FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. -- About 40 Soldiers from Fort Huachuca's 11th Signal Brigade helped prepare for a historic moment for Soldiers of the 62nd Expeditionary Signal Battalion Aug. 13-21 at Fort Hood, Texas as they tested new equipment in a field environment in preparation for their upcoming deployment.

The battalion, activated in October, conducted its first-ever field training exercise. Since this was the unit's first one, the Soldiers took the training seriously.

The purpose of this FTX was "to train the battalion to command and control a Signal network and prepare the battalion for its Wartime Mission," said Maj. Jim Hoffman, 62nd ESB Battalion executive officer.

"The most important aspect of this field training is to conduct safe, vigorous and professional field training that allows Soldiers to learn the signal equipment, develop their field craft, build good team cohesion and develop leaders on command and control of their elements."

Even with the vigorous training the Soldiers received during this FTX, there is still a long road of training yet to come. The Soldiers of the 62nd ESB will now have to complete three levels of training prior to the battalion's upcoming deployment.

"[The Soldiers] will need to complete Signal University (individual training), Section Evaluation (team training) and Culminating Training Exercise (CTE - battalion/ company training)," said Hoffman.

"Signal University is a collection of individual classes that will prepare the Soldiers for their wartime mission. Section evaluation training tests the team's ability to install their equipment within the time standard in a multitude of conditions," said Hoffman.

Conducting a training exercise at this level does not come without challenges. Not only are the Soldiers faced with the physical demands of terrain and weather, but this was the first time they worked with new equipment.

"This is the first time this GTA (Grow the Army) Expeditionary Signal Battalion has exercised its abilities to engineer, install, operate, maintain and defend its portion of the LandWarNet," said Hoffman.

"Most noteworthy was the obstacle of starting out in October of 2009 with zero balance of any MTO&E mission-essential equipment which means our noncommissioned officer corps and junior officers had approximately eight months to receive, train, practice and rehearse in order to validate their companies."

In spite of the obstacles, Hoffman says the battalion's greatest strength is having knowledgeable and seasoned war-tested leadership.

"Proactive leadership at all levels from team chief to battalion commander has been essential in accomplishing this critical component," said Hoffman.

Overall, Hoffman believes the unit is ahead of estimated progress based on this being the first "battalion level" field problem. He went on to say all the future training will allow the Soldiers to practice the installation of the expected network and allow leadership to shape the battalion into a task organization that can implement the network successfully.

"[The Soldiers] should understand that the scope of the mission is ever evolving and expanding. This will develop a well rounded command and control of the 62nd ESB and ensure a successful mission in the upcoming deployment."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16