Army’s New, Proven Network Gear Heads to Afghanistan

Soldiers train with new communications systems at Fort Bliss in November.

Soldiers train with new communications systems at Fort Bliss in November. Defense Department

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Equipment was tested at Fort Bliss and White Sands.

One of the last Army ground combat units slated for deployment to Afghanistan, the 3rd  Brigade Combat Team,  101st Airborne Division, will head out next year with tactical communications gear tested and proven at semi-annual Network Integration Evaluation exercises conducted over the past three years at Fort Bliss, Texas, and White Sands Missile Range, N.M.

The network gear fielded to the 101st Airborne includes manpack Harris AN/PRC-117G radios, which can transmit voice and broadband data; the Warrior Information Network-Tactical increment 2, which can access communications satellites while on the move; and an advanced version of another satellite system, the Blue Force Tracking System, which identifies friendly and enemy forces on digital maps.

The gear also includes radios for individual soldiers, providing communications throughout the unit and reducing reliance on fixed infrastructure. “This becomes increasingly important as U.S. forces continue to draw down and carry out advise-and-assist missions with the Afghan National Security Forces, turning over many of their forward operating bases and other infrastructure and gradually losing fixed network locations,” the Army said.