News: Signal soldiers provide secure communication during joint exercise
Story by Sgt. Richard Andrade
CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. – When the power goes out in the neighborhood, the first thing people reach for is their phone. If the phone lines are down though, then the communication between first responders in the event of a natural disaster or terrorist attack becomes the difference between life and death.
For this reason, soldiers assigned to the 63rd Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 35th Signal Brigade, based out of Fort Gordon, Ga., train year-round to produce reliable communications in a crisis, including providing signal support to various task forces in support of the Vibrant Response 13 exercise at Camp Atterbury, Ind., from Aug. 7-14. The joint exercise prepares various military forces and civilian agencies to respond to an incident of national disaster or attack.
In the event of a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear incident on American soil, Joint Task Force-51 will deploy designated forces to assist local, state and federal partners to save lives and provide critical support to those affected. The 63rd ESB falls under the JTF-51 and will deploy anywhere in the continental U.S. assisting state and federal responders to save lives, mitigate damage and alleviate suffering.
Once activated, the 63rd ESB will be tasked to provide communication services to support the various task forces. Company B, for example, will provide internet and phone lines to the 5th Medical Brigade. Communication is vital for their mission because without it, lives will be on the line.
“The 63rd ESB worked hard with us and worked well with us by setting up our communications, helping to provide the services that we need,” said Capt. Gregory Frett, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 5th Medical Brigade, a reserve unit based out of Birmingham, Ala.
“We appreciate the support the signal Soldiers provide, including internet and phone support,” Frett, a native of Atlanta, Ga., added.
According to Spc. Phillip Banuelos, a multichannel transmission systems operator-maintainer assigned to Company B, 63rd ESB, 35th Sig. Bde., he and his team provide 5th Med. Bde., with internet and phone line support.
Spc. Chad Hill, also a multichannel transmission systems operator-maintainer assigned to Company B, 63rd ESB, 35th Sig. Bde., said in the event of a signal outage, his mission is to assist Banuelos and his team by monitoring and troubleshooting the equipment
“We help 5th Med. Bde., communicate with the rest of the units involved in this exercise,” said Hill, a native of Macon, Ga. “If any their equipment goes down, we would bring our equipment in and replace it.”
The task forces assigned to JTF-51 will continue to train and prepare in the event of a national crisis. If called upon they will work together to assist local, state and federal agencies in order to save lives and provide vital support to those in need, Banuelos said.
“We hope nothing happens, but if it does we will be ready to go and help the American people,” he added.