COLUMBUS, Ohio — “Always be improving your foxhole” is a saying Soldiers have heard for almost 250 years. The concept is second nature for the Soldiers of the Ohio Army National Guard’s 1137th Signal Company (Tactical Infrastructure and Networking-Enhanced, or TIN-E).
“When infantry or engineers move through and clear routes or buildings, we’ll come in,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan Cuthbert, a platoon sergeant with the 1137th. “We’ll actually establish those network infrastructures needed for command teams to move through or for units to set up to operate out of.”
The deployed environment is one of many ways the 1137th brings value to the OHARNG. The unit installs and improves computer networks and infrastructure in readiness centers and other Ohio National Guard facilities across the state.
“If you go into any building or armory we’ve been out to, if you can plug in to a port on a wall and get connectivity from that wall, all the way to the source, we’ve touched all of that at some point and we’ve actually installed it and verified connectivity,” Cuthbert said.
The Soldiers’ mission and skill sets apply to both domestic and deployed environments, which provides them plenty of opportunities to maintain individual and collective readiness.
“I like that we are actually doing things,” said Spc. Marissa Lokke, a cable maintainer with the 1137th. “We practice what we’re actually going to do out on the field. When we get there, we’re already equipped with the knowledge that we need to be able to actually carry out the mission.”
The 1137th has completed projects across Ohio, from rewiring and updating existing cables to installing new network switches and routers.
For one of its more recent projects, Soldiers installed new communication closets to house and protect equipment and ran fiber-optic cables to improve connectivity between readiness centers in the field and the main OHARNG network.
“They’re actually able to get out and see that what they’re doing is benefiting others,” said Staff Sgt. Jacob East, one of the project’s leads. “Not only for the experience that they can use outside of the Army, but also benefiting the users that actually have a need and necessity for the things that they’re providing for them.”
That sentiment is echoed across the unit by Soldiers who are proud of what they’ve accomplished.
“We are making a difference, even though people might not know about us,” Lokke said. “If you go look at Ravenna (Newton Falls), Chagrin Falls and Stow, our work is all around those offices that people are using every single day — that’s because of us.”
These Soldiers are on the cutting edge of infrastructure modernization and establishing the unit’s standards of professionalism and accomplishment that will carry it into the future.
“They’re creating their own legacy,” East said. “Being a brand-new unit, everybody that comes into the 1137th from here on out can see the work that we have done and can continuously improve on that. So I don’t think that things are going to go backwards. I think they can only go forward.”