FORT GORDON, Ga. — As word spread that the demolition of Signal Towers — a landmark of Fort Gordon and symbol of the U.S. Army Signal Corps — was a part of the installation's transformation plans, some wondered if it was a sign of the beginning of the end for the Signal Corps. The reality is that could not be further from the truth.
Although Signal Towers will in fact be demolished over the course of several months, as indicated during a memorialization ceremony held on April 22, the Signal Corps’ mission is more critical today — and will remain in the future — as it has been in past years.
Hoping to dispel any speculation that the Signal Corps is going away, one of its longstanding members provided some insight on its future.
“I’ve seen a lot of movement here over the years, so for me it’s good to see what we’re doing now,” said Dwayne Williams, referring to various ongoing projects that has collectively become known as the Fort Gordon campus transformation.
Williams, U.S. Army Signal School deputy commandant, first came to Fort Gordon in 1984 as a newly commissioned signal officer. He went on to serve in a variety of roles over the years, ultimately retiring from active duty at Fort Gordon in 2009. But his service with the Signal Corps didn’t end there. Instead, he continued as a Department of Army employee. Throughout Williams' career, one thing has remained the same: change.
“Since I’ve been here, as the deputy, I’ve now been in three buildings,” Williams said. “It’s a bit of a pain, but I’m okay with it because it just shows that you’re constantly evolving.”
The estimated $1 billion Cyber Center of Excellence campus modernization project is a prime example. While on the surface it may appear that cyber is the sole focus, one look at a blueprint of the campus indicates otherwise. The Signal Corps accounts for a sizeable portion of the transformation project.
Four new buildings will replace the Vietnam-era facilities used for training over the past 50-plus years. These new facilities will enhance the Signal School’s ability to inject new technological changes into the curriculum at a faster pace, Williams said. Two of the four facilities will house the Signal School, the Signal School Headquarters and advanced individual training in one, and senior leadership development courses in the other.
In addition to new construction, numerous buildings and sites will receive major renovations including Vincent Hall, the satellite training facility, Brant Hall, the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical training facility; and Willard Training Area. Alexander Hall will be transformed into an auditorium with a 2,000 seating capacity and approximately 10 classrooms. The end state will be a walkable campus where signal and cyber Soldiers can move and train with minimal to zero disruption.
“The intent is for Soldiers to be able to walk back and forth to classrooms inside these buildings,” Williams said.
As the Army continues to evolve while training the best and brightest in the force, Fort Gordon is meeting its demands.
“When I was a lieutenant, [signal] was very network focused … now I think we’re much more focused on the data side of it,” said Col. James Turinetti IV, U.S. Army Signal School commandant. “It’s not just that you have to build, maintain and defend a network, but now you’re looking at the data — how are we managing the data, how are we protecting the data — going to more of a data-centric network as opposed to a network focus … we are a major part of cyberspace operations.“
Looking back on his nearly 30 years of service in the Signal Corps, much like Williams, Turinetti is very optimistic about the future.
“If you’re going to be wedded to things that are in the past, I think you’re going to lose,” Turinetti said. “We have to be evolving. We have to be on the cutting edge of technology.”