by Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner
434th ARW Public Affairs
9/24/2013 - GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. -- By
definition, a bold quest is a courageous pursuit of a valued objective,
and to many servicemembers no objective could be more valued than solid
Grissom Airmen endeavored upon such a pursuit to improve military communications during Bold Quest 13.2 by taking flight to refuel coalition aircraft as well as provide logistical support for a NATO E-3A Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft here Sept. 4-24.
Bold Quest is a coalition capability demonstration and assessment series
held on a recurring basis. Among the technologies being demonstrated in
BQ 13.2 were various types of radios, tactical data links and network
equipment used to support joint fires, joint terminal attack control,
personnel recovery and other missions.
"Bold Quest is an exercise that tests coordination and identification
systems between airborne assets and ground troops," said Lt. Col. Edward
J. Dieringer Jr., 434th Operations Support Squadron plans officer, who
spearheaded Grissom's involvement in the BQ exercise.
"(We) try to get all systems to talk the same language," explained
German Air Force Capt. Martin Vogt, an AWACS fighter locator. "It's not
going to happen, but what you need to do is find out where you have
commonalities, where you can exchange that data and where you need to
Joining U.S. military and civilian members from the four military
service branches were those from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany,
Denmark, Finland, France, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Norway and
The majority of BQ 13.2 was held at and over Camp Atterbury - Muscatatuck Urban Training Complex, Ind., convening warfighters, developers and analysts in a unique, problem-solving environment.
A 434th Air Refueling Wing KC-135R Stratotanker and E-3A flew out of Grissom while fighter aircraft, such as French Air Force Mirage 2000Ds, U.S. Air Force A-10C Thunderbolt IIs, U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets and U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers, flew out of the 122nd Fighter Wing in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Grissom's refueling operations extended the flight times of the French
fighters just as they would in a real-world operation, allowing for a
longer and more thorough testing and assessment of new systems, said
The AWACS was described by Vogt as a command post in the air that acts
as a medium between headquarters and the troops on the ground. He said
their mission during BQ 13.2 was to both supplement other coalition
military force assets as well as experiment with communicating to those
forces with a new internet protocol communication system.
"We have a IP (communications) upgrade that we'd like to test out here,
where we are trying to get an IP connection into the NATO AWACS," the
captain continued. "We need to make sure we can communicate with
everybody on the battlefield, and IP connection, nowadays, is the media
to go to to do that."
Communicating their enthusiasm, Grissom's aviators said they were excited to be a part of the joint and coalition exercise.
"This is really an awesome experience because it not only helps us keep
our positive relationships with other countries, it makes sure we can
operate as one team," said 1st Lt. Jason Bireley, a 72nd Air Refueling
Squadron KC-135 pilot who flew during BQ 13.2 to refuel French Mirages.
And, Bireley said, operating as one joint and coalition team in an
exercise environment is important because that is how real-world
operations take place on the modern battlefield.
"This exercise helps iron out our flaws and gives people and heads-up as
to what goes on out there in the real world," added the lieutenant, who
has served since 2002 as both a KC-135 crew chief and in-flight
refueling specialist before becoming a pilot.
Vogt agreed, stating that interoperability and compatibility will be key to future mission success.
"In the future it's always going to be a multi-nation operation, so
you're going to have all these systems that are not normally designed to
be compatible, and you want to get them to have a certain
compatibility, so that you can exchange data between the different
nations, between the different systems," he added.
With Grissom's piece of BQ 13.2 now complete, coalition participants can now reflect on the experience.
"This year's exercise has been successful on many levels," said
Dieringer. "(We look forward to seeing) the new systems deployed with
troops around the world."
To see that fully come to fruition, Vogt said there is still work to be
done, but BQ 13.2 definitely set the coalition partners on the right
path for success.
"People are going to go away from here saying, 'yeah, we know what we
need to do, we know what we need to fix to get this thing working,'" he
Grissom is home to the 434th Air Refueling Wing, the largest KC-135R unit in the Air Force Reserve Command, as well as three Army Reserve units and a Marine Corps communications detachment.