FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq-Signal Corps Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division met June 19 at Forward Operating Base Warrior, for their first in-theater non-commissioned officer development program to discuss lessons learned from the first six months of deployment and to develop plans for the next six months.

Master Sgt. Elvin Thompson, a Montevallo, Ala. native, and the 2nd BCT communications chief, met with Signal Corps NCOs to discuss the 500 Day Campaign, a campaign for leaders to look at the direction the Signal Corps is going, resolutions for issues the Signal Corps has found during this deployment and how to improve its future posture for the brigade.

"This is the leadership of the Signal Corps in the brigade," Thompson said. "We have a huge mission here and I wanted to bring the team together to share information to build a better, stronger team."

Thompson, who has 21 years Signal Corps experience and is on his third deployment to Iraq, said his NCOs were enthusiastic about the training. The NCOs in attendance brought a wealth of information that they readily shared with one another. From topics such as how to conduct training to the development of future communications systems, the Soldiers discussed resolutions to problems they have encountered since arriving in theater.

"We talked about lessons we have learned since deploying," said Staff Sgt. Veronica Tovar, Brownsville, Texas native and an information systems operator in 2nd BCT, 1st Cav Div.

Tovar said within the brigade communications section there are network operations, automations, and communications security sub-sections that were having difficulty coordinating efforts together.

"We learned to open lines of communications within the brigade and conduct networking for problem solving," Tovar said.

During the presentation, Thompson discussed problems with lines of communication due to a lack of range within specific communication systems, properly installing equipment, maintenance problems on older equipment, and software compatibility issues.

Several of 2nd BCT's signal Soldiers assigned to 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd BCT, at Forward Operating Base McHenry had specific challenges related to their location.

"We have terrain features which make communications difficult," said Staff Sgt. James Kelly, Miami native and a signal support systems specialist with 1st Bn., 8th Cav. Regt. "Through this training I can show Soldiers another avenue to reach outside of our Bn. for help."

Thompson also discussed new assignments within the career field and career advancements available to them and their Soldiers. He told his NCOs to continue making themselves available to their Soldiers.

"Our Soldiers are the most important system we have," he said. "We can have great equipment, but without our Soldiers, it's worthless."

Elvin plans another NCODP with his Soldiers prior to redeployment to discuss preparations for the brigade Signal team at Ft. Hood, Texas.