JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – The 7th Infantry Division (Bayonets) has developed an innovative approach to bridging the institutional to operational professional development gap with the implementation of their Battalion S6 Certification Course at JBLM. The Bayonet’s chief information section, the G6, hosted the fourth quarterly iteration of the Battalion S6 Certification Course here, Aug 3-7.

The week-long course, was designed in line with Bayonet commander Maj. Gen. Xavier T. Brunson’s command philosophy, to train junior Signal officers to be effective, energetic, and engaged within their organization, and certified them to meet the communications requirements of today’s warfighters.

“The program is open to officers and noncommissioned officers across JBLM, including America’s 1st Corps, 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, and 51st Expeditionary Signal Battalion,” said Maj. Kyle Barrett, Bayonet’s deputy chief information officer. “The primary audience for the course are those young officers and NCOs who are selected to serve as battalion level chief information officers prior to attending the Signal Captains Career Course or Battalion S6 Course at Fort Gordon, Georgia.”

These officers currently serve as primary staff officers, responsible for managing command and control systems to enable their commander to exercise mission command.

Mission Command is the Army’s philosophy of command through the authority of a commander using orders to enable and empower leaders to exercise initiative within the commander’s intent to accomplish a mission.

Some students are branch detailed lieutenants who previously served as platoon leaders or executive officers in Infantry, Armor, or Field Artillery units, while others have served as Signal platoon leaders or company executive officers.

“The BN S6 course was an amazing opportunity and experience that fully prepared myself for success,” said 1st Lt. Austin Lamicella, serving as a squadron chief information officer, S6, at 8th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

The course combined technical and doctrinal education with mentorship from senior officers and NCOs. Course instructors included former battalion and brigade S6s, and technical experts from the division staff including warrant officers and network engineers. NCOs from the rank of sergeant through sergeant major also shared their expertise and experiences.

“It began with an overview of the roles and responsibilities of the battalion level chief information officer. The discussion, led by former battalion and brigade subject matter experts, dove into expectations, relationships, and resources available,” said Barrett.

The instructors then provided a detailed explanation of the Military Decision-Making Process and the S6’s role in the operations process. The course then covered some of the systems and technical aspects of the S6 job including Mission Command Systems, Client and Server Operations, networking, WIN-T, Spectrum Management, Combat Net Radio, Cybersecurity, and communication security.

The course concluded with classes on maintenance and training followed by an in-depth discussion on how to build a Concept of Signal Support as part of the MDMP process.

The capstone event of the course included a board of field grade officers evaluating the students as they explained their own Concept of Signal Support, followed by a comprehensive online final exam.

Beyond the curriculum, guest lecturers hosted discussions with the students throughout the course.

Guest lecturers included several previous and current battalion commanders, a Signal first sergeant, and Brig. Gen. Robert Edmondson, the deputy chief of staff and chief information officer, U.S. Army Forces Command.

“Edmonson offered mentorship and guidance to the students on how to be an effective leader, team player, and communicator. All the guest lecturers shared their guidance, experience, advice, and expectations for leaders, staff officers, and Signaleers, which exposed students to a variety of perspectives from leaders of varying backgrounds,” said Barrett.

“The most rewarding aspect of the course was being taught the course material from officers who had previously been S6's and Soldiers who were SMEs [Subject Matter Experts] in their area, said Lamicella. “The instructors were able to convey the course information in a way that leveraged their past experience. So rather than just being taught a technical subject, they also incorporated their experience to better enhance our learning.”

Innovating out of necessity due COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, the course was hosted virtually through the application of the Microsoft Teams for the Army pilot program. It allows students and instructors to share presentations, files, briefings, and classes through text, audio, and video.

“By the end of the week, students had a solid technical and doctrinal grounding to serve as Battalion S6s,” said Major Kaden Koba, chief information officer, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade

Brig. Gen. Robert Edmonson II (top center), deputy chief of staff and chief information officer for U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) (G6), gives advice to JBLM information officers and communication specialists on how to be value-added communicators for their respective commands during a MS Teams conference, Aug. 7, 2020. Information officers and communication specialists from across the 7th Infantry Division footprint attended a MS Teams course to learn how to be more effective and instrumental for their battalions.
(Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Michael Armstrong, 7th Infantry Division)

. “More importantly, these young officers now have both a peer and mentor network within and beyond the Signal community to further their development and education. They know where to go and who to ask for questions on doctrine, leadership, and technical execution. Bayonet’s Battalion S6 Course provides not only an educational opportunity for these officers, but builds the team of Signal professionals across the Army. It serves as a model that other Divisions and installations could use to develop their own officers and teams.”