NAVAL SUPPORT FACILITY DEVESELU, Romania Typically, when one thinks of rapid deployments units in the U.S. Army they might think of Special Forces, Rangers or elements of the 18th Airborne Corps. With those rapid deployments comes the need for support elements and 2nd Platoon, B Company, 51st Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 35th Signal Brigade has answered the call supporting back-to-back rotations with less than a month in between arriving in Mihail Kog?lniceanu, Romania April 28.
The 51st ESB's mission is to rapidly deploy worldwide to engineer, install, operate, maintain and defend the LandWarNet (LWN) in support of full-spectrum operations. Based out of Joint-Base Louis McChord, around 20 soldiers with the 51st ESB deployed to Israel to support Bravo Battery (THAAD), 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade for more six weeks. The same platoon maneuvered from their mission in Israel and continued their deployment landing in Romania to support Bravo Battery (THAAD), 62nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade for the duration of summer.
"It's our job to rapidly deploy and be able to provide world-class communication services to the warfighter anytime, anywhere." said Staff Sgt. Anthony Wooley, the platoon sergeant for 2nd platoon, B Company, 51st ESB.
"There are several challenges, but you never know what to expect," Wooley, a Lakeland, Florida native said. "It could be a challenge with the weather or the terrain in the different countries. You also never know what to expect from the different units that you are supporting. Every unit is unique and has a different set of mission requirements so you have to be flexible and roll with it."
Wooley said that the amount of personnel brought in depends on the scope of the mission.
"When the mission begins, we work very long hours, he said. "Once we are in system and all our communications are up and running, we can rotate our shifts accordingly depending on mission requirements. It's all about accomplishing the mission successfully and supporting our customers."
Despite the high operations tempo, Wooley said his team adjusts well under pressure.
"I'm proud of the way our team has come together these last couple months, he said. "It's been challenging in a lot of ways; we have a lot of young soldiers just out of AIT who have never left the country before so this is their first experience with anything like this. I'm proud of how hard everyone is working and I think our customers have been really happy."
2nd Lt. Shawn Watson, the platoon leader for 2nd platoon, B Company, 51st ESB said that the signal team's mission in Romania is to provide support to B-62 THAAD with Internet and phone connections as well as back hauling data the unit collects and help them integrate into the global ADA mission.
"As the platoon leader, it is important for me to gather requirements from B-62, understand their needs, and distribute those needs to my team to ensure they give the best support possible," Watson said.
As with any deployment, maintenance can be a daunting challenge.
"Maintaining and making sure all equipment stays up and running can be a challenge," Watson said. "It's not like we can go back to our motor pool and refit. We have to get things shipped forward so that's a big challenge. We also have to perform maintenance on things we would have relied on a mechanic or technician to do, so out here we have to step up and ensure those things happen."
"I think the team really enjoys the whole process as we get the opportunity to provide internet connectivity and global communications to these units in a location which is essentially the middle of nowhere," Watson said. "We can set up a full-spectrum of secure and unsecure internet, phones and video teleconferences so it is energizing to see that come together. It's a great accomplishment for us and getting to see this product that we are providing the customers is really exciting."
Spc. Casey Todd, a multi-channel systems operator assigned to 51st ESB, is on his first overseas deployment since he joined the unit last December.
"It's my first time leaving the country," Todd, who hails from Riverdale, California said. "I couldn't be more excited to be a part of this mission."
Todd said his job is to set up the Satellite Terminal Trailer (STT) and get it locked onto a satellite. He hopes to gain more depth in his knowledge of his job from his Team Chief and become more proficient during the deployment.
"Things happen with equipment sometimes and you get a really good opportunity to troubleshoot, practice and improve in your job a little bit more each time," Casey said. "You might not always have these opportunities available back home."
"I'm glad I'm here. I came out with an awesome group of guys and we are getting to know each other better while performing our jobs."