WIESBADEN, Germany -- U.S. Army Signal Soldiers assigned to the 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 2nd Theater Signal Brigade, are in the field enabling mission command for units participating in exercise Combined Resolve VIII at the Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels Training Areas in southeastern Germany, April 19 to June 16, 2017.
Exercise Combined Resolve VIII includes more than 3,400 participants from 10 NATO ally and partner nations, including Albania, Finland, Hungary, Kosovo, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia, Ukraine and the United States.
Alpha Company, 44th Expeditionary Signal Bn. has four Command Post Node (CPN) teams providing voice and data over Non-secure Internet Protocol Router Network (NIPRnet), Secure Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRnet), and coalition network to U.S. Army Europe assigned units, regionally allocated forces, and NATO allies and partners participating in the exercise.
Speaking at the Hohenfels Training Area June 2, 2nd Lt. Aaron Fichter, a platoon leader assigned to Alpha Co., 44th Expeditionary Signal Bn., said a focus for his teams during Combined Resolve VIII is to practice how to more aggressively integrate into a supported unit and learn its day-to-day operations to better support it throughout the mission.
"It's important because it could even potentially change how a foreign ally operates communications wise," Fichter said.
Throughout the exercise, Fichter's CPN teams will provide communications support to an 3rd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Division and Hungarian forces.
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Zachary Reid, 3rd Bn., 29th FA Regt., S-6 Communications and Information Management officer in charge, said being able to talk with subordinate units is the No. 1 priority.
"If we can't talk, then we can't shoot. Communications are key -- if the gun line cannot communicate with higher headquarters, then they cannot fire upon the enemy," Reid said.
The 3rd Bn., 29th FA Regt. provides fires support for Europe's regionally allocated forces.
According to Reid, the battalion is also integrating a Romanian Battery into their unit during Combined Resolve VIII to exercise interoperability with NATO allies.
"It's nothing short of amazing to see that we can come together, plan together and fight together efficiently and effectively," Reid said.
He said 3rd Bn., 29th FA Regt., has previously worked with the 44th Expeditionary Signal Bn. in Poland and Romania, and described the unit's Soldiers as highly trained and professional.
"The 44th (Expeditionary Signal Battalion) has definitely been there when we needed them," Reid said.
Command Sgt. Maj. Chad Yeager, 44th Expeditionary Signal Bn. senior enlisted leader, visited the unit's Soldiers at the exercise and emphasized the importance of the job they perform as part of the only expeditionary signal battalion in Europe and Africa.
"You're the only guys doing what you do in this theater," Yeager said. "It's important to get out here and get as fully integrated as possible with the units you are providing communications support to."
In addition to supporting Combined Resolve VIII in Hohenfels, the 44th Expeditionary Signal Bn. is currently providing tactical communications and support to ongoing missions across the U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command areas of operation, including NATO's enhanced Forward Presence battlegroup in Poland.
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.