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Training tool deploying for first time in August

By C. Todd Lopez

GRAFENWOER, Germany (July 17, 2008) -- A team in Germany is preparing to deploy a tool in early August that promises to make training easier, more efficient, and more meaningful for units preparing for Iraq.

The Exportable Instrumentation System is a portable set of equipment that tracks player and equipment movement during exercises and records their activity and communications for use during the after-action review process.

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The remote base stations, part of the Exportable Instrumentation System, can be placed around a training range to act as signal repeaters to feed information back into EIS. The EIS is a training enhancement tool that will be used for the first time August 4 in Hammelburg, Germany.

In August, the Instrumentation Training Analysis Computer Simulations and Support Center -- part of the Joint Multinational Readiness Center -- will for the first time deploy the EIS to Hammelburg, Germany to be part of a mission readiness exercise there involving the 172nd Infantry Brigade from Schweinfurt, Germany.

Participating from the brigade will be the 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment; 3rd Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment; 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment; 1st Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment; and the 9th Engineer Battalion. A total of about 700 Soldiers will participate in the MRE and will be the first to use the complete EIS.

"During the exercise, Soldiers at Hammelburg will be responsible for security, for convoy operations, and for everything they will be responsible for when they go downrange to Iraq," said Dave Caples, ITACSS operations officer. "For this exercise, the EIS will provide a means of expanding the battle space, challenging the Brigade to maintain logistical support, communications and C2 with a unit that is geographically separated from the headquarters element."

The 172nd is expected to conduct a six-day MRE using the EIS, and will be disbursed across three locations, including Hammelburg, Grafenwoehr, and Hohenfels, Germany. The headquarters element of the brigade will be located in Hohenfels while the 3-66 AR will be located in Hammelburg -- about 125 miles away. The disbursed units will all be tied together during the exercise by the the EIS.

The EIS consists of several pieces of portable equipment, including the "Global Hawk" containers that contain the computers that run the system; several hard shelters called HELAMS that house workstations for analysts; and several remote base stations that can be placed around a training range to act as signal repeaters to feed information back into EIS.

Individual Soldiers may be asked to wear instrumented personnel detection devices so that EIS analysts can see where they are on the range, and vehicles involved in the MRE will be outfitted with MILES II equipment that allows the EIS to track their whereabouts, their expenditure of munitions, and their fuel usage. In all, the EIS can monitor some 800 inputs participating in the exercise.

During an exercise, the system allows for analysis of Soldier's actions, the communication between Soldiers and their headquarters, and the implementation of logistics support to Soldiers and equipment, Caples said.

The EIS also contains a sophisticated facility where Soldiers and their commanders can conduct the after action review process, aided by video captured by EIS during the exercise and by inputs from analysts.

In all, the 172nd will be the first to benefit from the advanced technology ITACSS has assembled to enhance Soldier training.

"We are the only place in the world that has something like this," Caples said. "The EIS is meant to deploy anywhere in the world. We give these guys the flexibility to do a whole lot of things simultaneously, and I think it will enhance the training immensely."

While there are similar, non-portable systems already at Army combat training centers, the EIS is mobile, and can be taken anywhere in the world. It is the only system of its kind in the Army today, and JMRC will use it to take its training capability on the road to other training ranges in Germany, or anywhere in the world.

Caples said it is the Army's intent to assemble another EIS for use inside the continental United States, but doesn't expect that system to be ready until 2011.

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