MILITARY & VETERANS AFFAIRS
(16 July, 2009)
50th Gets New Comms
Photo and story by Tech. Sgt. Mark Olsen, NJDMAVA/PA
Chaplain's Assistant Xochi Risco, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, New Jersey Army National Guard, listens during training on the Harris PRC-117F Multiband Manpack Radio outside the National Guard Armory at Lawrenceville on July 15. Soldiers from the 50th underwent training on the new communications system from July 13-17.
Soldiers from the 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team are back to training again – this time with a new field radio system that will replace almost all of the existing Army field communications systems.
“Everyone is back from deployment so this was a good opportunity to get them trained up on the new equipment,” said Cranbury resident Capt. Tim Sorensen, Liaison Officer, 50th IBCT. “We just received the equipment so it is the first time we've cracked it out of the boxes.”
The 50th Soldiers are the first New Jersey Army National Guard troops to be trained on the AN/PRC-117F Multiband Manpack Radio. The week-long training took place at the National Guard Armory in Lawrenceville. The radio, which can be stored in a backpack, is designed for transmission of both voice and data traffic up to the top secret level.
The radios are already in use in both Iraq and Afghanistan where they provide battlefield communications security, satellite communications, electronic counter-countermeasure capabilities, and are interoperable with ground-to-air radios and long-range tactical satellite communications.
This means that New Jersey National Guard has a proven tool at its disposal if there is ever a natural or manmade disaster.
According to Chaplain's Assistant and Union City resident Pfc. Xochi Risco, while the new system weighs the same as the system it is replacing – the Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System, a combat net radio currently used by U.S. and allied military forces – it has more features and is more portable.
One the biggest differences is data entry; with the SINCGARS you had to take the radio off your back to enter new data.
“With this one the data entering device – a remove-able keypad – can be worn strapped to your wrist making the system more responsive,” said Risco.
“It has a different level of complexity, but after three days of training I feel confident with it,” said Risco.