Wahiawa, Hawaii –- All across the Pacific U.S. Forces may wear different uniforms but they all have one thing in common, the need for communications.
Last month, two Soldiers from Defender Company, 53rd Signal Battalion, U.S. Army Satellite Operations Brigade, did just that, by providing satellite communications assistance and advice to United States Indo-Pacific Command during a nine-day Pacific Sentry 2021 multi-component exercise.
Sergeants Kasey Mastel and John Lutz, both satellite communications systems operators, assisted the INDOPACOM planning team as the subject matter experts regarding satellite capability and communications at Camp Smith, Oahu, Hawaii.
“Both sergeants Mastel and Lutz are satellite experts at the Wideband Satellite Operation Center here, so they know satellite communications from the bottom up,” said 1st Lt. Natasha Chick, executive officer of Defender Company. “During the exercise, INDOPACOM would have satellite communications-based scenarios, and the team would use their expertise to provide solutions and guidance.”
Acting as the lead liaison officer for the team of two, Mastel, a senior satellite controller with eight years’ time in the Army, all of which have been spent working in WSOCs, said the most challenging aspect of the exercise was interacting with a joint command and having to adapt to an ever-changing scenario.
“(The) biggest takeaway is (to) be flexible and adapt to whatever comes your way,” Mastel said. “It’s good to have exercises like this so you are not having to scramble in a real-world situation.”
As a Senior Satellite Controller, Lutz said the exercise - his first Pacific Sentry - went well and felt he and Mastel able to answer every satellite-related inquiry that came their way, keeping the warfighter connected.
“This was a great opportunity,” he said. “It was good to see how different units and services work together, and I would like to be a part of it again someday.”
Pacific Sentry 2021 is one of a series of training exercises focused on joint training integration among U.S. forces. Held annually, it is designed to exercise U.S. Indo-Pacific Command headquarters staff and command components in a real world, operational level of war scenario.