WIESBADEN, Germany -- U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 2nd Theater Signal Brigade, deployed to the field to train and validate teams, processes and procedures during exercise Heavy METL II May 4-12, 2017 near Illesheim, Germany.
The training is a culminating exercise that will certify the unit's Soldiers and teams for the year in the individual and collective tasks required to deploy and provide communications support for the upcoming Saber Guardian exercise and to Operation Atlantic Resolve.
"The training exercise reinforces the 'fight tonight' attitude that we are trying to instill in the Soldiers. It's the opportunity to do those fundamentals of install, operate, maintain and defend communications systems, which is their (Mission Essential Task List) task," said Lt. Col. Adam Sannutti, commander of the 44th Expeditionary Signal Bn.
Capt. James Griffes, commander of Charlie Company, 44th Expeditionary Signal Bn., said the training focuses on skills such as site selection, crew drills, camouflage, network operations, radio etiquette and convoy operations.
"When they leave here our (Command Post Node) teams will be trained according to Army standard. We'll also be validated for the year and prepared to go out on mission. It gives us all the way up that confidence in the equipment and the personnel," Griffes said.
As part of the exercise, Griffes said teams had jumped locations about eight times so far, each time going through the process of set up, establishing network connectivity, then tear down and movement. Each team is evaluated against standards and for time according to the Digital Master Gunnery tables, which serves as the battalion-level training validation.
Griffes said each 4-5 Soldier team is led by a junior noncommissioned officer, usually a sergeant, who is responsible for providing communications support and caring for their team while operating in a forward and sometimes austere environment. He described this experience as an excellent junior leader development opportunity unique to Europe.
"Rarely, I would say, does an E-5 in the U.S. Army have this much responsibility to take care of the Soldiers underneath them and also get their systems up and attach themselves to their supported unit, from Latvia to Bulgaria or wherever they're at," Griffes said.
Sgt. Audi Khamkaew, a CPN team chief assigned to Charlie Company, 44th Expeditionary Signal Bn., said his team provides secure and non-secure voice and data connectivity so customers can communicate, access the internet and call DSN phones.
"Our goal coming out here was to complete Tables I, II and III, including a night jump, and now we've accomplished that," Khamkaew said. "Troubleshooting has been big. We've also done cross-training between Soldiers and (Military Occupational Skills), as well as basic Soldier skills."
Sannutti said company-level field training exercises such as Heavy METL II enable training at the Soldier and team level and lay the foundation for the unit's success. He said he anticipates all teams will complete the training objectives and be validated and ready to deploy at a moment's notice and provide communications support to U.S. forces and our NATO allies and partners across Europe.
2nd Theater Signal Brigade conducts Department of Defense Information Network operations to enable mission command in support of U.S. Army, Joint and multinational operations throughout the U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command areas of operation.