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Fort Drum’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team shows off new gear at training exercise

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FORT DRUM — The post’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team on Friday showed off the new communications technology it will use for a potential future deployment in Afghanistan.

The brigade’s Capability Set 13 communication technology, which it fielded in August, helps track soldier movements and increase connectivity in remote areas of places such as Afghanistan.

“I can be moving around the battlefield, and I could get all of my team leaders up on a conference call while we are moving so we can share all the information and share what we’re seeing in real time,” said Col. Samuel E. Whitehurst, the brigade’s commander.

In past deployments, he said, such information could take several hours or days to get from the field to brigade-level leadership.

The technology was displayed during a media event Friday as a part of the postwide Mountain Peak exercise.

In addition to seeing the new gear, software and vehicles, reporters toured the brigade’s tactical operations center and the ranges where combat drills were being planned.

The brigade is preparing to deploy later this year, though it has not received official orders.

Soldiers could be seen with smartphone-like devices attached to their uniforms. The apparatus can be used to send voice, text and email messages, along with photos, to senior leaders.

“It’s like the Garmin in your car, except you can text with it and see where everybody else is,” said Maj. Graham D. Wood, the brigade’s communications officer.

He said the technology gives soldiers an essentially limitless range whereas in the past, limited reception could negatively affect their movements.

The combined mobile satellite and radio technology also could prove helpful to American forces attached to Afghan military units as overall force levels are reduced during the next year.

“My ability to take the information that I’m hearing from my team leaders, share it with my Afghan partners, they can then correspondingly help confirm or deny that information and share what they’re seeing to me,” Col. Whitehurst said. “I think that’s one of the most critical things as we go forward into Afghanistan here over the next year.”

This week has seen the first full use of the technology, Col. Whitehurst said, after limited tests in the brigade’s motor pool and at the Spartan Peak exercise last month. The brigade is the second in the Army to use the gear since it was issued, after the 10th Mountain Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team, Fork Polk, La.

Brigade leaders have said the local training will help them get ready for a rotation this summer at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk.

The post’s Mountain Peak exercise runs until Wednesday.



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