Fort Detrick, Md. -- When she joined the Army seven years ago, the now 29-year-old commander of Company A, 53rd Signal Battalion never imagined she would one day be in charge of a $55 million, state-of-the-art military facility.
Capt. Amber Hagy, commander of Company A at the Wideband Satellite Communications Operations Center, Fort Detrick, Maryland, ensures 10 Wideband Global SATCOM satellites and two Defense SATCOM System satellites are operational and provide wideband payload control, transmission control, and defensive space control for the warfighter, Department of Defense and international partners’ communications.
“It’s pretty empowering to walk in (the WSOC) every day and say, ‘Holy cow, what company commander in the Army has actual control of a facility?’ They are trusting company-grade officers to manage this facility,” Hagy said. “That’s why this is such a big role, and we are one of a handful in the DOD doing this mission for the wideband satellites. Even in the (Army) signal community, most people don’t know WSOCs exist or what they do.”
This WSOC is one of five located worldwide that are assigned to the U.S. Army Satellite Operations Brigade: Fort Detrick and Fort Meade, Maryland; Wahiawa, Hawaii; Landstuhl, Germany; and Okinawa, Japan. They provide uninterrupted mission assurance to access the DOD Information Network for thousands of global users across the joint, interagency, intergovernmental and multinational user base. They ensure critical communications, whether passed through a strategic terminal in Iraq, a ground unit, or a submarine surfacing, are robust and reliable.
One of Hagy’s role as commander of her company is to maintain good order, discipline, and to make sure everything at the WSOC is running smoothly.
“If I don’t have happy Soldiers, they’re not performing at their best,” Hagy said. “Typically, I don’t micromanage the Soldiers at all. I allow the Soldiers to do the mission. I just want to make sure they are doing it right and I have the right personnel at the correct positions.”
Hagy is a military brat who claims Pittsburgh as home. Her father is a retired Air Force master sergeant. She graduated from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in communication emerging technology and multimedia. She commissioned as an officer through the university’s ROTC program.
Highlights of her career include worldwide travels including a deployment to Kuwait and two deployments to Africa – a bucket list destination she had always wanted to visit that she said was sparked by the 1994 animated Disney movie “The Lion King.”
“I’ve always had a passion for Africa,” Hagy said. “I really embraced the culture there. I went to Tanzania and Malawi. I taught English to kids for a humanitarian mission in Tanzania the first time around, and I was the field ordering officer for the 2014 Southern Accord mission, which means I was out in the community buying supplies interacting with the locals.”
Hagy has shifted gears the last couple of years and settle down since the birth of her two boys. She raises them with her husband, an intelligence officer at Fort Meade, Maryland, whom she met in college.
“It’s a challenge having two young children, especially being in command,” Hagy said. “Having to constantly balance my limited number of daycare hours during this pandemic; we are teleworking one minute, and in the office the next - it’s a lot – and it’s definitely realigned my focus and priorities.”
And for now, her most important priority after her family is to make sure the WSOC in online and functioning smoothly – a job she enjoys.
“I just love waking up in the morning and not knowing what I am going to do that day,” Hagy said. “Generally there is a set schedule but that tends to go out the window. There’s new challenges all the time, especially here at the WSOC.
“I love puzzles to solve and there’s always something new to troubleshoot with communications, whether it’s here within our facility or overseas,” Hagy said. “I’ve had some unique jobs in the military, but this has been my favorite so far.”