Challenging terrain provides realistic training for signal soldiers
By Lt. Col. Gregory MajewskiAugust 18, 2015
FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. - Signal soldiers from the 505th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade (TTSB) tested their network skills during a war exercise located on Fort Hunter Liggett last month taking advantage of its rugged terrain to provide the troops with the most realistic training possible.Located just outside the mountainous regions near Los Padres National Forest in Northern California, the different elevations of the post provided signaleers a series of infrastructure challenges to overcome, while providing basic computer access to all units participating in the exercise."There's no question terrain like this makes it challenging for our team," said Lt. Col. Ray Phariss, Commander, 98th Expeditionary Signal Battalion. "The realistic obstacles allow our planners to use all our signal resources and tools to meet the mission needs."Mountains and hills throughout Hunter Liggett block direct line-of-sight data transmissions from one location to the next, requiring signal engineers to develop a network which works with the terrain so units can gain access to the network just as they would in a real world scenario.
Commanding General for the 335th Signal Command (Theater), Brig. Gen. Christopher Kemp, paid a visit to the war exercise to talk to soldiers and to see the realistic training up close, stating he was impressed at the skills displayed by one of his command's battalions to get their network operational."There is no easy way to do things here and do what we designed these signal battalions to do," said Kemp. "To go from bare earth to a full network supporting customers speaks volumes of the talent here."The 91st Training Division's Warrior Exercise involves more than 4,000 soldiers and over 70 units from across the Army Reserve linked to the Big Lots West Exercise and the National Training Center Rotation.Sgt. Alicia Rosal from the 505th TTSB worked as the noncommissioned officer in charge in network operations for the exercise. She relished the role to expand her knowledge to become better at what she does."This is the first time I have had to see the big picture when it comes to network operations," said Rosal. "The experience I am gaining, especially in information assurance, is great while giving me a chance to excel."For Command Sgt. Maj. Brenda Acosta from the 505th hearing feedback from noncommissioned officers like Rosal about the successful focused training demonstrates why annual exercises like these are so important for Army Reserve soldiers."We train all year long for an exercise so when we come out here we gain valuable experience putting all that training throughout the year to good use," said Acosta.As the active duty force shrinks, annual training exercises like these demonstrate the importance and dedication of those Army Reserve soldiers participating, ready to step in when the nation calls."I really enjoy coming out to exercises like these and talking with signal soldiers one on one," said Kemp. "I truly appreciate their sacrifice they make to be here away from their families and all they do in service of our country."The 505th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade is part of the 335th Signal Command (Theater) which supports combat missions covering the Central Command area of responsibility which stretches from the Horn of Africa to Afghanistan.