September 20, 2016 –
SOUTHWEST ASIA — At the tactical level of operations, the ability to identify friendly and hostile forces with Blue Force Tracking in the battlefield becomes critical to track, communicate, strike and defeat the enemy, and carry on the mission.
BFT is a type of global positioning system that provides information about friendly and hostile military forces’ locations and route planning. The BFT is not just a GPS. It’s also a computer with a satellite antenna, text and imagery capabilities, and mapping software that highlights the friendly forces in blue and hostile forces in red.
When the 300th Sustainment Brigade Detachment 2 requested support from the 1st Theater Sustainment Command-Operational Command Post’s information technology section, “the Soldiers from the 451st Expeditionary Sustainment Command went above and beyond their duties and volunteered to install the BFTs on the vehicles,” said Army Reserve Maj. Parinya Sukaromya, information technology officer in charge with the 300th SB, 1st TSC-OCP.
“They [300th SB] told us they had the BFTs, but not installed on the vehicles. So, I said, ‘we can install those for you’,” said Army Reserve Sgt. Charles Smalley, signal support systems noncommissioned officer with the 451st ESC, 1st TSC-OCP.
Smalley, who has been in the Army Reserve for more than six years, took the installation of the BFT’s as an opportunity to work with and provide refresher training to Army Reserve Sgt. Alex Katz, signal support systems NCO with the 451st ESC, 1st TSC-OCP.
“The Blue Force Trackers are the eyes and ears in the battlefield and are capable of being used in aviation assets as well,” said Katz. He expressed the training was a refresher.
Yet, at the 300th SB, BFTs are not the main technology used by Soldiers to communicate during missions. “Harris(r) radios are used as the primary means of communications,” said Smalley.
Harris(r) is a military radio manufacturer which Soldiers of the 300th SB use to ensure clear voice communication during convoy operations. Since the radios are used for voice transmission, the BFTs play a critical role in providing a visual on the route required and identifying possible threats during convoy operations.
The combination of both audio and visual technologies aids the 300th SB and the 1st TSC-OCP to safely accomplish sustainment operation missions.