U.S. Army Pvt. Nathan Kipp, left, and U.S. Army Cpl. Morgan Long, 156th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, Michigan Army National Guard, set up signal communications during annual training, Fort Custer Training Center, Augusta, Michigan, June 21, 2021. The Soldiers were conducting a battalion command post exercise and providing network support for simulated brigade and battalion size elements. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. David Eichaker)
U.S. Army Pvt. Nathan Kipp, left, and U.S. Army Cpl. Morgan Long, 156th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, Michigan Army National Guard, set up signal communications during annual training, Fort Custer Training Center, Augusta, Michigan, June 21, 2021. The Soldiers were conducting a battalion command post exercise and providing network support for simulated brigade and battalion size elements. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. David Eichaker) (Photo Credit: Master Sgt. David Eichaker) VIEW ORIGINAL

AUGUSTA, Mich. – Michigan Army National Guard Soldiers with the 156th Expeditionary Signal Battalion honed their skills June 21 at Fort Custer Training Center, setting up satellite communications during an annual training exercise.

“We’re here for AT and are conducting a battalion command post exercise,” said Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Perk, a platoon sergeant with the 156th ESB. “We received a mission last night to get communications set up this morning in support of a simulated task force. We are providing network support for a brigade and battalion size elements.”

The satellite communication systems operator-maintainer installs and operates strategic multichannel satellite communications ground terminals, systems, networks and associated equipment. These resources ensure effective communication channels are maintained while service members are deployed where this infrastructure might not exist.

“We support missions and set up communications at locations such as forward observation bases,” said Pvt. Sage Hess, assigned to the 156th ESB. “We can set up in just about every environment to provide that support.”

Satellite systems and networks keep units updated and informed with real-time communications and can support joint environments.

“If the infantry needs to communicate with the Air Force, that information would go through our communications systems to ensure the message is relayed,” said Hess.

Signal units are critical to the success of supporting missions.

“Communications is the highest priority,” said Hess. “If we don’t know what other units need and can’t communicate, then decisions can’t be made.”

All National Guard members train for two weeks every year to ensure mission readiness. The structured individual and unit readiness training also enables noncommissioned officers to develop leadership skills.

“As a platoon sergeant, having the ability to train and mentor Soldiers is very rewarding, so I enjoy coming to AT,” said Perk. “I get to know our Soldiers and prepare them for their jobs.

“I hope to make them not only better Soldiers but inspire them to be better people,” he said.

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