Whether it is commanders providing orders to their subordinates, or units coordinating to effectively complete the mission on the battlefield, communication is vital. The task of ensuring that soldiers have the ability to the communicate falls on the Army's Nodal network systems operator-maintainer.
There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to ensure that clear and reliable channels of communication are not only developed, but also maintained. For network systems operators, when everything is running smoothly, the effort that goes into creating their complex communication networks often goes unnoticed. Many times, it isn't until communication systems are disabled that others notice how critical they are.
"It is our job as node operators to keep the digital network up and running," said Pfc. Anthony Harman from Harbor City, California, who is currently serving in America's First Corps Signal, Intelligence and Support Company. "We set up and maintain video teleconferences, a digital voice network and unclassified and classified internet service."
The importance of Harman's job is particularly evident during training exercises. These exercises are where communications operators and maintainers develop their skills to prepare for real world missions. During a recent I Corps training exercise, Warfighter Exercise 19-1, Harman and his team participated in organizational training that included units from across America's First Corps and attached components from the Army National Guard. This gave the entire I Corps communications team the opportunity to hone their skills as network operators and maintainers through simulated battle drills.
"Exercises like Warfighter Exercise 19-1 are important because they help the units stay mission capable." Said Spc. David Zuefelt, a native of Anaheim, California.
Zuefelt, also with I Corps' signal company, appreciates the opportunities to practice his craft during training exercises. "They allow for us to grow and learn our job in a controlled environment, so that when the time comes that we have to do this for real we can accomplish our mission with minimal issues."
Running a digital network across a battlefield can be a complex task. With the technology and fighting capabilities for the U.S. Army constantly changing and improving to meet the challenges of modern warfare, the node operators must work together to improve their skills to meet these challenges.
"From the Chiefs that review mission requirements and plan out the network layouts to the lower enlisted that physically set up and maintain it, it takes teamwork to keep everything running smooth, because of all of the aspects necessary to run the network," said Zuefelt.
As America's First Corps continues to maintain and build upon the critical capabilities necessary to deploy, fight, and win decisively, the signal teams ensure that soldiers can communicate no matter where the battle takes them.