'Enlightened Dragon' allows signal battalion to do more with less
December 17, 2013
USAG Daegu -- Soldiers in a Signal MOS that requires higher network permissions must pass the Security Plus exam and be certified in order for them to be fully functional in their daily jobs
Typically, a Mobile Training Team comes to the different Areas in Korea to provide training for the Soldiers, but as the budget has tightened, the MTTs have been sent less often, and demand for seats in their classes has increased greatly.
To combat this challenge, in Area IV the 36th Signal 'Dragon' Battalion, 1st Signal Brigade, has taken it upon themselves to provide the specialized training traditionally provided by the MTTs to assist their Soldiers to become certified without having to wait for the MTT. They call their class 'Enlightened Dragon.'
The program has been going on for about three and a half years, and started out teaching net plus certification, according to Ronald Coleman, the regional director of Network Enterprise Center South. He said that he saw the need to provide the Soldiers in the 36th Signal Battalion additional training that wasn't being provided at the time to better enable them to better work on the Army communications network. Since then the program has moved on to teaching Security Plus to give the Soldiers an IT level II certification.
"We typically run an 87 to 90 percent pass rate for first-time exams," said Coleman. "It's an intensive two weeks, and sometimes that weekend in-between they're working too."
Coleman said the only reason the program is successful is because he got the commander's buy-in to hedge the Soldiers off from all but Physical Readiness Training, first thing in the morning, and allow them to focus solely on the Security Plus training.
The majority of the class was made up of relatively new Soldiers, however most professed to have had an affinity or prior experience working with computers prior to becoming a Soldier.
"I did this as a civilian too," said Pfc. Timothy M. Belanger, who now works at the help desk at the 293rd Signal Company.
Belanger said that the 'Enlightened Dragon' class opened his eyes to see exactly how Security Plus ties in to the job he does every day. He said that the class goes into depth in Security Plus that he didn't receive at Army Advanced Individual Training.
"This class has been really helpful to the students," said Belanger. "When we first got here, we had people getting 200 to 300 scores on the exam. Now they are getting 700s to 800s in one week."
Another student, Pfc. Konor J. Robinson, was told after he took the ASVAB that he could basically do whatever he wanted, and Information Technology Specialist was the only thing he wanted to do.
However he has been frustrated since he got to his unit, the 14th Signal Detachment, because he can't do his job without the certification because he works in the COMSEC Vault.
Robinson said he is definitely learning a lot during the class and appreciates the time they have to really focus on learning the Security Plus lessons.
Command Sgt. Maj. Myron Geter, 36th Signal Battalion Command Sgt. Maj., explained that Department of the Army Civilians from the Battalion who have Security Plus certifications have volunteer to teach the portions of the class they are most familiar with.
"The program consists of civilians and the Army working as one team, which only makes the battalion and the brigade more effective," said Geter.
When asked about expanding the program, Coleman said that they will hold their first 'Enlightened Dragon' course at Camp Humphreys coming up in January. This will kick-off the same 'Enlightened Dragon' program in Area III to meet the needs of the Dragon Battalion Soldiers there as well.
The 1st Signal Brigade enables joint and combined command, control, communications, computers, and information management operations throughout Korea to support United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command, United States Forces Korea, and Eighth Army's ability to lead, direct and maneuver available forces during armistice, crisis, or war.