By By Robert Dimichele (CECOM) PAOJune 24, 2014
Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.-- Brig. Gen. Bruce T. Crawford, commanding general of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, took the opportunity during a celebration of the Signal Corps' 154th anniversary to recognize the regiment's past contributions while addressing its relevancy for the future strategic environment.
The Signal Corps anniversary was a joint venture by the Aberdeen Chapter of the Armed Forces Communications-Electronics Association and the LTG(R) Alfred J. Mallete Chapter of the Signal Corps Regimental Association. More than 120 current and former members of the regiment as well as industry partners attended the event.
"Events like this are part of the proud Army tradition of fostering and preserving the esprit, tradition and cohesion of its regiments. But more importantly, events like this are a part of what makes us 'Professionals,'" Crawford said.
The Signal Corps traces its existence from June 21, 1860, when Congress authorized the appointment of one signal officer in the Army, and a War Department order carried the following assignment: "Signal Department--Assistant Surgeon Albert J. Myer to be Signal Officer, with the rank of Major, to fill an original vacancy."
Albert James Myer, an Army doctor, developed the idea of a separate, trained professional military signal service. He proposed that the Army use his visual communications system called "wigwag" while serving as a medical officer in Texas in 1856. When the Signal Corps was born, Myer was the first and only Signal officer.
The Signal Corps Regiment wasn't actually established until June 1986 when it was activated into the Army's newly created Regimental System. Crawford used the regiment's motto, "Pro Patria Vigilans," "Watchful for the Country" to emphasize the value of the Signal Corps' past accomplishments and the critical role it will play for the Army in the future.
"So to truly be "watchful for our country" we need to take into account the strategic challenges and opportunities that will define our future in a world that is growing more volatile, more unpredictable, and in some instances more threatening than ever," Crawford explained.
He went on to identify four key challenges the Signal Regiment must address to successfully meet the future. First, he cited strengthening the Army Profession. "We are in a noble, selfless calling that exists on a bedrock of trust. Strengthening the Army Profession is about living up to our solemn commitment to serve. Solving all other challenges is possible when we first understand our calling."
The second challenge he highlighted was that of developing and sustaining the workforce. Crawford emphasized, "This ladies and gentlemen is our collective competitive advantage. It's not a cliché to say that our most important resource is our hard working people around the world."
The third challenge facing the Signal Corps was that of evolving Signal enterprise processes. "We need to reassess our old processes and bring in new innovative enterprise solutions," he said.
And, the fourth challenge Crawford addressed was that of streamlining the way the Signal community acquires new capabilities. He said much more work was needed in this area to provide more flexibility in meeting requirements.
Crawford summarized his key points by saying "So, honor our Army Profession, it is our bedrock. Develop and sustain a winning workforce. Revolutionize our processes and innovate to keep our competitive edge."
As part of the anniversary celebration, the youngest and oldest members of the Signal Corps in attendance at the event cut helped cut a ceremonial cake with a saber. Spec. Lee Gannon, from the Headquarters, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, was the youngest Signal Soldier in attendance and Lt. Col. (ret.) Ed Carnes was the oldest. Joining Crawford, Gannon, and Carnes in the cake cutting were Col. Joe Dupont, the current president of the LTG(R) Alfred J. Mallete Signal Corps Regimental Association, and CSM Kennis Dent, CECOM command sergeant major.
In addition, the Signal Corps Regimental Association honored Lt. Col. Rayfus J. Gary, the project manager for the Handheld, Manpack and Small Form Fit radio program, with the Bronze Order of Mercury, an honorary award from the Signal Regiment for accomplishments in his field.