Through my many years of service to the United States Army in both the Infantry and now the Signal Corps, I have routinely come in contact with Signal Soldiers who fail to grasp their importance to the success of the missions they support. It is understandable. Many Soldiers are new to the Army and have yet to see the tremendous impact their communication duties have on operations. Even seasoned leaders sometimes fail to realize the effect they and their sections could have on the Multi-Domain Operations against a possible near-peer or peer threat.
For over a decade the United States Army has been primarily focused on combating terrorism worldwide. During that time our adversaries, such as China and Russia, have improved their military technology and capabilities, rivalling the US Military. As the US Army shifts its focus back to large-scale combat operations against rival peer and near-pear threats, Signal Soldiers and leaders should understand their importance and value to the MDO fight.
According to TRADOC Pamphlet 525-3-1, "Multi-Domain Operations is an operational-level military concept designed to achieve US strategic objectives articulated in the National Defense Strategy, specifically deterring and defeating China and Russia in competition and conflict." This strategic competition is already taking place in the Cyber and Space domains. If international relations deteriorate to a level that constitutes war, the US Military will move into the other three domains: Land, Sea, and Air. A Signal Soldier is there to ensure everything is connected at the point of friction for the tactical, operational, and strategic fight in all five domains.
Signal Soldiers are present at strategic level whole of government efforts with units like the White House Communication Agency. The White House Communications Agency is one-of-a-kind joint service organization dedicated to providing premier information service and communications support to the President. The President is at the top of whole of government efforts to ensure international relations remain at a level below the threshold of war. The Signal Soldiers of WHCA, with their joint forces counterparts, provide the vital and critical links down to operational commanders through the proper chain of commands.
The operational level of command links strategic goals down to the tactical aspect of gains on the ground during a conflict. Again, there will be a Signal Soldier present to ensure communications are reliable and seamless.
One example of communications that link the strategic to the tactical would be the Signal Brigades. The 1st Theater Tactical Signal Brigade mission is to link units in the Korean Theater of Operations (KTO) to the direction and orders given by the Unified Nations Command, the Combined Forces Command, United States Forces Korea and 8th Army.
Tactical level Signal Soldiers serve in every unit across the US Army. Every Army unit has some form or fashion of an S6 section that supports the commander's mission with communications. An Infantry Battalion has a mix of FM communication assets such as the Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS), a version of the Harris tactical satellite communications (SATCOM), and a Joint Capabilities Release (JCR) depending on their Table of Organization and Equipment (TO&E). These systems form the Battalion lower Tactical Internet network, commonly referred to as Lower TI.
That same Infantry Battalion may also have a Command Post Node (CPN), which will provide the Battalion with Upper Tactical Internet or Upper TI. The S6 section provides the commander with that vital internet connection to the higher headquarters. The Signal Soldier also provides commanders with Video Teleconferencing (VTC) capabilities through their CPN network. The information shared through both Upper TI and Lower TI networks is essential to mission success for that Battalion performing duties that support the Operational mission for the overall strategic goals set by leaders.
By providing these networks through various communication systems, Signal Soldiers allow maneuver units to seize objectives through combat actions. They support logistical companies in moving equipment to resupply all units on the battlefield. Signal Soldiers make it possible for Military Police Battalions to coordinate movement and provide mobility support operations on the battlefield.
Medical companies rely on Signal Soldiers to ensure communications are working to support the medical evacuation operations. Signal Soldiers are at every point of need for every unit in the US Army, ensuring the commanders' intent is delivered and heard.
Signal Soldiers must realize and understand their importance and value to whatever mission they support. Through all three levels of warfare and all five domains, Signal Soldiers are present and performing their duties with the utmost professionalism. Signal Soldiers, sections, and units are there, providing the critical link for units to coordinate putting rounds on target, moving necessary supplies across lines, ensuring medical evacuation networks are up and many more other vital operations that keep our Army poised for mission success.
This article was originally published in the Army Communicator e-publication which is a source of command information for the men and women of the United States Army Signal Corps.
This article and past publications can be found on the U.S, Army Signal School's website at https://cybercoe.army.mil/AC/archive.html