|Story & photo by Rob Schuette, Public Affairs Staff
Members of the Wisconsin Army National Guard 32nd Infantry Brigade
Combat Team (IBCT) trained at the Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site
(MATES) at Fort McCoy to learn to operate new up-armored forward
Kevin Langley, a representative from the DRS Sustainment Systems of St.
Louis, said the M1200 Armored Knight vehicle is an upgrade from the
equipment formerly used both from a tactical and operational standpoint.
The vehicle is used to support firing missions, which often are
performed by IBCT or BCT units.
Vehicle operators from the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team
inspect a new M1200 Armored Knight vehicle under the guidance of
Kevin Langley (left), an equipment representative.
The new equipment features specifically designed armor and an
improved communications system, Langley said. The communication system
is upgraded from a voice network, which can be limited by terrain and
other environmental factors, such as noise, to a digital signal, which
is more accurate.
“The new system gets them there safer and offers them better
communications so they can accomplish their missions without undue
risk,” he said. “The new system also has more advanced equipment to help
them identify targets and better relay the information to other vehicles
and personnel involved in a mission.”
Wheeled vehicle mechanics using the new vehicles received seven days of
training, Langley said. Communication and computer specialists received
three days, and operators received 10 days of training. Each of the
trainees received materials so they will be able to serve as trainers
and share the information when they return to their units.
Master Sgt. Patrick Mackie, the 32nd IBCT noncommissioned officer in
charge, said the new equipment is a big improvement from the current
equipment used by the unit.
In the past, unit fire missions were communicated via voice
transmissions, which were subject to many external factors, including
enemy actions, that could cause misunderstandings or misinterpretations.
“The communications could take up to 15 minutes, or longer, by voice
transmissions,” Mackie said. “The new equipment can do it much quicker
and much more accurately.”
The digital transmissions can be sent directly to the fire direction
center, and the mission can be calculated and sent to the gun batteries,
he said. The written formats used are much easier to interpret than the
Pfc. Joshua Saffert, a signal support specialist for the Headquarters
and Headquarters Company 32nd IBCT of Camp Douglas, Wis., said the new
computer/communications equipment is great.
“We went through the training, and then were able to go through the
vehicles to ensure the equipment worked,” Saffert said.
Sgt. Johnathan Feist, an information systems specialist with the 32nd
IBCT, said the new equipment is an upgrade in finding and designating
“We can incorporate everything we do into a digital format,” Feist said.
“It will allow us to digitally communicate with personnel and or other
equipment/vehicles in the operation. It’s much more efficient than the
equipment it’s replacing.”
Capt. Adam Carlson, MATES supervisor, said the new equipment fielding
and training also is important to MATES employees.
“Our personnel get to see the new vehicles and go through the training
as well,” Carlson said. “This puts us in a better position to support
the maintenance needs of this equipment and the Wisconsin National
MATES is affiliated with the Wisconsin National Guard. Carlson said some
of the new equipment will be stored and maintained at MATES so it will
be available for training by the Wisconsin National Guard and any Guard
or other units that need to use it.