BAGHDAD, Iraq (Army News Service, May. 27, 2008) -- The Army's transformation efforts signal change for the service's trained communications experts.

Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Clark, Command Sergeant Major of the Signal Regiment, discussed some of those changes during a forum for deployed Soldiers here May 17. He told the gathered Soldiers he was proud of their service, letting them know they were part of a very select few group of Americans that serve.

"I am a Soldier just like you -- and I have been deployed in this theater more than once," Clark said. "Only about 1 percent of Americans serve in the military and even less serve in combat."

Some Soldiers not having served in combat was the impetus for at least one change on the table for the Signals Regiment, Clark said. Soldiers who have never deployed, or who have deployed less frequently that other Soldiers, will in the future be given more ample opportunity to serve in theater.

"We are scrubbing the books," Clark said. "Those Soldiers who have been serving in a Training and Doctrine Command location for more then a few years are getting moved to deploying units. Everyone will get their chance to deploy."

Some Soldiers find themselves deployed and working one or two grades above their current pay grade, Clark said. The battlefield promotion initiative means those Soldiers can finally get paid for the job they are doing.

"This is very good, and actually rewards Soldiers who are deployed to combat," Clark said. "And be assured that this is a combat initiative and Soldiers in locations such as Kuwait will not be eligible for this promotion."

Operational credit is a unique opportunity for many Soldiers to change their job based on on-the-job-training. An example would be a Soldier who is a switch operator and works an entire deployment on a joint network node. They will have the opportunity to apply to the Operational Credit Program to officially change their MOS to 25N.

Signals Soldiers going through advanced individual training will now go on their field training exercises with boxed-up equipment. Regardless of what occupation the Soldiers have, they are given random signal equipment to operate. This technique shows the Soldiers that no matter what military occupational specialty they may have, they'll have to learn to operate whatever equipment they are given.

Clark also took time to tell Soldiers that in the minimal off-time they might have while deployed, they should work to improve themselves both personally and professionally.

"Every day you are not trying to get a promotion point is a wasted day," he said. "Ensure that you are taking correspondence classes, college classes, and all the necessary things you need to get promoted. Also ensure you are going to the range and improving your physical fitness. If you are doing everything you can to achieve success, it will pay off."

Soldiers from the 11th Signal Brigade, Fort Huachuca, Arizona; the 63rd Expeditionary Signal Battalion, Fort Gordon, Georgia; and the 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, Mannheim, Germany, attended the forum. Together, the group makes up Task Force Thunderbird.