New satellite communication course with APG roots debuts at Fort Gordon

Soldiers use the Wideband Training and Certification System classroom at Fort Gordon, Georgia. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Roy Dilworth

The U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence has launched new training techniques for the Satellite Systems Network Coordinator Course, which was developed at Aberdeen Proving Ground and designed to train Soldiers on Army satellite communications.

The system, known as the Wideband Training and Certification System (WTCS), was created with the help of two members of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command — Software Engineering Center project lead Brian Ferri and Rachel Ward, an assistant product manager at Program Manager for Defense Communications and Army Transmission Systems (PM DCATS).

They began developing WTCS in 2013 and brought Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation on board for assistance the following year.

Ferri, the project lead and test director for WTCS, said the need for a new course came from Soldiers who wanted specialized training that deals with new subsystem software.

“We’re in constant touch with Solders in the field,” Ferri said. “We knew what they wanted in a training system.”

The WTCS is a modular, interactive training and simulation system to be used by Soldiers with the Military Occupational Specialty, or MOS, of 25S, Satellite Systems Network Coordinator Course. The MOS carries the additional skill identifier of 1C. Soldiers will be trained on the new subsystems, which help manage and control satellites and plan their satellite communication links over those satellites in different areas in the world.

The system allows instructors to build tailored scenarios to support specific training objectives. The WTCS reacts in real time to student input, allowing each scenario to develop realistically and simulate an unfolding situation.

During the 18-week course, Soldiers learn about power management on a satellite, proper ways to communicate with active forces and troubleshooting techniques for working with satellites and terminals, said Sgt. Roy Dilworth, a WTCS instructor from Fort Gordon, Georgia.

Dilworth said the WTCS classroom is designed to look like the Wideband Satellite Communications Operations Centers (WSOCs) that Soldiers advance to after completing the course. At WSOCs, operators perform satellite payload management tasks for the Wideband Global SATCOM constellation of satellites, delivering strategic communications capability worldwide for the Army, the Department of Defense, other government agencies and the National Command Authority.

“With this new system, our capabilities are so much greater and the realism is so much greater with what we can train on here,” Dilworth said. “The Soldiers are more prepared to hit the ground running when they get to their units.”

The first WTCS classroom, customized with technology necessary for the program, was installed at Fort Gordon, where the first class started late last year. Those Soldiers are expected to graduate next month.

Additional WTCS classrooms are expected to be completed by May 2018 at the Army’s five WSOC sites located at Fort Detrick and Fort Meade in Maryland; Fort Buckner in Japan and Army installations in Wahiawa, Hawaii; Landstuhl, Germany; and the 1st Space Brigade and 53rd Signal Battalion at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Project Manager DCATS Col. Enrique Costas said WTCS enhances the Army’s operational readiness.

“Army SATCOM enables satellite communications for carrier strike groups, deployed air wings, special operations task forces, intelligence assets, and strategic forces, providing them a decisive advantage to fight and win in any environment against any adversary,” he said. “By using WTCS to train how we fight, WSOC operators will be better prepared to deliver their 24/7, no-fail mission to enable satellite communications for our warfighters.”