CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea — After completing their conversion in July 2021, the 304th Expeditionary Signal Battalion became an enhanced formation, modernizing itself to the military's new methods of tactical communication. The storied battalion with over 100 years of service now has the capabilities to transport quicker, equip faster and maneuver across the battlefield like never before.
The Army has been pushing itself to reconfigure the mobility of tactical communications by fielding multiple ESB units with the expeditionary signal battalion-enhanced capability set 21. With the new capabilities of the set, mainly being the new Scalable Network Node, or SNN, that is included, units are finding their transportation requirements reduced by even 60%, including 304th ESB-E.
Before the switch to enhanced equipment, the main source of communications came from the Joint Network Node, or JNN, and the Satcom Transportable Terminal which have been completely done away with here. Not having to haul pull, and maneuver larger communication equipment has been the key to modernizing the unit.
“The ability to deploy rapidly with smaller equipment that does not take as much logistics is really beneficial in this environment,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ashton Warrington, the senior network technician at 304th ESB-E, 1st Signal Brigade. “We don't have to worry about sling loading, we don't have to worry about as much logistical work it would take if we were using Humvees and trailers, it is a lot easier to deploy with it”
As the only Expeditionary Signal Battalion on the Korean Peninsula, the 304th ESB-E must be able to support virtually all units which include the United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command, United States Forces Korea and Eighth Army. They were the third battalion to be converted under the plan to modernize several brigades with the capability set 21 fielding equipment. As the Army aims to keep on track with its modernization process it will soon unveil capability set 23 and eventually CS 25 and CS 27 for those fiscal years.
Another huge benefit to the SNN is the ability to use commercial networks to operate. There are even signal units now using Starlink, which is operated by SpaceX, and helps speed up communications faster than previous equipment.
“The biggest differences with SNN that we did not have with JNN at the time is the ability to use commercial assets,” said Warrington. “You could not use a Wi-Fi or any commercial asset like that to establish communications, but we have that capability now because it comes with the devices we use today.”
From a Soldier's perspective, all these new devices are made to make their job more simple, and easy to move with. The applications being put in place make learning the new processes straightforward, and more accessible for commanders.
“With all the experience I have had with the equipment, the SNN has been very simple to use, you can log right in and make any adjustments you need, and the setup is what makes it very easy and accessible,” said Spc. Jamarius Battle, nodal network system operator for Charlie Company, 304th ESB-E.
As the Army continues the momentum on modernizing necessary equipment, it is safe to say the new technologies being fielded are helping in everyday operations. 304th ESB-E is one of many units being an example of the innovations being done to support these plans.