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Spark helps ignite big fires exercise across Europe during Dynamic Front 24



VILSECK, Germany – U.S. Army Spc. Alexis Medina, an information technology specialist assigned to the 56th Artillery Command was in a bind — his mentor and IT subject matter expert was unavailable to provide help or guidance for an upcoming artillery exercise. This meant Medina was working solo and had only a few weeks from Jan.19, the date he arrived at the Rose Barracks Multi-Purpose Center, to stand-up the technological domain needed by the main body of U.S. Soldiers, Allies, and partner nations participating in Dynamic Front 24.

Dynamic Front is the U.S. Army’s largest artillery exercise designed to bolster interoperability in Europe, which is a major investment in the cohesion of the NATO Alliance and the overall readiness of Allies and partners to work together in a complex security environment.

The 56th AC is the lead unit in DF 24, which demonstrates artillery synchronization between participants in Germany, Türkiye, Romania, and Poland, Feb. 5-25.

“For Dynamic Front 24 I am your server admin and the help desk team lead for the Grafenwoehr Training Area team,” Medina said. “What that entails is that we use a system called CPCE which establishes connections through various avenues and applications however, this time we’ve been doing a simulation connection to basically simulate a wartime scenario and reaction from the training audience.”

When first asked to setup the cyber communications network for the exercise, Medina initially felt uncertain he’d competently be able to fill the role of a data operations warrant officer. This feeling of uncertainty was short lived, he quickly rolled-up his sleeves and was determined to get the job done. He was to create the technological mainframe needed by all participants of DF 24. Luckily for him, and everyone else involved, he’d already built the servers but still had to configure applications for them to communicate with other servers at a multitude of locations theater-wide.

During the planning phase by the 56th, it was decided that Medina’s role would be named the “Spark” as he would be working alone for a few weeks before any help arrived — quite a fitting name since he was followed by the Torch team, that was then followed by the Advanced party, and finally the Main Body.

“I couldn’t have done it without the help of my team, there’s a multitude of things that go into the helpdesk, that was mainly led by my colleague Spc. Wales. He was making sure he got all of the accounts squared away,” Medina said. “At the same time, Pfc. Jaramillo was doing all of the grunt work you know, every role has importance, if Jaramillo wasn’t running cable, doing menial taskings here and there with computers, I wouldn’t have been able to establish the fires systems, servers and connectivity between all of the different NATO Allies.”

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kevin Jackson, a cyber defense warrant at the 56th AC, recognized that Medina was working in an unprecedented capacity with a grueling one-man tasking for a couple of weeks.

“The role that he’s filling is generally the role that’s filled by our other CW2s,” said Jackson. “So he’s working well outside of his comfort level, crushing it, and he’s only 21. What helps him is his outgoing personality, he’s made so many friends with some of the partner nations that a lot of the times when they need something he’s the person they consult to assess whatever issue it is they’re having—definitely a bright future with his attitude and maturity.”

This was Medina’s third year participating in Dynamic Front, and his experience with this fires exercise really shined at DF 24.

“The most rewarding thing is meeting the people you know, it’s a special exercise. You have a whole bunch of people come from a whole bunch of places you know. Everyone just talking and sharing experiences that build camaraderie, and with camaraderie and knowledge management of our systems we can establish connections quicker so that we get back into the fight.”

Having competent and skilled IT support was a key component in helping facilitate the fortification of interoperability among the artillery land forces who came out to display the mighty hammer and thunder of the “King of Battle,” a nickname appropriately given to the artillery because of its massive effect on the battlefield, and its lethality when compared to the standard weapons of the infantry.

An impressive feat at DF 24 that began with a lone IT “spark”.

Date Taken: 02.18.2024
Date Posted: 02.27.2024 01:04
Story ID: 464678
Location: VILSECK, DE

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