HELEMANO MILITARY RESERVE, Hawaii –
A newly fielded ground satellite terminal that supports company-sized elements and remote forward operating bases is now smaller, lighter and easier to set up than its predecessor, aiding in the Army's push for a more expeditionary force.
"Our mission as an Expeditionary Signal Battalion (ESB) in the Pacific is to deploy on short notice anywhere within the course of the Pacific theater, which is over 50 percent of the globe," said Lt. Col. Mark Miles, commander for the 307th ESB. "These new terminals will make us lighter and faster to support that mission."
The Army fielded the upgraded Secure Internet Protocol Router/Non-secure Internet Protocol Router (SIPR/NIPR) Access Point satellite terminals, or SNAPs, in May to the 307th ESB, 516th Signal Brigade, which is co-located with the 311th Signal Command (Theater) based in Fort Shafter, Hawaii. New equipment training was conducted in June at Helemano Military Reservation, Hawaii.
The 307th ESB was the first fielding to support the Army Requirements Oversight Council decision of Oct. 2, 2012. This decision calls for hundreds of reset SNAPs and even smaller suitcase-sized Global Rapid Response Information Packages (GRRIPs) to be used as bridging capability until the respective heavy and light versions of the Army's Transportable Tactical Command Communications (T2C2) program are ready to begin fielding.
T2C2 is a new program of record that will provide robust voice and data communications in the early phases of joint operations and extend the network to the tactical edge during later operational phases. Its transportable satellite terminals will connect small company and team-sized elements to the high capacity Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) network.
"As the Army continues to incrementally improve its network, fielding these bridging solutions gets needed capability into the hands of these smaller units now, instead of several years down the road," said Lt. Col. Leonard Newman, product manager for Satellite Communications (SATCOM), assigned to the WIN-T program office, which manages the SNAPs and the T2C2 program. "The sooner we can increase unit agility and the ability to communicate from remote locations, the better. That is what the T2C2 bridging solutions are all about."
Soldiers from the 307th ESB said the newly fielded SNAPs will improve their unit's speed of deployment, an important factor given their unit's location and mission. The 307th needs to deploy as rapidly as possible when called to provide signal support for human assistant missions and natural disasters in the entire Pacific arena, or in support of other Army units that don't have their own communication equipment.
Legacy SNAPs fielded to Iraq and Afghanistan required nine transit cases to deploy, but the new SNAP bridging capability only requires five, and those cases are now 64 percent lighter than before.
"These terminals are quick and easy to setup, and there is little configuration for technicians to worry about; it's pretty much plug and play," said Staff Sgt. Jerrell Barber, B company, 307th ESB network operations.
The SNAP bridging capability can be used for early entry scenarios in new areas of operations as forces gradually build up the network, from small terminals such as GRRIPs that can jump with paratroopers from a plane, to the full blow WIN-T Increment 1 network capability that is flown in via larger aircraft. SNAPs can also make it easier and quicker for small units like companies to maneuver their command posts when they need to relocate and/or to support a Tactical Command Post scenario where a smaller networked element is located forward of the main command post.
"It can take up to a few days by the time you coordinate air transport for larger WIN-T assets; with the new SNAP we can drive it down to the airfield right now with a couple of people and we're ready to catch the next aircraft smoking out of here," said Sgt. 1St Class Lorence Werener, 307th ESB SATCOM NCO.
With the new easily transportable SNAP bridging capability, the Army is more flexible, efficient and effective, sending out right-sized units to support missions anywhere in the world.
"We as an Army fight on the network, every element has a requirement to be a part of the digital effort that enables our military, and the SNAP allows us to reach every single level, not just company, but platoon and section if needed," Miles said. "It's versatile; whether it's supporting five Soldiers on a really important mission in the middle of nowhere or 50 or more on a forward operating base, the SNAP is an appropriate means of support."