Maj. Todd Klinzing-Donaldson
2nd ABCT

Photo by Maj. Todd Klinzing-Donaldson

3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, loaded and prepped one M1068 and one M1152A1 RETRANS HMMWV vehicle as part of the initial shipment on April 27, 2021 to Taunton, Massachusetts, the General Dynamics Mission Systems facility. This was completed for the design and installation of the Army’s pilot On-The-Move communications effort.

Spartans lead Army’s newest communications network effort

The 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, was selected in November 2020 to help the Army inform network design for armor formations. The Army’s network Capability Set 25 will focus on providing Armor Brigade Combat Teams with On-The-Move (OTM) modernized network communications technology.

The brigade will receive prototypes of several designs of the latest OTM communications gear and provide Army network developers and program managers with candid feedback on system integration, performance, ease of use and sustainability. Brigade Soldiers and leaders will participate in a series of pilot exercises Pilot exercises at Fort Stewart starting in October 2021. OTM uses both line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight configurations for network connectivity that will enable mobile command and control, video and data communications, and an instantaneous battlefield common operating picture.

Current capability set fielding focuses on infantry and Stryker formations. The ABCTs were not provided this capability set, forcing these lethal formations to establish a stationary command post if the commander desired the utilization of satellite communications.

For ABCT commanders, OTM is a game changer. It is the only communications transport capability the Army possesses to transmit the large amounts of information obtained on today’s battlefield.

The primary focus of the OTM pilot program is at the battalion level. The pilot seeks to enhance the ABCT’s ability to communicate, process date, enable mission command and increase situational awareness while simultaneously increasing mobility, survivability, and lethality. The capability will be critical in implementing the Army’s Multi-Domain Operations concept.

“I’m excited the Army is going to this system. It will increase efficiency for getting support elements and equipment into the fight,” said Staff Sgt. Cean Pemberton, the assistant operations Noncommissioned officer in 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 2nd ABCT, 3rd ID.

The 2nd ABCT will support the initial design and communications equipment installation by executing multiple shipments to the General Dynamics Mission Systems site located in Taunton, Massachusetts. General Dynamics Mission Systems is the technology integrator for the ABCT OTM pilot effort, working in close collaboration with the Army’s network developers to ensure ‘best of breed’ technology from across industry is applied to the pilot effort. The first shipment with the initial installment of vehicles shipped April 31, 2021. The second shipment of similar size shipped last week, and a final shipment is scheduled to move during the first week of June 2021.

Pemberton is also hopeful that the Operator New Equipment Training will afford all Soldiers the opportunity to train on the equipment as well. “If communication network Soldiers are taken out of the fight, we can continue to fight without being crippled.”

Operator New Equipment Training is currently scheduled for August to September 2021. All objectives and pilot testing initiatives are scheduled to be executed October through December 2021 with the brigade culminating a brigade level command post exercise. The program manager has executed direct leadership engagements at the battalion level and is receiving informative feedback to inform Capability Set 25 design decisions.

 “Modernization should be on the mind of every leader. While modernizing lethality is important, modernizing how we communicate carries just as much weight, if not more,” said 1st Lt. Thomas Allen, the battalion communication network officer for 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd ABCT, 3rd ID. “Having the most versatile communications platform integrated across multiple command posts will give the ABCT the needed edge to maintain its position as an effective fighting formation in great power competition.”