WASHINGTON — If the U.S. 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, deploys to Afghanistan this year to act as a security forces advise-and-assist team mentoring Afghan troops, they’ll likely introduce a weapon to the battlefield: the Boar Battle Wagon.
Two privates from the 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment “Wild Boars” constructed the beast at Fort Polk, La., during their train-up for the mission this winter. It consists of a John Deere Gator ATV stacked with the Army’s newest and most anticipated communications equipment.
Lt. Col. Al Boyer, the commander of 2/30, said he was looking for a way to use the Capability Set 13 suite of radios, mission command and on a platform lighter than a mine-resistant, ambush-protected all-terrain vehicle, to have connectivity in places where the hulking armored vehicle is too big to go.
The two privates equipped the vehicle with satellite voice capability and a Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below system. It also has access to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance feeds. They loaded it on a CH-47 Chinook with a small generator to keep everything running and dropped it on top of a mountain, where Boyer was able to stay in contact with his soldiers.
In Afghanistan, “I need to be expeditionary,” Boyer said. “So essentially, we can drive this thing up on the back of a ’47, fly it up to some austere environment, pull it out, fire up the generator and, essentially, I had every single thing on the back of that vehicle that I could have in my [tactical operations center] in a hardwired structure.”
Boyer praised the CS13 package his soldiers used during their training rotation, saying it “will save people’s lives in Afghanistan, especially as we transition to retrograde and advising our Afghan partners. That situational awareness in those small teams is critical.”
At the training center, the unit created a BOLO list (short for “be on the lookout”) with the names and descriptions of suspects they were hunting. They blasted it through the CS13 system “so every single soldier out there on the battlefield had the BOLO list” available on the smartphone-like devices they were equipped with.
After that, “we started rolling up the network significantly.” The opposition force told him that “those checkpoints significantly impacted their operations” because soldiers could now spot any suspects that might be coming through, Boyer said.
“Capability Set 13 is a great out-of-contact system” he continued, adding that once a fight starts he wants his soldiers to be focused on the fight and not fiddling with their radios and smartphones.
“What it does out of contact is immediately following contact you can drop [virtual] chem lights and say ‘this is where the enemy is,’ or drop a request for help or you can take a picture and send it back, or you can locate personnel on the ground who are not in contact” for things such as casualty evacuation.