By Capt. Robert TaylorFebruary 21, 2018
BOISE, Idaho - The 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team signal Soldiers conducted signal gunnery Feb. 6-11 on Gowen Field and in the Orchard Combat Training Center.
The training, planned and executed by the brigade's communication section, was designed to train the brigade's signal Soldiers in a training environment on their communication platforms prior to a year of heavy field training.
"Information is a weapon the brigade yields," said CW3 Jerred Edgar, the brigade's network defense chief. "We're training Soldiers on their mission command weapons systems. We're making information more lethal."
Approximately 60 signal Soldiers from five signal military occupational specialties in each of the brigade's seven battalions participated in the exercise. The training audience was sergeants and below working at the crew level.
Soldiers were intentionally assigned to crews with Soldiers from other units to allow signal Soldiers to get to know their counterparts across the battalion as well as share their experiences with Soldiers they don't typically work with.
"Everyone does the same job," said Sgt. Seth Gaskins, a signal support system specialist in C Company, 116th Brigade Engineer Battalion. "But everyone does it differently."
Edgar began planning the training more than a year ago to accommodate the brigade's training schedule. He developed the concept of "signal gunnery" after not being able to find any doctrine regarding crew-level training in the Army to mirror training line units are familiar with.
"We wanted to create a process that trains crews in a manner similar to tank gunnery to create shared understanding with commanders," Edgar said. "There must be mutual understanding with commanders because they can think, 'this is like tank gunnery for my signal Soldiers.'"
Edgar said the biggest challenges for signal Soldiers is being spread out across four states without ever being the focus of specific signal training. Signal Soldiers are expected to show up and perform their tasks without delay, he said.
The six-day training event gave Soldiers the chance to train on their assigned equipment and practice setting it up quickly. During the two-day field exercise, crews each jumped to five locations, including two at night.
"It's good to be in a learning environment," Gaskins said. "There's not the pressure of failing our unit. We can just focus on improving the brigade, both as individuals and as a whole."
The brigade plans to conduct similar training next year.