Saber Strike 24 showcases new era of NATO interoperability

April 23, 2024

Instant Connect’s real-time language translation enhances multinational military coordination

“It’s seamless integration. They [coalition partners] don’t need to know English. It alleviates the language barrier and lets them, especially during a live-fire, have instant voice communication with our units.”
Joshua Chang, U.S. Army 1st Lt, liaison officer with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment

M1A2 Abrams tanks in action at Bemowo Piskie Training Ground in Poland, demonstrating a live exercise of military precision with multinational coordination involving Italian, Spanish, and German armored units.

April 19, 2024 –

Amid the roar of M1A2 Abrams tanks and synchronized fire from Italian, Spanish, and German armored units, the Bemowo Piskie Training Ground in Poland became a live canvas of military precision and multinational coordination.

A testing ground for readiness and response

Officers from various NATO countries observed a coordinated dance of armored might. But it was not just a display of firepower; it was a critical test of seamless communication across diverse NATO forces in battlefield scenarios.

“Technical interoperability enhances readiness and allows us to stay ahead on the battlefield,” said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Joshua Chang, a liaison officer with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment (2CR).

Interoperability is key to Saber Strike 24, a part of the broader DEFENDER 24 series of military exercises, as a means of enhancing combat readiness and rapid response for NATO forces.

The Mission Partner Kit

The Saber Strike live fire exercise in April, 2024 showcased the integration of new, formidable communication capabilities for the U.S. Military and its allies.

Central to this year’s exercises is the Mission Partner Kit (MPK), a combination of applications and devices developed to ensure that U.S. forces and their mission partners operate as a unified front—regardless of language barriers or different military technologies.

The MPK is the primary component of an initiative called “Extending the Network.”

“Extending the Network allows our mission partners to communicate with us,” Chang said. “The Mission Partner Kit allows us to quickly, safely, and securely provide our mission partners with voice, chat, collaboration, and location-sharing capabilities.”

The MPK integrates four tools:

  • Instant Connect Enterprise (ICE) software platform: Voice interoperability and real-time language translation
  • Tactical Assault Kit (TAK): Location sharing and situational awareness
  • Radio Integrated Communications Suite (RICS): Converts FM radio signals to IP data, reducing equipment requirements in the field while extending the comms network
  • Wickr: End-to-end encryption service

Breaking language barriers

Instant Connect introduced real-time language translation into the communication network. During one segment of the exercise, a German officer issued a command into his RICS kit. Instantly, the command was translated via Instant Connect and broadcast in English to allied units.

This moment from command to execution underpins the MPK’s value:

“It’s beneficial because it allows greater interoperability,” Chang noted. “It’s seamless integration. They don’t need to know English. It alleviates the language barrier and lets them, especially during a live-fire, have instant voice communication with our units.”

“The concept behind Mission Partner Kits … is to simplify access for our tactical forces, whether it’s a foreign partner or ourselves … We’ve simplified and increased access. By simplifying it, we’ve introduced applications that are familiar to [military] users.”
Cyber Warfare Officer supporting 2nd Calvary Regiment

Tomorrow’s battlefield

As Saber Strike 24 concludes, the exercise not only tested the limits of current military technology but also set a new benchmark for future operations. The successful deployment of the MPK illustrates a transformative shift in how NATO envisions and executes joint military operations.

With such tools at their disposal, NATO forces are not merely reacting to threats but are proactively shaping the dynamics of modern warfare. The power of technology to unify and empower diverse military forces has never been clearer, heralding a new era where interoperability is synonymous with victory on the battlefield.

For more on the Saber Strike 24 live-fire exercise:

  • Read this coverage from the U.S. Defense Visual Information Distribution Service.