During training here the last week of August, Soldiers with the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division learned the benefits of having the Rifleman Radio and Nett Warrior systems with them in the field.
Spc. Daniel Gomez, a team leader with 1-35 Armor, said the Rifleman Radio offers communication within his entire platoon all the way down to team members in each squad. It paints a picture of the battlefield, he said.
"When the team leaders and squad leaders can't see something, the team members can easily call it up and provide better situational awareness," said Gomez. "[The team members] can pretty much tell them what they have in front of them -- say they come across a road and the team leader cannot see it -- the team member can call it up to him before he gets too close to the [danger area] or enemy personnel."
The Rifleman Radio is an individually worn radio that provides intra-squad communications and automatic position-location information. The radio may be issued to every Soldier within a platoon, which allows voice communication down to the individual Soldier, increasing situational awareness at the tactical edge.
Additional situational awareness on the battlefield can save lives, said Capt. Steven Rendon, a platoon leader.
"Anything that you can bring to a fight that's going to help give you a little more situational awareness, help keep leaders a little more tied-in to as many levels as possible, is going to help," said Rendon. "And what that does is it's going to help keep us from situations such as fratricide.
When the Rifleman Radio is coupled with an end user or hand-held display device such as Nett Warrior, leaders at the team, squad and platoon levels can transmit position information, text and collaborative common operating data to small unit leaders. Since the Rifleman Radio is capable of transmitting and receiving voice and data communication simultaneously, Soldiers used it in conjunction with the Nett Warrior system during the exercise.
"All we're doing is practicing our battle drills and while we're doing that we're incorporating the Nett Warrior system and the Rifleman Radio as a tool -- just as a back-up right now -- it's not a be-all-end-all," said Staff Sgt. Kaid Lacroix, a squad leader. "It's just a tool right now that we can use for situational awareness, so I can see where my team leaders are on the battlefield or I can see where higher-ups are. It helps me push reports up and I can control my guys a lot better with it."
Rendon said Soldiers view the Nett Warrior and Rifleman Radio as additional tools that provide more situational awareness on the battlefield. He said Soldiers always rely first on their initial training -- the basics such as hand and arm signals, and the ability to communicate with or without radio communications.
But even though Soldiers rely on their basic warrior tasks, Rendon said equipment like Nett Warrior and Rifleman Radio are advantageous to Soldiers in the field.
"Anything that we can bring to the fight that helps increase our combat effectiveness and situational awareness is always going to be a welcomed asset to us -- even if it saves just one life, it's going to be worth carrying all the extra weight and all the extra training that we're going through for it," Rendon said.
Article by Lt. Col. Deanna Bague, Brigade Modernization Command