Signal Company FTX works to improve skills for Korea-wide exercises

By 2nd Lt. Daniel A. HerbApril 1, 2014

Soldiers carry a litter on a tactical ruck march
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Layout of a 15-meter antenna mast
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Raising a 30-meter mast
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Recently Charlie Company, from the 304th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, conducted a Field Training Exercise at the Camp Humphrey Training Area, in South Korea.

"We wanted to create a company FTX which was challenging, focused on core signal competencies while validating company support elements ensuring a 'Fight Tonight' posture," said Capt. Michael A. Chezum, Charlie Company Commander.

Training Soldiers on key equipment, such as the High Capacity Line-of-Sight (HCLOS) system, is important for Charlie Company as they cannot provide signal support without their Soldiers being properly trained on their equipment.

"As a Signal Soldier it is important to not only have fundamental crew drills learned, but be able to select the best site for communications establishment," said Cpl. Matthew P. Ebel, a Multichannel Transmission Systems Operator-Maintainer with 1st Platoon. "During the FTX, Charlie Company accomplished both."

The HCLOS is key to communication systems because it provides 16MB of data per second to users up to 40 miles away. During Ulchi-Guardian Freedom 2013, Charlie Company utilized the HCLOS to support the Eighth Army operational command post, which had more than 600 users, throughout the exercise.

Charlie Company started the day with an early morning alert and 3.8-mile ruck march to the FTX training area. During the ruck march the company simulated incoming artillery fire and practiced casualty evacuation with two Soldiers on stretchers for the final 2.5 miles to the training area.

Once on site, Soldiers trained on the HCLOS Shelter, a 30-meter mast, and 15-meter mast, and achieved a company record for setting up equipment to Army standard. Charlie Company was the first company in the 304th Expeditionary Signal Battalion to set up the 30-meter mast in more than 5 years.

Chezum said he felt the FTX helped the company focus its training for upcoming Korea-wide exercises.

"This is the training that will keep us sharp", said Ebel. "We used teamwork, specialty skills, and leadership to keep us mission ready."