By Maj. Jennifer ButlerMarch 1, 2013
The 11th Signal Brigade faces a unique challenge because its Soldiers and leaders are located at three different geographical locations within the United States. While they may deal with each other on a regular basis, they do not often have the chance to meet with each other face-to-face.
For this reason, both company and battalion level command teams gather on Fort Huachuca annually to focus on techniques and skills that will help them take care of the Army's number-one resource -- Soldiers. Command teams from Fort Hood and Fort Bliss, Texas, met with Fort Huachuca 11th Signal Bde. leaders for the annual Thunderbird Leadership Workshop, Feb. 20 -- Saturday.
On Feb. 19, "STAND-TO" reported that during this same time period, Army leaders and subject matter experts gathered to discuss the challenges the Army faces and what lies ahead for the future forces in a contemporary military forum. "America's Next First Battle: Manning, Training Equipping," aired live via Internet streaming from the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Presentations by key Army leaders and panel discussions focused on transition, sustainment, industrial base partnering and the future of the network integration evaluation.
Gen. Robert Cone, commanding general, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, discussed how to transition the Army by investing in Soldiers at all levels.
"Improving on the experience level of those Soldiers and the Army, and preparing for the future requires an approach that pays special attention to doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel and facilities," Cone said.
Hence the Thunderbird Leadership Workshop, a leadership professional development event, or LPD, gathered all of the 11th Signal Brigade command teams to discuss Big Army topics as they related to the 11th Signal Brigade.
Col. Patrick Dedham, brigade commander said, "You have to keep learning and adjusting. It's about learning from subject matter experts and from each other."
Company command teams participated in two days of group discussions while the battalion command teams participated in a one-day, symposium-style meeting. At both events, current and former commanders shared ideas on trends and challenges battalion command teams face.
At the company command team level, topics ranged from how to identify and counsel high-risk Soldiers through common pitfalls faced by company command teams. Risks include potential bodily harm to Soldiers who ride motorcycles, participate in extreme sports or other activities that could lead to bodily injuries. Other less obvious risks, those not visible on the surface, include Soldiers with financial or relationship problems which could lead to depression, substance abuse or other forms of mental illness.
Chaplain (Maj.) James Blount, 11th Signal Brigade chaplain, held three mock counseling sessions using Soldiers as actors. The company command teams listened to the sessions then discussed what went well, suggested improvements and described on-post agencies available to assist the Soldiers in getting help, if needed.
This discussion continued during an open forum session with Dedham and Command Sgt. Maj. Earl Allen, 11th Signal Brigade command sergeant major.
When handling electronics, safety is critical. A hands-on equipment safety grounding session led by George Richardson, 11th Signal Brigade safety manager, and Chief Warrant Officer 4 William Reed, electronics maintenance officer, covered safe grounding of signal equipment.
A late-season winter snow storm cancelled an annual Army physical fitness competition normally held as part of the leadership workshop.
1st Sgt. Derrick Nash, Company A, 57th Expeditionary Signal Battalion Fort Hood, Texas, enjoyed the Thunderbird leadership workshop. "I got to meet all of my battle buddies in the brigade and [others] I've served with in the past. For those two days, there was over 500 years worth of experience in one room," Nash said.
Capt. Brian Boundy, Company B, 40th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, had similar sentiments.
"I thought the Thunderbird leadership workshop was a great experience to see what issues are present across the board and have a chance to step back to look at the multiple tools available to company command teams," he said.
The battalion command teams who participated in a one-day symposium received ethics refresher training and heard from guest speakers including Maj. Gen. Alan Lynn, U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command, commanding general and Brig. Gen. Joseph Brendler, chief information officer/G6, who participated through a video teleconference.