Signal Command's Grecian Firebolt 2012 supports exercise comms at Fort Hunter Liggett, Camp Parks
August 9, 2012
FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. - Communication is the key to success - and there may be nowhere that's more critical than on the battlefield. Soldiers from the 392nd Expeditionary Signal Battalion, based in Baltimore, Md., are perfecting their skills to provide needed communications during Exercise Grecian Firebolt 2012.
Grecian Firebolt is the Army Reserve's largest and only communications exercise supporting real-world missions and training exercises involving thousands of Active and Army Reserve soldiers across the country. The 335th Signal Command (Theater), an operational Army Reserve force of more than 8,000 active and Reserve soldiers headquartered in East Point, Ga., oversees the annual exercise, running simultaneously at several locations across the country, May 29-Aug. 28.
Soldiers like Spc. Brandon Gumabon, a satellite system operator-maintainer for the 392nd ESB, is one of the Army reservists responsible for helping to ensure the communications link between systems like the Satellite Transportable Terminal, Command Post Node and Joint Network Node are up and running properly.
"The exercise has given us a very valuable opportunity to train on our equipment. We've been able to cross-train, help each other out, teach each other," said Gumabon.
Gumabon and others from his unit, working closely together at Fort Hunter Liggett and Camp Parks, Calif., are responsible for making sure users of the systems, whether an engineer or truck driver, can communicate. In layman's terms, Gumabon and his comrades serve as what can be described as major cable companies for the U.S. Army.
Because of their efforts, users have access to the internet, email, DSN telephone lines and even conduct conference calls.
For this exercise, users include more than 2,000 soldiers who rely on the communications systems working properly to get their jobs done.
The 297th Engineer Company out of Anchorage, Alaska, is one of them.
"We can communicate. They're doing a very good job, and because of that we can accomplish our mission, which is primarily off the FOB [Forward Operating Base]," said Capt. David Geesaman, company commander, 297th Engineer Company.
Geesaman says the communications set up at FOB Schoonover on Fort Hunter Liggett not only allows him to communicate locally but also with his battalion and unit back in Alaska, which is entering its window of availability for deployment to Afghanistan.
"We can communicate our needs, our logistics requests, even our op[erations] orders, it goes through their signal to us," said Geesaman.
The same can be said for the 872nd Support Maintenance Company from Ogden, Utah.
"When we first got here, there were some issues but then we teamed up with the 392nd and they've provided us with fiber and a switcher. They have been very accommodating."
Top leaders are recognizing those efforts. During the exercise, Maj. Gen. Stuart M. Dyer, commanding general of the 335th Signal Command (T), and Brig. Gen. Christopher R. Kemp, 359th Tactical Theater Signal Brigade commanding general, visited the Fort Hunter Liggett and Camp Parks sites. Both praised the work and dedication of the signal soldiers.
"Know that what you're doing is important. It's important to the mission. I appreciate what you all are doing. This is real world," said Kemp.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Clarissa Love, an information systems tech with the 392nd ESB, is responsible for making sure her soldiers are proficient in their skills. Love says it is vital that every one does their part.
"The exercise gives soldiers a total hands-on experience where they can see how their decisions affect the users. They also learn the sense of urgency involved in making sure communications stay up," said Love.
"We're practicing for wartime, it's setting that up so we can be more proficient and accurate at our individual jobs not only in garrison and stateside, but actually for war."