By Lacey Justinger, Triad Contributor
New binding satellites allow Soldiers to get realistic hands-on
training at Fort McCoy with the Blue Force tracking systems they will
see while deployed in-theater.
Warrior Trainer Sgt. Michael Hatchett shows an Airman how to
relay convoy positions and information using the Blue Force
Tracker system. (Photo
by Lacey Justinger)
Blue Force Tracker provides units with satellite situational
awareness that increases the flow of battlefield and tactical
Soldiers report enemy and combat area hazard information to
their commanders as well as to other units, vehicles and Soldiers in
The satellites are bound to a hard drive so if either the
system or the satellite is compromised the remaining part will not
work when connected with an alien counterpart.
"The enemy wants to know what's going on," said Sgt.
1st Class Alvin L. Smiley, an Operation Warrior Trainer, Blue Force
Tracker instructor at Fort McCoy. "If they overrun a vehicle that
has Blue Force Tracker and take it before it is destroyed, they could
never find anything out because nothing's going to show."
Soldiers can destroy Blue Force Tracker system hard drives in
less than 15 seconds as well as send 911 messages that kick other
users out of the system that is in jeopardy.
As Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force (Prime BEEF) Airman
Tech. Sgt. Joseph Ritter said, "It improves our technological
superiority over the enemy as commanders use it as a tool to track
personnel and vehicles."
Blue Force Tracker transmits, receives and displays situational
awareness messages and the location of friendly forces, enemy forces
and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in relation to the convoy.
Satellite communications report suspicious items like abandoned
cars, tires, tank charges and claymore mines beyond the Soldier's
line-of-sight. Logistical information about the enemy is reported and
convoys will receive audible and screen banner warnings when they are
in close proximity to the threat.
Sgt. 1st Class Alvin Smiley, an
Operation Warrior Trainer master trainer, instructs an Airman on
using Blue Force Tracker as a global positioning system to track
live tactical situations and report relevant combat information.
(Photo by Lacey Justinger)
Tools are available to measure the distance and direction to a
destination with a visual view of the terrain between the points.
This allows Soldiers to determine dead space and plan for
direct or indirect fire from battle positions or discover concealed
routes in the terrain.
"Blue Force Tracker is about color codes; I see something
red coming up and that's bad," said Smiley. "I can take
preventative measures against the hostile enemy as I'm riding along
and I know where he's at; otherwise I'll never know."
Messaging allows Soldiers to exchange critical combat
information between tracker systems to enhance situational awareness
between convoys. The
system allows Soldiers to keep a running history of enemy activities
and attacks, track the location of friendly units, battlefield hazards
like nuclear, biological or chemical contaminated areas, minefields
Commanders track the status of their unit in relation to
friendly and enemy forces in order to be responsive to the tactical
"In the beginning there was no way to track convoys that
turned off the road," said Smiley. "No one knew where they
were. Now we can send information ahead to base command if the convoy
encountered IEDs, live fire or if the mission is complete and we made
There are fewer than 60 digital master trainers for Blue Force
Tracker in the Army and seven of them work at Fort McCoy. With the
three Blue Force tracker satellite systems on Fort McCoy;
approximately five percent of a unit's population will attend classes
in groups of 24 Soldiers in either two-day classes or a five-day
(Justinger is a public affairs specialist
for Eagle Systems and Services Inc., contractor for CONUS Support Base