Advanced artillery system training reinforces warfighter readiness

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Story by Justin Eimers on 10/13/2017
TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. As software sustainment continues to drive warfighter readiness, equipment and information technology specialists from Tobyhanna Army Depot are equipping Soldiers with critical knowledge for all weapons systems through Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS) training.

Depot personnel at Fort Hood's Central Software Support Section have provided what they call "post-deployment software sustainment" since 2014, including new equipment training (NET), local and field training for AFATDS. The system, in the simplest of terms, controls large-arms weaponry.

"Soldiers shoot cannons, rockets, missiles and mortars, and have a connection with the air for attack helicopters. AFATDS is the main system that calculates technical and tactical data in order to do any of that," said Information Technology Specialist Luis Tolentino.

AFATDS prioritizes targets received from various sensors and performs attack analysis using situational data combined with commander's guidance. The result is timely, accurate and coordinated fire support options to engage targets using Army, Marine, Navy and Air Force weapon systems. The system provides complete flexibility to manage attacks on preplanned and time-sensitive targets.

In regards to AFATDS support, the Defense Department has certified instructors to teach Soldiers the ins and outs of the software and NET teams that travel to specific units to show new applications within it. Tobyhanna's support, however, goes much further.

"In our case, we are the jack of all trades," said Information Technology Specialist Sam Omari, adding that depot personnel provide AFATDS support locally, in the field and while deployed, including current support in Kuwait and Afghanistan. Tobyhanna also has personnel working at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California; and the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, Louisiana.

AFATDS support is in collaboration with the Communications Electronics Command's Software Engineering Center (SEC) at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. During mission command system exercises, units receive a particular package controlled by plans and operations at SEC. That information is then passed down to personnel in the Central Software Support Section when it requires support for AFATDS.

"The partnership with Tobyhanna has been a big success and has enabled us to stabilize a significant portion of our field support," said Craig Devine, C4ISR Support Manager for SEC at Fort Hood. "We rely on depot personnel more heavily than usual to cover our field support shortfalls and they do a great job for us in the Central Region. The Tobyhanna management team here is extremely helpful, professional and responsive in our region, and is a pleasure to work with."

Soldiers have also expressed gratitude for the level of support from depot personnel and confidence in their skills acquired from the over-the-shoulder training.

"Tobyhanna has always been a great asset with AFATDS," said Sgt. Eric Stadtmueller, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas. "They put things in terms that I already know so that if I read a manual and it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, I will have the tools to help me help myself.

"I can tell any of my Soldiers to go here [to the Central Software Support Section] and I know they're going to be treated well in a timely manner."

Alex Meno, chief of the Central Technical Support Section, said he's optimistic about future AFATDS missions.

"We have several events scheduled for the fourth quarter of this fiscal year and are employing a robust deployment rotation to continue support in theater," he said.

Tobyhanna Army Depot is a recognized leader in providing world-class logistics support for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems across the Department of Defense. Tobyhanna's Corporate Philosophy, dedicated work force and electronics expertise ensure the depot is the Joint C4ISR provider of choice for all branches of the Armed Forces and industry partners.

Tobyhanna's unparalleled capabilities include full-spectrum logistics support for sustainment, overhaul and repair, fabrication and manufacturing, engineering design and development, systems integration, post production software support, technology insertion, modification, foreign military sales and global field support to our Joint Warfighters.

About 3,200 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the command's mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the Armed Forces.

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