SCHWEINFURT, Germany (Feb. 1, 2010) -- In 2008, after returning from a 15-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 5th Signal Command's 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion had a full year of redeployment, restationing and reset.
They began the process of relocating from Mannheim to Schweinfurt as part of Global Rebasing and Restructuring and kicked off 2010 with a validation exercise designed to test and authenticate their equipment.
Many of the Soldiers training on the equipment have recently arrived to 44th and coupled with below-freezing weather conditions the training was made more realistic for the Soldiers.
"It was my first time touching half this equipment, it was great hands-on training," said Pvt. Andrew Acampora, 44th ESB. Aca,!A"Not even the cold could stop me from learning.Aca,!A?
The Outstanding 44th has already completed Phase I of the VALEX, which consisted of consolidating spare unit equipment, testing of antenna masts and validation of all 30 Net-operation suites.
"WeAca,!a,,cve been out here testing and training 'til 8 p.m. every day for two weeks," said Spc. Joseph Packer, 44th ESB. Aca,!A"Overall, it's been a great experience teaching these new Soldiers how to work their equipment.
Phase II of the VALEX is underway with Joint Network Transport Capability system validation. This part of the exercise focuses on the Command Post Nodes, Satellite Transportable Terminals and Joint Network Nodes.
In this phase, the CPNs are connected through the STTs and validated by pulling non-secure and secure internet protocol data and voice, as well as the U.S. European domain through laptops and phones connected to the CPNs.
"There has been some training happening, but our main goal here is to get the equipment up-and-running as best and as fast as we can," said Pvt. Mitchell D. Cotner, 44th ESB. Cotner explains the STT as "a wonderful tool to help troops not only with the mission, but also with Morale, Welfare and Recreation by connecting deployed Soldiers to the outside world."
The JNNs are validated in a similar manner: by connecting to Phoenix satellite terminals and verifying Time Division Multiple Access and Frequency-Division Multiple Access protocols by pulling services through laptops connected to the JNNs user access cases.
"It's like having broadband with you, you can take it with you anywhere around the world," said Spc. Kevin S. Moody, 44th ESB. "Because of the quick setup of the CPN, we can provide instantaneous communication."
Thanks in part to this exercise, one of 44th's companies will be deploying this Spring on their upcoming mission to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Even though 44th will be one company lighter, they will still be conducting normal operations throughout the European theater by providing communication support to three separate U.S. Army Europe missions, in Kosovo, Poland and Germany.
During the month of February, the 44th will also continue training and crew drills on the Line-of-Sight, Single Switch Shelter, the Phoenix Satellite terminal, STT and CPN. "With a majority of Soldiers only with the unit for a few months, building cohesive teams and training up new Soldiers is a top priority for the battalion," said Maj. Luis Alvarado, the 44th ESB operations officer.
In keeping with their vision statement, they are, "prepared to answer the nation's call to arms on a moment's notice."