FORT BELVOIR, Va. – U.S. Army Soldiers and Civilians honor and celebrate the 163rd birthday of the Signal Corps on June 21, 2023. Through it all, “The heart and foundation of what has made [the Signal Corps] such a great and innovative institution has been and remains its people; the Army’s greatest asset,” said Sgt. Maj. Richard Knott, senior enlisted advisor to the Army deputy chief of staff, G-6.
Since the beginning of the U.S. Army, effective communication has been critical for its success. The Continental Army maintained discipline in their formations through drums, regimental flags, and gunfire that bolstered the confidence of the colonists and helped them succeed. One of the most famous examples of the importance of battlefield communications in the defense of the new nation was Paul Revere’s frantic midnight ride on April 18, 1775, to warn the American colonial militia of the approach of British forces before the battles of Lexington and Concord.
Approximately 85 years after the Army’s formation, and with the growth of battlefield capabilities, Congress and the Army realized the need for a Signal Corps based on Dr. Albert J. Myer’s aerial telegraphy system. President James Buchanan signed the bill authorizing a Signal officer position on June 21, 1860, effectively establishing the Corps, and making the U.S. Army the first in the world to create a dedicated communications branch. Dr. Myer was appointed as the first Signal officer on June 27, 1860.
This development was fortuitous, as the Civil War broke out less than a year later. Quickly the electric telegraph, operated by the U.S. Military Telegraph Service, supplemented earlier forms of battlefield communication, and allowed the transmission of military orders and information across the entire country at a scale and speed never before possible.
“Throughout the history of the Signal Regiment, and during my entire career, what has really amazed me about our great regiment is you, our people, whether Soldiers or civilians,” said Lt. Gen. John Morrison, Jr., Army deputy chief of staff, G-6. “Your impact on our Army has been tremendous. [As] innovative [and] adaptive tactical technicians, your service and sacrifices have just been instrumental in the defense of our nation and the growth of our Army. Thank you.”
Today, 163 years after its founding, the Signal Corps continues its long tradition of innovation as the need for expanded capabilities helps ensure that the Army, the joint force, and our allies and partners can operate efficiently across all echelons and all domains – land, sea, air, space and cyberspace.
The Army’s adoption of a Unified Network based on zero trust principles aligns with efforts to create a more data-centric Army and supports the Department of Defense’s push for Combined Joint All Domain Command and Control (CJADC2). It will give commanders and Soldiers anywhere in the world a secure connection to Army data, a common view of their area of operation, and access to the information they need – when they need it – to achieve decision dominance.
“Think about a formation that is deploying from one theater to another and being able to rapidly plug in, get connected and fight upon arrival,” Morrison said during a recent media round table. “Before, the Army treated the network as enterprise and tactical, and well, that's just not going to work in not only large-scale, ground combat operations, but also more importantly, in multi-domain operations [MDO].”
Continuing the Signal Corps’ tradition of adapting to the development of new technologies, the Army’s Signal School is evolving its training to help transition the force for MDO to continue delivering the Army of 2030 and ensure the service is ready to meet emerging technological and geopolitical challenges in the decades to come.
“With state-of-the-art equipment, advanced technology, and modern facilities, the Signal School will be able to provide an unparalleled learning experience for the next generation of Soldiers,” said Col. Paul Howard, 42nd Chief of Signal and Commandant of the U.S. Army Signal School. “These investments will enable the school to offer cutting-edge courses and programs that will prepare Soldiers for the rapidly evolving landscape of modern warfare.”
From the formation of the Continental Army in 1775, to the first Signal officer in 1860, and now the Soldiers of 2023, brave men and women serve a significant role in the Army’s and Signal Corps’ defense of our nation’s people, interests, and values against ever-evolving threats.
“Happy birthday to the U.S. Army Signal Corps,” Morrison said. “I want to thank each and every member of this distinguished regiment for your contributions to our Army, driving innovation and for all your service and sacrifices to our great nation.”
As the Army celebrates the Signal Corps’ 163rd birthday, it is important that we learn from the past to forge the future. As General George S. Patton said, “To be a successful Soldier, you must know history.”