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Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC)

EOD Group One Trains on Next-Generation Communications Technology

by LT. Cmdr. John Mike
12 June 2023  Sailors from throughout the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group (EODGRU) 1 enterprise trained on next-generation satellite and mesh network systems in San Diego from May 23-24.

A communications exercise taught Sailors how to use cutting-edge technology that enhances Navy EOD’s ability to support Distributed Maritime Operations and Expeditionary Advanced Basing Operations.

“This is how we need to communicate as part of the Navy Expeditionary Combat Force. The technology is designed to operate in austere operational environments while being more resilient to disruption and exploitation by adversaries,” said Cmdr. Philip Ibbitson, the command, control, communications and computers, and intelligence (C4I) officer at EODGRU-1.

Teams of Sailors used the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite waveform, Mesh Networking Protocols, and Team Awareness Kit (TAK) applications, which are better suited for expeditionary operations due to their increased mobility, capabilities, and decreased power requirements.

“We created a more resilient, robust mesh communications network with teams located throughout a 15-mile area full of obstructions,” said Ibbitson about using the elevated line-of-sight technology, which provides continuous communications if one or more nodes goes down.

Teams were located aboard small boats transiting San Diego Bay, and on Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, California, and Naval Base San Diego. They shared voice, data, and precision location information using a Mobile Adhoc Network (MANET) that runs TAK software on Android tablets and Windows workstations.

“We pushed the limit of the mesh network as it dynamically adapted to find the best route to direct information so communications were not lost,” said Information System Technician 1st Class Jose Reyna, who was aboard a small boat that transited past all the teams while heading to Point Loma.

Depending on available satellite resources, TAK allows Sailors to text, stream videos and send pictures to a group chat everyone with access can view. The MUOS waveform and PRC-117G radio provided teams advanced mobile communications capabilities that included secure and unsecure phone calls, and access to the Navy’s Secure Internet Protocol Network (SIPRNet).

“Legacy technology doesn’t have the smarts to do that,” said Reyna, a Sailor in EODGRU-1’s C4I Department. “This gives us secure communications, constant integrity and the ability to have real-time tracking of our forces.”

Ibbitson added that this technology is essential to overcoming potential adversary advantages by improving Navy EOD’s ability to maneuver and help the fleet and Joint Forces control key maritime terrain.

“It gives commanders unparalleled geospatial awareness of their units’ locations while allowing units, and eventually unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) to be tracked and retasked,” said Ibbitson.

EODGRU-1 is a critical part of Navy Expeditionary Combat Command that clears explosive hazards to provide access to denied areas, employs advanced tactics and technologies to exploit and secure the undersea domain for freedom of maneuver, builds and fosters relationships with trusted partners, and protects the nation.