By Capt. Kurt E. Van Slooten, 1st Signal Brigade PAOJune 9, 2014
USAG HUMPHREYS, South Korea -- When the 304th Expeditionary Signal Battalion deploys to support exercises, it is usually the line companies that spend time in the field leaving Headquarters and Headquarters Company in place to support daily operations and provide higher command.
However, in the field training exercise they conducted from 18-22 May, it was the HHC personnel and primary staff that deployed and setup operations in tents in the training area just outside USAG Humphreys.
"We are the one tactical signal battalion on the peninsula," said Capt. Arturo Rodriguez, company commander, HHC. "If we had a crisis we would support the tactical signal needs for the Army network for about 60 days until reinforcements could be brought in."
For the exercise, the company brought out two Joint Network Nodes and two High Capacity Line of Sight radio teams to support signal needs, as well as a Mobile Kitchen Trailer, a M1089A1 Medium Tactical Vehicle wrecker. The company also brought along a standard automotive tool set trailer that has repair equipment and parts they might need to repair their vehicles, generators, and a portable electronics repair trailer to work on electronics or signal related equipment.
Sgt. Michael McDonald, a HCLOS team chief and senior transmission operator, explained that for the exercise they were using a HCLOS setup on site shooting to another HCLOS setup at their motorpool linked in to the hub on USAG Humphreys. The HCLOS, which both transmits and receives data, was used he said, because it is a very reliable platform, that can be used without concern for weather. McDonald said it also has more bandwidth than a Satellite Transportable Terminal. "The only problem is that it is line of sight, so I do have to have a clear shot. With the HCLOS setup here, Captain Rodriguez will always have his emails," said McDonald.
The Soldiers were generally excited about participating in the exercise. McDonald was very passionate about the support his team provided saying, "Whenever they ask if I want to do HCLOS stuff I say, let's go for it. I love it."
"The FTX has been a great learning experience for me, because I had never been on the equipment, and here it's just me so I had to figure everything out myself and it has really pushed me to learn as much as I could," said Pfc. Kelsey Anderson, Nodal Network Systems Operator-Maintainer. "So I'm really glad that we did it. It was really good training."
She explained that through the JNN they provided Non-Classified Internet Protocol Router Network (NIPR), Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPR), and Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange (CENTRIX-K) services, with voice and data- for the exercise.
Pfc. Arjenis Nunez, a food service specialist, explained his role in operating the MKT. He said they were feeding about 100 Soldiers for the exercise, but can feed up to a maximum number of 800 running at full capacity. Feeding the Soldiers is an important task, he related saying, "We make sure our Soldiers can keep functioning for missions."
Rodriguez said he felt that the field exercise was important to maintaining the readiness of his company. He said it allowed his Soldiers to hone in on network communication skills as well as low density, non-signal military occupational specialties, and come together and work as one team.
The 1st Signal Brigade enables joint and combined command, control, communications, computers, and information management operations throughout Korea to support United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command, United States Forces Korea, and Eighth Army's ability to lead, direct and maneuver available forces during armistice, crisis, or war.