USAG YONGSAN, Korea -- For soldiers from the 1st Signal Brigade, safeguarding communications networks during this year's annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise was another day of business as usual. The brigade kept communications running smoothly for more than 50,000 South Korean and 30,000 U.S. soldiers participating in the 2-week exercise, which began Aug. 22 and is among the largest joint exercises held each year.

The 1st Signal Brigade proved to be key component installing, operating, maintaining and defending the cyber network for customers across the Korean Peninsula during UFG, resolving 23 significant network related incidents including working resolutions on 2nd Infantry Division tactical and strategic network issues. The brigade activated or installed 1,423 DSN phone lines and established 196 NIPR, 52 SIPR and 1,426 CENTRIX accounts at various Command Post locations. Soldiers handled more than 12,564 trouble tickets throughout the exercise, activated and maintained 204 data circuits while maintaining higher than 99 percent reliability rate on both strategic and tactical networks.

Capt. Gage L. Adams, 169th Signal Company commander, 36th Signal Battalion, 1st Signal Brigade said the key to UFG is readiness. "The importance of UFG, is preparing for any eventuality on the Korean peninsula," Adams said. "A crucial part is providing a voice of command to the war fighters throughout Korea. Mission command capability is critical to give guidance, direction and communications in support of the overall mission."

Supporting communications throughout the Korean peninsula is a continuous effort that takes hard work and dedication and coordination. "2ID trains for eventuality. They are always ready to fight tonight. But our fight is every day and every night maintaining communications on the Korean peninsula," Adams said. "We keep our comms up and support every single warfighter in case of any contingency."

In addition to keeping the cyber network secure during UFG, the exercise provided valuable training opportunities for soldiers in the 1st Signal Brigade. Soldiers across the brigade responded to 17 Master Scenario Events List injects while working six internally within the brigade. These included: cyber related attacks, cyber security incidents, network outage response, execution of tasks in a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives environment, damaged tactical satellite assemblages and restoral of fiber lines at key facilities.

Pfc. Deanna Briones, a CBRNE specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 36th Signal Battalion, 1st Signal Brigade assisted training soldiers and civilians by giving a block of instruction on establishing shelter in place in a CBRNE environment and Noncombatant Evacuation. Briones said training soldiers and civilians during UFG is important in case of any contingency.

"It's important because it's good to utilize the time we to have to train," Briones said. "It's vital we know how to protect ourselves to continue on the mission."
Additionally, the brigade coordinated multiple internal MESL injects that tested basic soldier level tasks, network crisis response, casualty operations, and response to cyber actions against strategic and tactical networks.

Col. Scott A. Bird and Brigade Sergeant Major Donald A. Wilson, 1st Signal Brigade, visited corps and U.S. Army posts throughout Korea to meet soldiers and leaders to discuss the ways to strengthen the U.S. Army ROK Army alliance and encourage soldiers to actively participate in joint signal training. Additionally, the command team circulated the main operation sites to see the brigade's soldiers actively engaged in the exercise and carrying out their mission.

During UFG units across the peninsula relied heavily on the 1st Signal Brigade for communications and network support. "Communications is paramount throughout the whole thing, because no one else can reach any of their training objectives until we have already executed our mission to connect the various headquarters together so they can talk to each other," Bird said. "During armistice, during exercise or during wartime, the 1st Signal brigade does the same thing. Everything is real life messaging and no one can do what they do until we have already been successful."

Bird and Wilson visited the third Republic of Korea Army base in Yongin, Command Post TANGO in Seongnam, U.S. Army Garrsion Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, K-16 Air Base Army Base in Seongnam, U.S. Army Garrison Daegu, Rodriguez Live Fire Range and the Port of Busan in Korea Aug. 22 to Sept. 3, 2016 during battle field circulation for the 2016 Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise