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1 Apr 03. The first-ever Stryker Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Lewis, Wash., is not only demonstrating how rapidly it can deploy, it’s showing the value of speedy digital information.

The “digital bridge,” which was designed last year, provides SBCT units with information via satellites instead of the usual line-of-sight radios. With this system, vital information and pictures can be transmitted to units on the ground from anywhere in the world.

The SBCT is now participating in an exercise at the National Training Center, April 1-11, as the first phase of its Operational Evaluation, designed to certify the unit as combat ready. The OE will culminate with an exercise at Fort Polk, La., May 17-27.

“The digital bridge complements the SBCT’s extensive computerization, plus it allows the SBCT to connect to any system,” said Maj. Brian Edholm, digital bridge executive officer.

“The digital bridge allows the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division to see a real-time picture of the battlefield, and it’s evolving still because the SBCT is still in a testing phase,” said Chief Warrant Officer Ronald Carrasquillo, 29th Signal Battalion network manager.

The system is made up of several central nodes, that transmit information into the main hub. The hub, in turn, transmits information digitally to the commanders on the battlefield and the tactical operation center.

“It’s interesting because we’re trying to use the old equipment with newer technology,” said Sgt. Luis Robles, Node center chief, 29th Signal Battalion.

The bridge gives these planners a few advantages, including showing the movement of friendly and enemy soldiers and allowing information to be transmitted between the commands very quickly.

“This SBCT exercise will allow us to use our mobility,” Robles said.
It will also mark the first time the digital bridge will test several pieces of equipment at the same time.

“Before, we’ve been able to test them one thing at a time,” Edholm said.
Edholm added that soldiers involved with the digital bridge are very excited about their role in the first-ever SBCT exercise.

“They’ve been executing very well,” Edholm said. “They are always training and have been waiting to perform out here.”

“I’m happy to be here,” Robles said. “I enjoy this stuff because it’s all about combat.”

Comment: The increasing use of satcom systems over conventional line-of-sight radios is a growing trend in systems development. We reported in ‘BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.5 ISSUE 9 March 1st 2003, ‘NORTHROP GRUMMAN SUPPLIES BRITISH ARMY WITH FBCB2 BFT’ and in our BATTLESPACE MILITARY VEHICLE NEWS Vol. 2 Issue 2 April 1st 2003, NEW MOVEMENT TRACKING SYSTEM INSTALLED IN KUWAIT, both detailing systems using satcom not radio. Satcom gives the user a more flexible approach and does away with the cumbersome set-up time for radio systems which takes time and manpower during fast moving engagements.

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