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I Have Your Six, Friendly-Force Tracking
by U.S. Army Spc. Aura Sklenicka - November 2, 2015

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FORT BLISS, Texas - When seeking to complete a mission and defending coalition “friendlies” from the enemy, a Soldier is a Soldier, regardless of their country.

Bold Quest, an ongoing mission since 2003, focuses on communication interoperability between multinational forces. The intent is to improve relationships and joint abilities from a tactical and technical perspective.

The friendly-force tracking portion of Bold Quest 15.2 has linked with Network Integration Evaluation 16.1, integrating 1st Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, with platoons from the Canadian Army's Royal Regina Rifles, and the Royal Danish Army.

Sgt. Michael Engracio, team leader, Company B, 1st Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, directs his team during a Bold Quest mission, Sept. 28, 2015, in the training village of Kamal Jabour, Fort Bliss, Texas. Bold Quest is a multinational mission linking international armies for training with the intent of testing communication capabilities. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Aura Sklenicka)
Sgt. Michael Engracio, team leader, Company B, 1st Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, directs his team during a Bold Quest mission, Sept. 28, 2015, in the training village of Kamal Jabour, Fort Bliss, Texas. Bold Quest is a multinational mission linking international armies for training with the intent of testing communication capabilities. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Aura Sklenicka)

“Any time we have the opportunity to conduct exercises like this it increases our ability to reduce the learning curve during combat operations,” said Maj. Richard Mendenhall, operations officer, 1-37.

Planning for the joint-forces exercises began the end of June and has continued to develop day to day. Pinpointing roles, equipment and objectives for each nation involved were the largest proponents in finalizing this particular mission.

Each day the joint force will have a different fire support asset that will be provided by a different country to the platoon leader, as in the forward observer role, said Mendenhall.

The chosen platoon's tactical missions allow for assessing the friendly force tracking devices, or use of the in-user device for Nett Warrior and the Edge device, testing interoperability between two devices and three partner services as they conduct platoon tasks. This is just one small part of the larger operation, with events ongoing in the area during NIE 16.1.

Soldiers with the Royal Regina Rifles had the most time to prepare with 1-37, arriving just a week prior to beginning tactical missions, they were able to conduct team-building exercises among the two platoons. The majority of the Royal Danish Army Soldiers arrived just days prior to the initial field operation.

“Get over jet-lag and integrate as fast as possible,” Mendenhall added. “That's the nature of the business we're in.”

With diverse types of munitions and the type of weapon system the Canadian and Danish forces have, the American force emphasized ensuring they understood the graphics on the maps. Upon arrival, 1-37 provided a welcome packet for reference.

Sgt. Michael Engracio, team leader, Co. B., 1-37, 2/1, said that at the beginning of the week it was a bit shaky integrating all three teams, especially overcoming a slight language barrier with the Royal Danish Army.

“This is excellent tactical training and an opportunity to expand a Soldier's cultural awareness,” said Engracio. “For example, the Canadians don't follow the American's wedge formation, they do a triple stack and the Danish are more methodical in their room breaching.”

All three forces noted communication as the most difficult aspect of their first mission, from technical difficulties to differences in how they utilize communication during a mission.

The Royal Danish Army coordinated everything in detail through the radio, which created static, forcing them to adjust their tactics and fit in with the rest of the joint platoon.

The two communication systems were not synched until the raid was conducted, Oct. 2, so the ease of interoperability was not clear immediately.

Aside from having a larger screen and more cables than the American's Nett Warrior communication system, the Danish Edge technology is similar in its operating functions when utilized within a maneuver.

“They have different ways of doing things and radio communications,” said 2nd Lt. Jason D'Angona, Co. B., 1-37, “We're trying to get use to the way they move to get into position and what we're asking of them is definitely different.”

D'Angona noted a lot more radio chatter than American Soldiers are accustom but that the joint force was still like working like a platoon.

“The opportunity to do something like this... is a blessing,” D'Angona added.

The three nations dedicated hours of their first week together rehearsing maneuvers and communication techniques, before executing field missions. This time together allowed them to become comfortable with one another, making it a fun process.

“It's really good to learn because when my Soldiers become leaders they can take what they've learned and teach to their guys,” Engracio concluded.

“It's always interesting to see other nations perspective on combat,” said Birk Knudsen, squad leader, Royal Danish Army, “what they prioritize, their security, or how they're getting the enemy killed.”

Knudsen said within his unit, they look at what other units within the Danish Army are doing and what other units within NATO are doing to learn and not remain unilateral.

“I think it's important for all nations to see what other nations are doing so that they won't focus too much on one specific type of doctrine and to broaden their minds on other ways you can do things,” said Knudsen.

“We're all Soldiers and everyone knows how to kill,” Knudsen concluded. “So that thing we all have in common. We all have that realistic sense of how it is to be in a desert environment, clearing compounds and killing enemies, so that is the common factor for the guys here today.”

By U.S. Army Spc. Aura Sklenicka
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2015

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