307th ESB juggles Pacific Signal mission with deployment to Afghanistan
June 15, 2011
- Nearly 200 Soldiers assigned to the 307th’s Headquarters and Headquarters Co. and Bravo Co. returned home to Hawaii.
- This was the unit's first deployment since the Vietnam conflict.
- These Soldiers did a phenomenal job,” said Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Jacqueline D. Brown.
HONOLULU, Hawaii- If accomplishing a communications mission from one location sounds hard enough, imagine providing command, control, communications and computer capabilities for two theaters from four separate locations.
This was the exact mission accomplished by the 307th Expeditionary Signal Battalion in the past year.
Nearly 200 Soldiers assigned to the 307th’s Headquarters and Headquarters Co. and Bravo Co. returned home to Hawaii after a year-long deployment to Afghanistan, providing communications support as part of the Presidential Force Uplift supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
“These Soldiers did a phenomenal job,” said Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Jacqueline D. Brown. “Not only did they prepare to deploy in 120 days, but we went out there as part of the Presidential Uplift. What this means is between HHC and Bravo Co., they deployed to austere locations, to not yet established Forward Operating Bases, so they went in there and set up from scratch.”
While deployed, the 307th ESB split and simultaneous supported two regions in Afghanistan. HHC, 307th ESB provided Signal support for Regional Command (North) in the northern region of Afghanistan and B Co., 307th ESB deployed to the southern region of Afghanistan and was headquartered in Kandahar.
“Their accomplishments have been monumentous, and says a lot about the Soldiers and their professionalism. They never quit,” said Brown. ”We always say, 'if it was easy, they wouldn’t have sent us.' ”
During this wartime mission, the 307th ESB established tactical communications for 16 newly established FOBs, trained Afghan National Army Soldiers on proper communication equipment usage, built a computer laboratory to expedite training, and established the largest Morale, Welfare and Recreation facility in Regional Command-South.
While completing this mission in Afghanistan, the remainder of the battalion continued their vast Pacific communications mission.
“What the 307th was able to accomplish with a modular structure was to deploy parts to Afghanistan while leaving other parts engaged in the Pacific theater, both in Alaska and Hawaii, and that is impressive,” said Brig. Gen. William Scott, commanding general of the 311th Signal Command (Theater).
The 307th is responsible for the tactical command, control, communications, and computers capability in the Pacific. Prior to the deployment, the battalion's four companies supported the U.S. Army, Pacific's Theater Cooperation and Security Program. During the deployment, the remaining two companies, Alpha Co. and Charlie Co., continued to support the U.S. Army Pacific Signal needs by attaching Alpha Co. to the 59th Signal Battalion in Alaska and Charlie Co. to the 30th Signal Battalion in Hawaii.
All three units report to the 516th Signal Brigade, which reports to the 311th Signal Command (Theater), both headquartered in Hawaii.
After a year of deployment, the returning 307th Soldiers were glad to have completed the mission and be back home.
“It made the whole year worth it to see my family," said Spc. Anthony Wooley, an installations management operator whose wife and two children, ages 18 months and seven years, greeted him at the 307th's welcome home ceremony June 5. “Marching in and seeing them waiting for me and hugging them for the first time made all the stress and all the hard times down range worth it.”
Brown, proud of the battalion and equally happy to be home, expressed the necessity to focus on the final part of the mission.
“It’s great to be home, now we just have to continue to be professional and while our mission is complete as far as coming home from Afghanistan, however the next 90 days is the most critical, because it's when our Soldiers and equipment must be reintegrated,” said Brown.
This was the unit's first deployment since the Vietnam conflict. According to Scott, what is even more significant about the 307th's story is its unique mission accomplished during the time in between, and the transformation the unit underwent as a test group for an Army-wide initiative toward a more modular force.
"The 307th was dedicated to the Korean peninsula for decades, and because of this unique experience, the Army looked at how to make them a part of its global deployable force," Scott said. "They trained on new equipment, were redesignated as an Expeditionary Signal Battalion, and their new modular structure allowed us to accomplish the signal mission here in Hawaii, Alaska and Pakistan at the same time as the deployment."
While half the battalion was deployed, the 307th's Alpha Company in Alaska deployed to Pakistan to provide communication capabilities for Task Force Denali.
"When we say 'Mission accomplished,' yes we're celebrating HHC and Bravo's deployment, but we're also celebrating the Army's decision to add these units to the pool of deployable assets," said Scott. "This reduces the burden of all the other Signal units and that represents a bigger mission accomplished."