CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE MAREZ, Iraq – Soldiers deployed in support of Operation New Dawn rely heavily on communications to conduct their daily operations, whether it means sending an email or making a phone call.
Sgt. Matthew Cogburn, senior information systems non-commissioned officer assigned to Company B, 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, ensures soldiers stay mission-ready by successfully maintaining communication lines throughout the brigade.
Cogburn, a native of Round Rock, Texas, earned the title of “Long Knife Strong” Soldier of the Week for his technical abilities, knowledge and mentorship of fellow soldiers.
While deployed to northern Iraq, Cogburn trained nine non-commissioned officers and 20 soldiers on the small aperture antenna used to support one of the brigade’s battalions and provided tactical communications to eight combined checkpoints and joint security stations.
“He’s like our ‘go-to guy’ for all of our signal operations,” said Sgt. 1st Class Caroline Williams, telecommunications systems chief platoon sergeant assigned to Company B, 4th BSTB.
Cogburn enlisted in the military following the 9/11 attacks. He has served in the Army for seven years, but just recently re-classed to his current job after serving as a cook.
Despite only serving two years in his current job field, his supervisors said the senior information systems non-commissioned officer performs his job well above standard.
“He clearly is highly technical, more so than his peers who have the same military occupational specialty,” said Williams, a native of Atlantic City, N.J. “He learns other systems that he doesn’t typically work on. He is at the staff sergeant level or above as far as his technical expertise.”
Cogburn operates the equipment necessary to provide signal support to the brigade along with five other soldiers during the night shift.
He also serves as the troubleshooter for the outlying areas of the brigade’s operating environment – roughly the size of West Virginia.
“I provide digital communication so the brigade commander can communicate to leaders throughout the brigade via video conference, e-mail or phone – no matter where they are,” said Cogburn.
Aside from performing his job above standard, Cogburn also encourages his fellow soldiers to further both their military and civilian education.
As a result of Cogburn’s encouragement, his peers and subordinates completed more than 500 hours of military correspondence courses and 50 college credit hours during the deployment.
“Taking college courses is very important to your professional development in the Army, and it is a good development tool all around,” said Cogburn.
Cogburn also personally completed five online classes as part of his network security degree.
“It feels like I am a vital part of the team, because I’m doing something important,” Cogburn said. “It’s rewarding to know I’m providing services that affect so many people.”