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Soldier pimps Gator with radio suite

by Brendan McGarry on March 25, 2013

FORT POLK, La. — They call it the Boar Battle Wagon.

Pfc. Jonathan Bole, a soldier in 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, has pimped out a John Deere Gator all-terrain vehicle with some of the latest communications gear from the U.S. Army for potential use on an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.“I have built a little mobile-command post for the colonel,” he said in an interview.

The brigade, based here at Fort Polk, La., will be the first in the service to deploy with new radios and networking equipment designed to boost mobile connectivity on the battlefield. Soldiers are receiving accelerated training with the technology, which includes smartphone-compatible radios made by General Dynamics Corp., before a planned deployment this spring.

The radios, antennae and laptops came installed on heavy, blast-proof trucks, known as mine-resistant ambush-protected all-terrain vehicles, or M-ATVs, made by Oshkosh. Bole, acting on orders from his commander, Lt. Col. Alan Boyer, assembled the systems on an ATV to see if he could get them working on a smaller vehicle that could fit into a CH-47 Chinook helicopter.

“Something I asked my staff to do, my communications experts, is to create me a mission-command platform that is of medium weight, that I could put onto a CH-47 and fly to an austere, expeditionary environment, that would provide mission-command over my troops and the operations,” Boyer said. “They took my intent and came up with the Boar Battle Wagon.”

The result is a communications suite that can be powered by a small generator and provide everything from analog radio to satellite communications, as well as the ability to send instant messages, download intelligence feeds and digitally observe troop movements, Boyer said.

The unit is known as the Wild Boars, presumably after the animals that roam stretches of the military post,  located about 130 miles south of Shreveport.

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