By Capt. Traun C. Moore, 1st Signal Brigade Publlic Affairs OfficeSeptember 10, 2014
USAG YONGSON, South Korea- Strategic and tactical communications are vital for any Army leader to implement command and control initiatives across their formations both in operational and support capacities. The concept of being able to "Shoot, Move and Communicate" under duress can ultimately provide leaders with the information needed to make informed command decisions based on real time situation reports from their Soldiers on the ground.
The 1st Signal Brigade is a key component in providing communications services to customers across the Korean Peninsula and proved to be up to the challenge during the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2014 exercise.
The mission of the 1st Signal Brigade during the UFG14 exercise was engineering, installing, operating, maintaining, defending and extending the strategic and tactical communications networks throughout the Korean Peninsula to enable mission command and training of the United Nations Command, the Combined Forces Command, the United States Forces Korea, the Eighth Army and the participating major subordinate commands.
The UFG14 exercise also gave the 1st Signal Brigade an opportunity to execute its operational plan during a simulated wartime mission while integrating and training new Soldiers and leaders of the brigade.
The subordinate units and directorates of the 1st Signal Brigade were widespread over the course of the exercise enhancing mission command through reliable communications support across the Korean Area of Operations, also building upon lessons learned from past exercises while refining and improving their service capabilities.
Capt. Michael Chezum, commander, Charlie Company, 304th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 1st Signal Brigade, and members of Charlie Company were collocated with the Eighth Army Main Command Post at New Mexico Range, South Korea.
"Charlie Company has been tasked with providing Eighth Army teams and its major subordinate commands with communications support," said Chezum. "This is my second UFG exercise and hands down this is the best exercise that I have personally been involved with. Our teams have been trained and have been able to bring up their equipment more frequently over the past four months as compared to the previous exercises. That has translated into our teams being more knowledgeable and able to provide better service to our customers. We want to continue to build on the successes that we have had during UFG14."
The underlying significance that has been echoed by leaders of the 1st Signal Brigade has been the chance for the junior Soldiers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Officers to see firsthand the impact that flexible and consistent strategic and tactical communications support helps commanders to see the battlefield and exercise mission command.
"The experience gained from this exercise has helped our junior Soldiers gain a deeper understanding outside of what they were taught in AIT (Advanced Individual Training) and they are getting their first taste of what it's like to be an Army communicator in a real world scenario," states Maj. Patrick Clary, operations officer, 36th Signal Battalion, 1st Signal Brigade. "They are also being exposed to the mission command aspect of our mission and they witness how high level General Officers battle track and conduct mission command through the services we provide. It has been an eye-opening experience for our junior Soldiers to see how strategic communications helps tactical commanders track the battlefield."
After participating in his first Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise, Command Sgt. Maj. Andy Frye, brigade command sergeant major, 1st Signal Brigade, shared his thoughts on the outcome of the exercise.
"I expected to see our Soldiers exercising both the tactical and strategic networks at a higher level because of increased usage and use of our systems in places where they are not normally set up. I was impressed with our Soldiers during the exercise and observing how they implemented the use of all of their systems," said Frye. "The fact that there were a minimal number of service interruptions throughout the exercise is rare and speaks volumes of the hard work of our Soldiers. They displayed a fantastic attitude and were willing to chip in and help one another to accomplish the mission."
In the end, the 1st Signal Brigade enabled joint and combined command, control, communications, computers and information management operations throughout Korea to support the United Nations Command, the Combined Forces Command, United States Forces Korea and Eighth Army's ability to lead, direct and maneuver their forces throughout the Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise.