FORT MCCOY, WI- Approximately 250 Soldiers from the 35th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, U.S. Army Reserve-Puerto Rico, the only federal Army Signal Command in the Caribbean, are currently conducting their annual training until Aug 24, in support to the Army Reserve Combat Support Training Exercise.
The unit's mission is to support a robust multi-layered tactical communications network comprised of fiber optics, high capacity line of site, satellite transmission and switching systems.
"In my 21 years of service, I can honestly say that this is the smoothest training exercise I have ever participated of. It is really smooth," said Lt. Col. Richard Tuggle, commander of the 35th Expeditionary Signal Battalion.
According to Tuggle, the Soldiers are not only performing their mission superbly, but are also sustaining their readiness.
"We have a double mission here. Our troops are engineering, installing and operating voice and data services, but also they have time, to prepare their records for their next promotion boards and to work in their physical fitness," added Tuggle.
Meanwhile, the Battalion Command Sgt. Maj., Command Sergeant Major Rafael Saldaña, expressed his confidence in the ability of his Soldiers to accomplish any mission.
"Our Soldiers do not have any real challenges here," said Saldaña.
He also stated that the exercise is having a clear positive impact in the unit.
"We are not only accomplishing the communications mission, we are also creating a good environment for the troops. We are onto something very good here," said Saldaña.
According to Tuggle, one of the main reasons the Soldiers are doing so well during this annual training is because they had a real life validation of their newly received equipment, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria last year.
The troops assigned to the 35th Expeditionary Signal Battalion played a critical role during the hurricane emergency by successfully conducting Defense Support to Civil Authorities operations, and establishing communication nodes around the island.
"Just before the hurricane, the unit got new equipment. The emergency allowed our Soldiers to practice their proficiency skills, while serving the local community in Puerto Rico," added Tuggle.
The performance of these Soldiers while engineering complex communication networks in austere environments, clearly showcases the level of professionalism and technological proficiency of the members assigned to the Army Reserve in Puerto Rico.