SAGAMIHARA, Japan – In a U.S. unilateral training exercise, air defense, fires, aviation and maritime elements merged proficiencies to enhance readiness in the Pacific Region.
The 38th Air Defense Artillery Brigade partnered with 17th Field Artillery Brigade, U.S. Army Aviation Battalion-Japan, and U.S. Navy HSM-51 Maritime Strike Squadron, aligned communication capabilities through the use of the Link 16 cyber domain on Sagami General Depot, Sept. 9-21.
“Link 16 is a joint data communication that provides the end user with connectivity to other forces,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Keon Ellison, interface control officer, 38th ADA Brigade. “It provides targeting data, air track data. Basically, it provides input into the common operational picture or the air picture that allows the unit to see where everything is and see where other players are on the battlefield.”
The 17th FAB served as the multi-domain task force headquarters for the training event.
“Helping operations was the participation of the 38th ADA Brigade granting access to equipment that we don't organically have in the 17th FAB,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Christopher W. Coker, command and control systems integrator, 17th FAB. “With the use of Link 16, as well as assets such as the MH-60 (Sea Hawk Helicopters) from the U.S. Navy and UH-60L (Black Hawk Helicopters) from U.S. Army Aviation Battalion-Japan, all of those entities coming together, helped us validate and further test what we can actually accomplish as a multi-domain task force.”
Participants sought to increase interoperability and prove that they could share targeting information and sensor information to lethal systems and mission command nodes across the Link 16 network for commanders to make real-time immediate decisions.
“It takes all the domains: air, cyber, and ground, and brings them together into one task force,” said Lt. Col. John Franz, U.S. Army Aviation Battalion-Japan commander. “The task force commander has multi-domain assets scattered across the battlefield in a distributed fashion. The air component provides lethal fires and reconnaissance to that air domain for situational awareness and also protects distributed assets.”
The exercise offered a collaborative approach to address the complexities of joint operations and enhances ‘Fight Tonight’ unit readiness.
“The training was challenging because when we talk about joint partners and multi-service operations, there’s always a little bit of colloquialism that goes along with that,” said Franz. “We had to break through some of those barriers, simple things like frequency exchanges and terminology, to make the training much more effective.”
Link 16 allows the exchange of voice and data needed to build a common operating picture and provide effective mission command.
“Multi-domain operations are about punching a hole in the enemies’ defenses to rapidly exploit that hole and then go back to that defense,” said Franz. “That helps our partners and allies here in Japan and other services to be able to bring their assets to the fight and to be able to conduct operations with the Army in order to seamlessly show… that we can go attack the enemy and then go back to the defense.”