pilot will inform decisions for the 5th Generation Technical Insertion (5th Gen TI), the next equipment refresh for the Army's at-the-halt tactical network transport equipment.
This upgrade is expected to reduce setup time, make the systems easier to operate and maintain and provide more computing power in a smaller footprint. These benefits are derived from new commercial-of-the-shelf hardware, software and virtualization technologies. The new network equipment will be deployed in transit cases with tow handles and wheels, versus permanent shelter integration, increasing maneuverability and operational flexibility.
The 1/3 ABCT will also pilot a new more agile and supportable version of the legacy at-the-halt Satellite Transportable Terminal, or STT. To maximize efficiencies, this potential solution would repurpose the legacy STT metal frame. The prototype baseband equipment is transit case-based versus permanently integrated onto the terminal as it is on the legacy STT. This more expeditionary solution enables Soldiers to either operate the equipment outside on the STT or move the transit cases inside and operate it in the command post alongside the rest of the unit.
The 1/3 ABCT will use its new expeditionary network equipment and prototypes during its training rotation at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, in early 2020. Following the rotation, the unit will provide additional feedback to inform continual system improvements and operation.
Adams said he believes the new gear will make his unit "more mobile and survivable."
"The sooner my commands can set up these network systems, get the information to me, and shut the systems back down, the better," Adams said. "The enemy may have located me with that [last] signal, so I need to be able to move as fast as possible."
The U.S. Army Project Manager Tactical Network is assigned to Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, which develops, acquires, fields and supports the Army's mission command network to ensure force readiness. This critical Army modernization priority delivers tactical communications so commanders and Soldiers can stay connected and informed at all times, even in the most austere and hostile environments. PEO C3T is delivering the network to regions around the globe, enabling high-speed, high-capacity voice, data and video communications to a user base that includes the Army's joint, coalition and other mission partners.