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RAM Warn brings current equipment into the future

November 16, 2012
By Sgt. Candice Harrison

MCGREGOR RANGE, N.M. -- Soldiers from Air Defense Artillery Management, Brigade Aviation Element, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, assessed the Rocket, Artillery and Mortar Warning system here during Network Integration Evaluation 13.1.

Throughout the five week evaluation, RAM Warn and other equipment were gauged on different aspects, including ease of use and reliability.

"The main purpose of the RAM Warn system is force protection," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ben Carmichael, command and control system integrator for ADAM/BAE. "It is used to give soldiers a warning so they can get to a bunker, get down on the ground or take some protection measures."

Radars employed by RAM Warn, the Lightweight Counter Mortar Radar and Q36 Firefinder, are already employed by BCTs. These radars can detect incoming rockets out to 25 km and mortars or artillery from 12 km.

"All of the sensors [belong] to the brigade. All the equipment used for the speaker towers and the equipment that actually provides the warning, the Army already has," said Carmichael. "The development costs were rather low. The Army just took a lot of stuff that they already had and found a new use for it."

The RAM Warn system expedites and disseminates the information obtained by the radars allowing Soldiers to be alerted of indirect fire 20 seconds before impact.

RAM Warn, along with other command and control assets found in the ADAM/BAE, can predict the point of origin and point of impact of indirect fire.

The point of origin information is used to neutralize the enemy, described Sgt. James Lea, an aviation operations specialist with ADAM/BAE. Point of impact information allows medical assistance, security and other resources to be directed to that area.

A loud alarm sounds inside the tactical operation center. A siren in the middle of the base calls out "incoming." Information appears on the computer screen. These actions happen almost simultaneously. Seconds later Lea calls out grid coordinates of point of origin. Moments later he announces the point of impact.

NIE allows soldiers in the field to use and assess equipment meant to modernize the Army's forces. They are trained on the equipment and spend time using it in realistic scenarios. Ease of use and overall functionality are some of the factors used in the assessments.

"This is the first time I was introduced to...working with an air defense system," said Staff Sgt. Kenneth Tecala, aviation operations sergeant with ADAM/BAE, of RAM Warn. "It was pretty easy to learn. I just had to learn the equipment and the read outs on the screen were fairly simple. It is easy to use and understand."

The RAM Warn has been used in the last four NIEs. With feedback from evaluations the system continues to improve.

"There have been fixes to software and features on the software have been implemented. The contractors are also taking feedback from Soldiers using [similar equipment] in theater," said Carmichael. "Its necessary to get this stuff tested. It's got to be verified. RAM Warn has been tested in every NIE since the first one. We've seen a steady improvement in its capabilities and reliability from the first NIE to this one."

The soldiers participating in NIE are responsible for getting good quality equipment to soldiers downrange. This equipment can help save lives and accomplish missions. Those participating in NIE are vital to the future of the U.S. Army.

"I'm retiring from the Army in about 20 months," said Carmichael. "It's pretty satisfying, and gives me a pretty good feeling that something we've taken from baby steps to production is going to live on after I'm retired."

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