Army flexes its signal power during exercise

Army flexes its signal power during exercise

The Army recently built one of its largest communications networks ever, linking 28 locations throughout the United States and Asia.

During Grecian Firebolt 2001, an Army signal exercise that concluded on June 30, active, reserve and National Guard units put together a system to carry voice, data and video to troops across the United States and in Puerto Rico, Japan and Korea. Soldiers used the network to coordinate logistics, personnel and medical training exercises.

'This is the largest signal exercise ever,' said Maj. Gen. George F. Bowman, commander of the 311th Theater Signal Command, a reserve unit based at Fort Meade, Md. The network, which connected 3,000 users, was larger than the system that coordinated operations for the Gulf War, he said.

'The communications system ' was designed to test and further develop the deployment of a combat global signal,' said Lt. Col. Thomas Lawracy, the plans division chief of the 311th. 'Signal Air National Guard units at San Pedro, Calif., allowed units in the United States to effectively communicate with units in Korea by utilizing the Defense Satellite Communication Systems and Defense Information System Network services.'

Signal forces based at Fort A.P. Hill, Va., coordinated the effort.

Everyone in the act

The Army conducts Grecian Firebolt signal exercises to integrate active and reserve units, said Master Sgt. John Ivins, a public affairs officer for the 311th. This year's effort was the service's most ambitious ever, he said.

The exercise employed four Defense satellite systems for the network's tactical satellite backbone architecture, Lawracy said. The systems connected users to both the Secret and Non-Classified IP router networks.

The transmission links that utilized the Defense Satellite Communication Systems provided encryption for messages sent through the networks.

The Army used the Multi-Media Communications System from Tamsco Corp. of Eatontown, N.J., to issue updates on personnel, global weather conditions and other logistics, Lawracy said.

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