By Spc. Matthew DrawdySeptember 1, 2019
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait- As part of being deployed, Army Reserve Soldiers with the Army Signal Corps must maintain a solid understanding of the systems they operate so they can set up communications wherever and whenever the mission dictates.
Soldiers with the 98th Expeditionary Signal Battalion have been conducting a series of emergency deployment readiness exercises throughout their deployment to maintain this level of understanding and readiness.
These missions have been conducted to help train Soldiers on the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical systems that they operate, and to prepare them for any task they may have.
"My primary intent was to be prepared to deploy our capabilities whenever we were called upon," said U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Col. Joseph Miller, commander, 98th ESB.
The 98th conducted the missions in three phases, crawl, walk, and run during the battalion's nine-month deployment to the Middle East.
"The crawl phase was all about reintroducing the soldiers to these systems," Miller said.
The crawl phase of the emergency deployment readiness exercises started during the second month of the deployment. During this phase, the Soldiers of the 98th focused solely on training and retraining on the WIN-T systems they were assigned.
They worked to improve their proficiency and understanding of the equipment that they would be using if called to set up communications somewhere in theater. Following the crawl phase, the walk phase-shifted the focus from training the soldiers to focusing on the equipment.
"My primary focus was to get Soldiers trained, and also ensure the equipment was ready to go at a moment's notice," Miller said.
The walk phase started in the third month of the deployment. During this phase, the Soldiers of the 98th would deploy the equipment outside of their tactical operations center and Army Logistics Operations center. While setting up the equipment outside these locations, the Soldiers of the 98th would run checks on their equipment to find any faults or issues with the equipment to get them fixed and prepared to move whenever needed.
They also trained on how to set up their equipment if called up to move somewhere in theater and run communications on a mission. After running diagnostics on their equipment and training how to operate it while deployed, the run phase-shifted the focus away from teaching to execution.
The run phase kicked off during the fifth month of their deployment was about simulating moving the unit's equipment to a new location and getting it online for a mission.
"We took the equipment out to training sites and timed the Solders on setting up the systems," Miller said.
Soldiers worked in four-person teams convoying their equipment to these training locations. Once at the training locations, they would have to set up their network the same way they would if forward-deployed on a mission, all while being timed by observers from the 98th.
While moving the equipment to these new sites, the soldiers had to utilize more than just their technical proficiency on their assigned equipment.
"The run phase was about executing the Soldier tasks that would be necessary for our Soldiers to deploy," Miller said.
While moving equipment to different sites, Soldiers had to use and improve tasks they would need to use if called up to deploy their equipment in support of a mission. This training included convoy operations and AM/FM radio operation skills. They also had to plan to bring supplies they would need if they had to deploy to a new location.
Through conducting these missions, Miller has seen the 98th improve in their understanding of the WIN-T systems and has plans to pass what he has seen to the replacement ESB.
"We intend to pass this on to the next unit so that they can improve as well," Miller said. "The hope is that over the years, we make this concept better and better as each group comes through."