FORT GORDON, Ga. - The 35th Signal Brigade soldiers enhanced their communication capabilities, and maintained their expeditionary culture to prepare for future missions in a brigade field training exercise (FTX) from May 13 to May 17 at Fort Gordon, Ga.; Fort Bragg, N.C.; and Joint Base-Lewis McChord, Wash.
“THE Lion Brigade” soldiers validated communications equipment, and implemented Installation as a Docking Station, a communication system that gives the brigade the capabilities to monitor communication assets throughout the globe.
Maj. William Heitzman is a network engineer assigned to the brigade S3. He and his team were responsible for integrating the communication system into the Fort Gordon installation network for the first time.
“With the use of IADS, the brigade headquarters at Fort Gordon will not have to deploy the battlefield to assess equipment functionality,” said Heitzman. We will be able to monitor communication systems in Afghanistan and the National Training Center on Fort Irwin, Calif., at the same time.”
In addition to making strides to enhance communication capabilities, brigade units prepared for future missions. Sgt. 1st Class Audrey Richardson, the operations section noncommissioned officer in charge for the 63rd Expeditionary Signal Battalion at Fort Gordon, knows her soldiers have the confidence to support division, corps, and echelon above corps assets in the future.
“We are prepared and ready to provide communication support for any contingency mission. Validating our systems and training in this environment gives our soldiers the confidence to provide the best service to our customers,” said Richardson.
The expeditionary culture the brigade upholds is understood by soldiers of all ranks and technical experience. 2nd Lt. Caleb Onkst, a platoon leader assigned to A Company, 63rd ESB, just crossed the one-year mark from his commissioning ceremony at West Point. As a site OIC during the exercise, Onkst inspected his area for any environmental concerns, and ensured communication links to distant-end users were operational.
“In this exercise, I learned how to coordinate with the brigade headquarters, our sister units within the battalion, and installation agencies on Fort Gordon to ensure mission success,” said the Greenville, Tenn., native.
Pfc. Erica Hernandez of Austin, Texas, is a nodal network systems operator assigned to B Co., 63rd ESB. She learned a valuable lesson about troubleshooting telecommunication and radio systems.
“Troubleshooting is important. Most of the time it’s the very small details that causes a communication link to not work properly,” said Hernandez.
At Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Spc. Jessie Masoner, a multichannel communications specialist assigned to B Co., 51st ESB, used his three years of Army communication experience to cross-train soldiers on the Satellite Transportable Terminal and the Phoenix Satellite System.
“Cross-training soldiers from different positions improves the unit, and the FTX gives soldiers real-world application and experience to decrease the occurrence of communication outages,” said Masoner, a San Bernardino, Calif., native.
Maintaining equipment is a high priority of any Signal unit. Defective parts must be replaced quickly to make sure communication and vehicle systems function at a high level. The 63rd ESB motor maintenance team of CW2 Shane Hayward and Sgt. 1st Class David Nims ensured vehicles and power generation equipment were maintained during the exercise. The team also tested the Combat Service Support Automated Information Systems Interface (CAISI), a communication system that allows units to exchange logistics information.
“We tested our ability to use communication systems between our subordinate units and the Brigade,” said Nims.