VICENZA, Italy - Company C, 54th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade Signal Company hosted a Radio-Telephone Operators (RTO) Academy for the Slovenian 1st Brigade Signal Company and U.S. paratroopers at Caserma Del Din, 15-18 November 2016 .

Over the course of four days, the multinational student body participated in hands on instruction on Army communication systems such as: ASIP's, MBITR's, AN/PRC 117(G)'s, AN/PRC-150's and JCR. Students first began in a classroom environment learning how to program, operate, and maintain the systems. They then moved outdoors where they constructed and set up different types of radio antennas.

"The course not only served to develop the new RTO's within the brigade, who are now able to return to their units and train their peers; but it also helped Signaleers like me build confidence in the knowledge I was teaching. I now have more faith and trust in my team's abilities to deploy and provide mission command support," said SPC Zacharia Engelhart, a Paratrooper from C Co, 54th BEB (A).

The academy provided baseline knowledge of RTO responsibilities and unit tactical communication systems. This academy is one of many iterations that serve to develop confident radio operators capable of deploying at a moment's notice and providing reliable tactical communications for their respective unit commands.

"Our partnership is greatly strengthened by the continued interoperability exchange opportunities that we have planned throughout the year. We look forward to future training opportunities where we can share our communications systems and experiences in the field," said SGT Uros Sterle, an NCO from the Slovenian 1st Brigade Signal Company.

On the final day of training, the Soldiers completed a comprehensive written test and practical exercise on how to setup an OE-254 to demonstrate the skills they learned throughout the week.
The RTO Academies, which take place once a quarter, will continue the focus on interoperability and tactical communication skills leading up to major field exercises such as Allied Spirit VI and Saber Guardian.

The 173rd Airborne Brigade, is the Army's Contingency Response Force (ACRF) in Europe, providing ready forces to deploy anywhere in the U.S. European, Africa and Central Command areas of responsibility within 18 hours.