Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wa. - Maj. Ryan Collins, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) signal officer, was awarded the Army Special Operations Forces Communicator of the Year on April 18, 2018 for being the officer who provided the most significant contributions towards the special operations force mission of providing command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) support in both garrison and tactical environments.
The award was created in 2012 by the Chief Information Officer of the U. S. Army Special Operations Command. The award has five categories of recipients: junior enlisted, senior enlisted, warrant officer, officer, and civilian. It is awarded to USASOC communicators who display the highest ethical standards of military service.
"I was not expecting recognition," said Collins about receiving the award.
Collins commissioned on May 27, 2006, upon his graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point. He has been serving in the 1st SFG (A) for almost two years.
Collins said it was an adjustment coming from a conventional army communications background to the high demands of special operations unit. The 1st SFG (A) is regionally aligned to the Pacific region, an area Collins has visited nearly a dozen times during his assignment. In fact, Collins was in Asia and missed the awards ceremony at Fort Bragg, N.C.
"We are an extremely busy organization," Collins said. "I think everyone in the unit works to build our interoperability with our regional partners."
A unit's signal officer is ultimately responsible for ensuring the commander can communicate both down to lower, and up to higher levels of command. This process is even more complicated when a special operations unit has to communicate with foreign partners in different geographic locations with language barriers.
"Our team works hard to find innovative solutions to accomplish the mission," Collins said. "Army special operations are required to be agile and adaptive to the environment."
Collins attributed the award to his team, and noted that it is allotted fewer personnel to accomplish a larger mission than a conventional army communications section.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Mark Smith, a senior information systems technician, said Maj. Collins' work with communications and automations systems across the 1st SFG (A) area of responsibility is one of many things that makes him stand out.
"He has an uncanny ability as a leader to inspire our team to get better each and every day," Smith said.
"The award is indicative Ryan's exceptional ability to contribute to unit readiness for a range of missions," said. Col. Will Beaurpere, the 1st SFG (A) commander. "We rely heavily on all of our communicators to link us with our operational detachments and higher headquarters on the modern battlefield."