By William B. King, 5th Signal Command Public AffairsNovember 3, 2015
WIESBADEN, Germany -- Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commander of U.S. Army Europe, has said on a number of occasions, "If I can't communicate, then I can't command."
The same holds true for the 4th Infantry Division as it establishes a new Mission Command Element (MCE) at Smith Barracks in Baumholder, Germany. In order to provide effective mission command over Regionally Allocated Forces (RAF) operating throughout Europe in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, the new command center needs the network infrastructure to be able to communicate.
A site survey was completed in late September by 4th Infantry Division, 5th Signal Command, 2nd Signal Brigade, the 102nd Signal Battalion and the 6981st Civilian Support Group and together a plan was made for how to upgrade the infrastructure and get the MCE on the network. The building the 4th Infantry Division MCE is now occupying had not been in use for some time and therefore needed significant communications and network upgrades.
"We're installing the cable and wiring in the building in accordance with 5th Signal Command standards and German power standards," said Guenter Volz, telecommunications manager in the 6981st CSG.
The 6981st CSG is a U.S. Army unit under 2nd Signal Brigade consisting exclusively of German civilians. The unit provides cost-efficient and high-quality installation work and solutions for passive inside and outside network upgrades, new installations or cable repair, whether it is copper or fiber optics.
Volz said it should take about three weeks to install the more than 8 kilometers (4.97 miles) of fiber optic and network cable, another 300 meters (984 feet) of power cable, more than 75 network drops and 25 power outlets.
Ted Ryon, NETOPS team lead for the 102nd Signal Battalion's Network Enterprise Center -- Baumholder, said the unit had to develop a plan, then configure switches and find equipment on short notice to get the MCE online. He credited a close working relationship with 4th Infantry Division MCE and other Team Signal partners throughout the project.
"It was a collaborative effort with 4ID (MCE), 102nd Signal Battalion, the 6981st, and all the way up to the brigade and 5th Signal," Ryon said.
Maj. Jose Rodriguez, the 4th Infantry Division MCE G6, also credited teamwork for the MCE's successful transition to Baumholder, especially considering the complexity of network connectivity associated with mission command for Operation Atlantic Resolve.
"The network build out for the 4ID MCE at Baumholder will allow us to continue to perform division-level mission command of RAF units and Allies across 10 countries within the Eastern European flank," Rodriguez said.
Col. Jimmy L. Hall Jr., commander of 5th Signal Command and the USAREUR chief information officer/G6, said the newly connected MCE would not only support building a Strong Europe, but is providing lessons learned across the Army for interoperability and support of Regionally Allocated Forces.
"The network build out in support of the MCE is also critical not just for Europe and our important role here, but will serve to inform the overall Army concept," Hall said.
5th Signal Command's mission is to build, operate and defend network capabilities to enable mission command and create tactical, operational, and strategic flexibility for Army, Joint and Multinational forces in the EUCOM and AFRICOM areas of responsibility.