WIESBADEN, Germany -- A man in a suit casually walked into a hotel pulling a large case then checked in to a room. Once inside he surveyed the room, opened his case and began setting up a suite of computers and communications equipment. He only had a tight 30-minute deadline to establish a secure connection before the commanding general had to take an important video teleconference call.
While the scenario above describes a training event Feb. 19, 2019, in Wiesbaden, it represents a typical mission for members of one of 2d Theater Signal Brigade's Commanding General's Communications Teams.
"Our job is to make sure that the CG can communicate anywhere in the world, no matter what. That's what the Signal Corps is all about, getting the message through," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael Philbert, U.S. Army Europe CG Communications Team officer in charge.
He said the CG communications teams face unique challenges every day to enable mobile communications for senior leaders, whether in a hotel in a foreign country, the back of a moving vehicle or in an airplane.
"Every hotel is different and employs different security protocols. The way we actually maintain proficiency is to evaluate their ability to work through all the different challenges they may encounter in a hotel," Philbert explained.
During the exercise five teams were evaluated on their ability to set up voice and data communications over Non-Secure Internet Protocol Router (NIPR) and Secure Internet Protocol Router (SIPR) networks, and to troubleshoot issues following the established PACE (Primary, Alternate, Contingency and Emergency) plan.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Daniel Hanson, team lead assigned to the U.S. Army Europe CG Communications Team, said the value of the exercise is in training how you fight.
"In a real situation with limited time, limited resources, unfamiliar area, you have to be confident in your equipment, confident in your abilities, confident in your troubleshooting tasks, and most of all, you have to be calm as you work through it," Hanson said.
The U.S. Army Europe CG Communications Team has found solutions to communications issues that have become standard practice for other teams across the Army, as well as implemented commercially for businesses such as Vodafone.
"This is a place where innovation happens. On the commo team you have to have a mile deep and in multiple disciplines - you're expected to be the subject matter expert," Philbert said.
"In my 14 years this is the only assignment that I've ever had where I've actually been able to do everything that my (Military Occupational Specialty) encompasses, and more," said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Tayibat Agbabiaka, the U.S. Army Europe CG Communications Team noncommissioned officer in charge, and a MOS 25B Information Technology Specialist.
She said some other benefits of working on the CG communications team include traveling to interesting places and being able to see firsthand how your work enables senior leaders to command and interact with ambassadors, foreign leaders, allies and partners. Agbabiaka said that while the work is extremely rewarding, it isn't for everyone.
"We're definitely looking for self-starters, people who live the NCO creed and have the values. You have to care about the mission to be successful in this field and allow our commanders to be successful," Agbabiaka said.
"Definitely, character is the no. 1 attribute," Philbert added. "You can train technical skill, but you can't train character."
Among other qualifications, CG communications team candidates must be in the ranks of E5 to E7 or CW2 to CW3 in one of the following MOSs: 25B, 25Q, 25U, 255A or 255N. The 2d Theater Signal Brigade has five CG communications teams across Europe supporting senior leaders at U.S. European Command, U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Army Europe, U.S. Army Africa, and the NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe. For more information and to request an application packet, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.