By Mr. William B King (2nd Signal Brigade)July 5, 2017
SIBIU, Romania -- Two small Signal teams operating remotely in northern Romania are providing the communications and network support necessary to keep Soldiers and supplies moving during exercise Saber Guardian 17.
Exercise Saber Guardian 17, a U.S. Army Europe-led, multinational exercise, will take place in Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania from July 11-20, 2017. Saber Guardian 17 is larger in both scale and scope over its predecessors. Approximately 25,000 service members from 30 allied and partner nations will take part, and the exercise highlights participant deterrence capabilities, specifically the ability to mass forces at any given time anywhere in Europe.
A Command Post Node, or CPN, team in Cincu and a Secure Internet Protocol Router/Non-secure Internet Protocol Router (SIPR/NIPR) Access Point satellite terminal, or SNAP, team in Sibiu, both from Charlie Company, 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 2nd Theater Signal Brigade, are providing communications and network support to the 497th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 55th Sustainment Brigade, a U.S. Army Reserve unit.
Capt. Keith Parchen, the 497th CSSB S-3 Operations, Plans and Training and S-2 Intelligence and Security officer, said the battalion is coordinating logistics support for exercise Saber Guardian 17, including food, water, fuel, ammunition and maintenance.
"Communication is very important. We have to be able to communicate with our various logistics assets across the battlefield," Parchen said. "The better communications we have, the better support we can provide."
Sergeants or senior specialists lead teams of four to five Soldiers and routinely serve as the primary interface between the 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion and a supported unit in the field. These junior leaders are expected to be the technical experts on the ground and oversee the morale, welfare and training of the Soldiers assigned to them, many times operating remotely and in austere conditions.
In Cincu, Spc. Isaiah Myles is serving as a CPN team chief for the first time. He said his team has overcome challenges of weather and terrain to deliver critical network services to the 497th CSSB headquarters, helping ensure U.S. forces are fully fed, fueled and ready.
"If I can learn to be a team chief in these harsh conditions, I can do it anywhere," Myles said.
He said one of the biggest lessons he has learned as a new team chief is how to speak with higher-ranking leaders from other units and to make his voice heard.
Parchen credited the CPN team with providing excellent support and troubleshooting to the battalion.
"Out here it's one team, one fight, and they're part of our team," Parchen said.
Spc. Justin Pelzer, a CPN operator, said his team has integrated well into the 497th CSSB.
"They've been very supportive of us. They have a good S-6 shop we work well with," Pelzer said.
In Sibiu, Sgt. Andrew Austin and SNAP Team 71 are providing support to the 742nd Support Maintenance Company, part of the South Carolina National Guard. The 742nd SMC is operating a convoy support center, resupplying Soldiers and trucks as they move into Romania for Saber Guardian.
"It's been very interesting working with different units, including the National Guard and Reserve," Austin said.
He said he has enjoyed living and working with Romanian Soldiers, trading patches with them and building relationships.
"We're not just representing our unit, we're representing America and everything we stand for," Austin said.
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.