In the effort of joining forces to win the same fight, Airmen from the 682
Air Support Operations Squadron and Soldiers from 3
Field Artillery Regiment, 18
Fires Brigade, 82
Airborne Division, participated in joint training at 18 Fires Brigade Sept. 3 to 5.
The training, focusing on combining computer systems to digitally enhance their fighting capabilities is a slow process, but one that Sgt. 1st Class Joseph L. Barcus, senior fire direction control Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd. Bn., 321st FAR is excited to see.
“We started (our combined training) over a month ago in our field exercise. We want to be able to talk to any of our systems on the network regardless of whether we are deployed downrange or here on Fort Bragg,” said Barcus.
Barcus went on to say that combining networks will give a commander another option on how to use his forces on the battlefield.
The system Barcus and his Soldier use is the AFATDS (Army field artillery tactical data system), which gives a more concise picture of possible enemy locations from multiple outlets.
“The ultimate, big picture is having our systems work together to use for fire missions and get information to our guys on the ground,” said Barcus.
Combining training with the Air Force was something Barcus hasn’t done before and was excited to see the new features to training he already has.
“Everything went well. We are working towards the same goal. With the Air Force guys, we are working to get missions up to their fix wing (aircraft), something I’ve never done before.”
Air Force Capt. Robert Lee, is the flight commander for the 682
Air Support Operations Squadron. Lee, like Barcus is excited to bring something to the training to build towards a sustained interdependence future.
“We’re bringing the air picture to the mission. Success means that we are integrating successfully and effectively,” said Lee. “The Army has their artillery that they’re firing and they have UAS (unmanned aerial support) and rotary wings at a lower level.”
As with any type of joint training, it takes time to get used to being around each other, said Lee. He also admits that it is exciting to see where this is heading in the future.
“There was a lot of being patient with each other, understanding each systems and being able to learn what the other guys bring to the fight. Our guys taught our systems and learned from what they have as well. We are looking to continue the integrated training further down the line,” said Lee.
Lt. Col. Rich Collins, commander of the 682
said he was impressed with how the training went and he understands how much the Army and Air Force depend on each other to get the job done.
“We do very well as in-service training to train to the equipment that we have.
“So you have to plug your equipment in and people have to know how to use it and make it happen to see its capabilities. The point of the exercise was to get our systems together and get them talking to realize their full capabilities to give our commanders better situational awareness,” said Collins.
Collins added that with the advancement of technology these days, you can lose sight of new equipment. So it’s important that if the Army moves forward with their AFATDS, the Air Force gets to the same level with their equipment to talk on the same systems.
Collins said he sees the importance of the trainings and is helping to build towards a combined training future.
“The big picture is we move back to garrison training and less of being in a cycle to spin up and move out to Afghanistan. As you get to (annual) training, we’ll get a higher readiness level. Especially with a JOAX (joint operational exercise), we can say these are the systems we have, these are the people we’re fighting with. It’s to help shorten the kill chain and give the commander more situational awareness and more ways to engage the target, said Collins”
As training moves on towards more joint operations, it looks like the systems, as well as servicemembers, are getting linked up and will need to continue to talk to one another.