Soldiers test capabilities during RAF deployment drill
U.S. Army Soldiers with the 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team construct a multi-directional antenna during a Regionally Aligned Forces (RAF) deployment drill at Camp Lemonnier, July 29, 2013. RAF is a U.S. Army initiative for providing combatant commanders with rapidly deployable forces, which can relocate anywhere in the world at a moment's notice. The 1-63rd CAB is currently assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa and is one of the first units to deploy under the new initiative. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Chad Thompson)
As part of a recent Regionally Aligned Forces (RAF) deployment drill, members of the 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division setup their mobile command post and put their Soldiers to the test here July 29-31, 2013.
RAF is a U.S. Army initiative providing combatant commanders rapidly deployable forces, which can relocate anywhere in the world at moment's notice. The 1-63rd CAB is regionally aligned with Africa, specifically the Horn of Africa region, key to the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa mission to strengthen East African partner nation militaries by conducting crisis response and personnel recovery in support of U.S. military, diplomatic, and civilian personnel throughout East Africa.
"This is a chance for us to validate our systems and the process of setting up our tactical area command post or 'TAC'," said U.S. Army Capt. Richard Karmann, battalion effects coordinator. "This drill gives us the opportunity to work out any bugs and make sure there are no shortfalls working with our sister services and our enablers."
A key piece to this initiative is proper training, equipping, and partnering with the host nation and allied military forces wherever the unit is assigned. Karmann said practicing these movements is just as important as the expeditionary capabilities they bring to the fight.
"A team like this brings a lot to the fight because we can have an almost instant effect on any battlefield," said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Gordon Hunt, a TAC noncommissioned officer.
These forward-deployed command-and-control teams are made up of intelligence, plans and operations, fire support cell, and a communication section; all of which are focused on enhancing the commander's situational awareness and his control over his forces.
Toward this objective, the members of the TAC work together to bring near real-time information to a battalion commander in order to make informed command decisions, Hunt said.
"We bring situational awareness right now," he added. "And it helps increase the ability to respond to the situation on the ground by immediately processing information from the front lines."
Once the team hits the ground at the deployed location, they have three hours to get everything up and running - with the most difficult part being setting up communications, Hunt said.
One of the newest members, with less than four months on the team, said he is excited to be learning something new.
U.S. Army Pfc. Matthew Davenport, a radio and telephone operator and Memphis, Tenn., native, said the knowledge he has gained in the last few months translates well to what he has learned in his 14 months of experience in the field.
"I have learned a lot, and understand now why we do some of the things we do," he said. "There is a reason for everything, and I hope to take the knowledge I'm learning on this team back with me to the battlefield. It's something I will use throughout my career."
The 1-63rd CAB is one of the first units to test and deploy under this new RAF initiative. With more than a month assigned to CJTF-HOA, they have already conducted several joint missions and deployment drills to integrate into their new role.