U.S. Army signal Soldiers from 2nd Signal Brigade departed their garrison in Grafenwoehr early Wednesday morning on a 1,456 kilometer (905 mile) convoy across three countries to provide communications and network support to their U.K. Allies during exercise Stoney Run in Bramcote, England.
Operating on only 72-hour notice, the convoy from Company B, 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 2nd Signal Brigade traveled across Germany, Belgium and England, including a ferry crossing of the English Channel, to the Stoney Run training site at the 30th Signal Regiment headquarters in Bramcote.
Stoney Run is an annual U.S.-U.K. signal exercise designed to test and validate communications and network capabilities, and enhance interoperability and partner capacity between the two NATO Allies. A key objective of Stoney Run 16 is to exercise the 44th ESB’s deployment readiness processes, including the ability to alert, assemble, prepare for deployment, deploy, execute training mission and redeploy the unit on short or no notice.
2nd Lt. Cye Heatherly, a platoon leader in Company B, 44th ESB and the convoy commander, said while his Soldiers are always prepared to deploy the network anytime, anywhere, the Stoney Run exercise allows them to put their training into practice.
“On Monday (May 23) morning we received our 72-hour notice in which we were notified we would support our partner unit in the U.K. and that we had to assemble our teams and prep our vehicles and equipment to deploy,” Heatherly said. “This exercise provides us the opportunity to execute the training we’ve had to deploy and provide support to our Allies on very short notice.”
Before the platoon departed Grafenwoehr, Heatherly said they assembled their teams, inspected bags and load plans, conducted rehearsals and vehicle recovery drills, and practiced merging in and out of traffic on the autobahn. Sgt. 1st Class Amy Larsen, the platoon sergeant, said some of the biggest challenges on their journey included vehicle maintenance and driving on the left side of the road in England.
Spc. Joesph Yoeman, a line-of-sight system operator, said while he has never traveled so far in a Humvee before, to do so now instills confidence in his equipment and the unit’s ability to rapidly deploy.
“It’s about readiness and having that knowledge that you’ve done it before and can do it again,” Yoeman said.
The 44th ESB Soldiers will provide logistical support to the 250th Gurkha Signal Squadron during exercise Stoney Run through June 13. The unit’s two Secure Internet Protocol Router/Non-secure Internet Protocol Router (SIPR/NIPR) Access Point satellite terminals, or SNAPS, and two line-of-sight systems will allow U.S. and U.K. systems to pass voice and data across a shared network and enhance communications and network interoperability between the Allies.