Local men part of multi-national exercise with National Guard



For the average person, having access to communications of some sort, whether through cellphone or by computer, is an essential part of daily life.

For U.S. Army soldiers in the field, having communications is critical to mission success.

To that end, soldiers with the Indiana Army National Guard have been working to ensure commanders have communications capabilities with troops in the field as part of Slovak Shield 2019, a multi-national NATO war-fighting exercise in Slovakia, a country in central Europe.

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The Slovakian military and Indiana National Guard have partnered since 1994 and participated in multiple combined annual military operations and exercises such as Slovak Shield, Toxic Valley and Toxic Lance.

At least two Jackson County men are involved in Slovak Shield this year, Spc. Josh Southerland and Spc. Dillon DeVore. Both are 2014 graduates of Trinity Lutheran High School.

They are assigned to the 1st Squadron, 152nd Cavalry Regiment, 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 38th Infantry Division of the Indiana Army National Guard.

Sgt. Tackora Hand with Indiana National Guard public affairs said the squadron will continue to train in Slovakia, which is formerly the part of the Republic of Czechoslovakia, for the next two weeks.

Hand said the unit that DeVore and Southerland are a part of is headquartered in New Albany, but it is unique in that it is the only cavalry squadron in the state. The unit is comprised of guardsmen from across the Hoosier State.

Both Southerland and DeVore have participated in different scenarios while setting up communications.

“We have established a high-frequency antenna setup,” Southerland said. “It is meant to provide communications between the command site and the exercise site.”

The AN/PRC-150 multi-band radio, commonly referred to as a Harris radio, has unique capabilities and is capable of transmitting both voice and data over difficult terrain, Southerland said.

Instead of requiring a line of sight to transmit information, the AN/PRC-150 is able to send signals off of Earth’s ionosphere. The equipment reflects a signal off of the atmosphere from one point on the Earth’s surface to another, including over mountains, trees and other terrain.

Soldiers with 1-152 CAV recognized the importance of establishing good communications.

“The mission would fail without comms,” DeVore said. “It’s the only way we can talk to each other.”

Slovakia’s mountainous terrain provided new challenges for the soldiers.

“It’s hard because we can’t set up easily,” Southerland said. “We can’t just call the person on the other side.”

Despite that challenge, the soldiers were able to establish communications between the training sites. After all, the soldiers had one goal in mind when setting up the antenna.

“Good comms,” DeVore said.

The original 38th Infantry Division was organized at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, on Aug. 25, 1917, during World War I from National Guard units from Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia.

Today, the 38th Infantry Division provides fully manned, equipped and trained units prepared to deploy and conduct unified land operations for combatant commanders and to respond to any domestic crisis in support of the governor of Indiana or other civil authorities.

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