GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- Norwegian Armed Forces members participating in Combined Endeavor 2011 have an unusually small team in this year’s exercise, but are working hard to achieve their interoperability and telecommunications goals as they begin the second week of the exercise, Sept. 13, in Grafenwoehr, Germany.
Combined Endeavor has about 40 different NATO and Partner for Peace countries participating this year, provides an opportunity for all the nations to come together to work on interoperability in a deployed environment while building international relationships.
Norwegian army Capt. Johin Askheim, exercise delegation chief, said this year their main focus is on telecommunications.
“We need to attend this exercise to see how and where our system has to be developed for better performance and interoperability. We are here to make sure we are interoperable and that our solutions are working not only in our nation, but on an international level.”I
n addition to improving their telecommunication systems, a new battle harness that tracks troop movement in conjunction with the Blue Force tracker system is being tested, but is still in the early stages and has yet to be used in real-world operations, according to Capt. Erlend Grytten of the Norwegian Defense Center.
“However, it is being tested at the Combined Endeavor 2011, and there was a much larger test that happened in the United States,” he said. “Right now we are testing the information flow from air craft like F-16s all the way down to a soldier.”
The battle vest is being tested on a smaller scale as it would be used in a real-world scenario.
“We have a small demonstration right now, with a team of three simple units,” he said. “On the harness you have a compass and a GPS showing the direction and path you are headed on. The unit information is sent via a secure personal radio to the squadron leader and who will get the information on a personal data assistant, that information is then sent to the virtual command post.”
During the exercise the Norwegian soldiers are looking for solutions to their telecommunication problems and finding answers that will work with both Telcom and non-Telcom nations.
“First of all, for our country it is telecommunications connections that we want to improve this year,” Askheim said. “We want to see how well our solutions are working together with other nation’s telecommunications systems in general. We also brought other equipment to see how those communication systems are working to in addition to our telecommunication solutions.”
Askheim said the exercise not only helps in their home nation but when deployed in Afghanistan as well.
“We have members who are in Afghanistan right now and we are putting up an Afghanistan mission network system there which directly relates to what we are doing here during this interoperability exercise,” he said. “We have fewer personnel because we are quite busy in Afghanistan, but the guys are working really hard so I am hoping we can achieve all of our goals even with a small team.”